Cheikh Anta Diop University

Cheikh Anta Diop University
Université Cheikh Anta Diop
Latin: Universitas Dakarensis
Former names
University of Dakar (until 30 March 1987)
Motto "Lux Mea Lex"
Type Public
Established 24 February 1957
Endowment Yearly state budget:
2006: $US32 million
Rector Professor Ibrahima Thioub
Students 60,000
Location Dakar, Dakar Region, Senegal
Campus UCAD, BP 5005 Dakar
Free Free to Senegalese citizens with International Baccalaureate degree
Cheikh Anta Diop University campus, 1967. The original library building at center.

Cheikh Anta Diop University (French: Université Cheikh Anta Diop or UCAD), also known as the University of Dakar, is a university in Dakar, Senegal. It is named after the Senegalese physicist, historian and anthropologist Cheikh Anta Diop[1][2] and has an enrollment of over 60,000.


Cheikh Anta Diop University predates Senegalese independence and grew out of several French institutions set up by the colonial administration. In 1918, the French created the "école africaine de médecine" (African medical school), mostly to serve white and Métis students but also open to the small educated elite of the four free towns of Senegal with nominal French citizenship. In 1936, under the Popular Front government in France, Dakar became home to the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN), an institute for the study of African culture.

In 1950s, with decolonisation already looming, the French administration expanded these schools, added science faculties, and combined the schools into the "Institut des Hautes Etudes de Dakar". In 1957, a new campus was constructed as the 18th French Public University, attached to the University of Paris and the University of Bordeaux. This became the University of Dakar the largest and most prestigious university in French West Africa. In 1987, its name was changed to honor the Senegalese philosopher and anthropologist, Cheikh Anta Diop.

Enrollment growth

At independence in 1960, enrollment was 1,018 students, only 39% Senegalese, with most of the rest from other former French colonies. By 1976, this number grew to 8,014.

The 1970s, a time of state financial crisis, saw a cut in funding to higher education, with international agencies stepping in over the next decade. Most of this funding, though, went to meet the needs of primary schools. The 1990s and 2000s saw a huge boom in Senegalese primary and secondary education, much of it funded through international projects. In 1984 around 50% of Senegalese children received primary education and by 2004 more than 90% did.

In the mid-1980s around 20% of World Bank funding to Senegalese education went to higher education, but this figure dropped to 7% by the mid-1990s. With these projects came severe World Bank restrictions, dramatically cutting domestic funding available to university programs. As students who have benefited from primary and secondary education age, Cheikh Anta Diop University has had its already stretched resources stretched further. Nine thousand Senegalese students received a Baccalaureate degree in 2000, while total registration shot above 40,000, for a campus built with only 5,000 dorm rooms.[3][4]

Despite these pressures Cheikh Anta Diop University maintains a reputation as one of Africa's most prestigious institutions. Most of the post-independence generation of Senegalese leaders are graduates of the university, and its alumni teach in universities around the world.


The education system follows the French pattern, with oral and/or written final exams administered at the end of the year. All courses at the university are taught in French, except those in language departments other than French.

Schools and institutes

UCAD offers courses of study in Humanities, Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Finance, Accounting, and Law. The university awards the following degrees: B.A., B.S., Ph.D., and D.M.A.

The School of Medicine includes departments of Pharmacy, Research, and Surgery.[5] The university also encompasses the Institute of Sciences of the Environment (ISE) and the Institute of Sciences of Earth (ISE).

The Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN), originally founded in 1936, remains one of the world centers of African Studies. The IFAN Museum of African Arts' Musée d'Art africain, attached to IFAN, displays and conserves a world-renowned collection of African arts.

The Centre de linguistique appliquée de Dakar (Center of Applied Linguistics of Dakar) at CADU is the regulatory body for the Wolof language.

Language studies are divided into the following disciplines: Philosophy, Sociology, History, Geography, Letters, Arabic, Russian, Languages and Civilizations, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Latin, German and Linguistics.

The university oversees a language school: Institut de Français pour Etrangers (IFE). The IFE specializes in French language studies aimed at foreign students in preparation for regular courses taught in French.

Foreign programs

UCAD hosts a number of foreign study abroad programs, including ones administered by Wells College, Indiana University, and the University of Oregon in the United States and numerous European universities. Participants in the program typically take a required course in Introductory Wolof and a French language (if applicable) course through the IFE in addition to regular university courses taught in French.[6]

A division of the university offers courses for foreign students in Senegalese and African studies, including African literature, history, politics, philosophy, and sociology.

Cheikh Anta Diop University library building, showing additions, 2005.

CADU is a member of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World.

Special requirements

For foreign students, UCAD requires a minimum age of 18 to enroll in studies in Pharmacy and a minimum age of 22 to enroll in studies relating to oral surgery.

Student life

UCAD has a diverse student body drawn from many countries including Senegal, Chad, Burkina-Faso, Ivory Coast, France, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, the United States, Mauritania, Mali, Morocco, Rwanda, Cameroon, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

As with a number of other African universities, UCAD occasionally experiences student strikes protesting government or university policies. These strikes generally last not more than one or two weeks but may be longer, as occurred during the 1993 presidential election.

With over 60,000 students and only 5,000 dormitory rooms, most students from outside Dakar must look for other accommodations. Many students live in the Cité Aline Sitoe Diatta, near the university campus, and those who can't afford Dakar's often high rents often share rooms.[7] [8]

Notable alumni and professors

Notable instructors

Notable students

Honorary degrees

See also


  1. Touré, Maelenn-Kégni, "Cheikh Anta Diop University (1957--)",
  2. "University Cheikh Anta Diop", Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. "Africa's Storied Colleges, Jammed and Crumbling," By Lydia Polgreen, The New York Times, 20 May 2007
  4. Clark, Andrew Francis; Phillips, Lucie Colvin; Phillips, Lucie Colvin. Historical Dictionary of Senegal. p. 287
  5. University Cheikh Anta Diop. (2004). University Cheikh Anta Diop's Background. Retrieved March 27, 2004, from
  6. Wells Program. (2005). Dakar Program for foreigners. Retrieved April 10, 2005, from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2006-04-28.
  7. Polgreen, Lydia (20 May 2007). "Africa's Storied Colleges, Jammed and Crumbling". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  8. "Cité Aline Sitoé Diatta, ex-Claudel: Le défi de la cohabitation". Senegal news. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
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