Founded at the peak of the cultural renaissance of the country, and situated in an area of the country distinguished for her rich culture, the University prides itself as a significant academic custodian of the rich culture of the people through the performances of the Department of Theatre Arts, which has established an enviable record for itself within Nigeria and abroad.
Founded in 1975 under the National Higher Education Expansion Programme of the Federal Military Government, the University of Calabar ranks among the leading and largest of Nigeria's second generation universities. It witnessed phenomenal physical, academic and staff growth in its first decade of existence. Those were the halcyon days of the petroleum revenue boom, the third quinquennial National Development Plan.
From its nucleus on the Duke Town Campus, the University rapidly expanded into a busy academic community that is housed in a vast constellation of modern academic blocks, students' residential halls and staff quarters. The student population rose from 896 in 1976, spread in the Faculties of Arts, Science and Social Sciences to over 30,000 full-time and part-time degree, and diploma students in the 2001/2002 session. By the 2003/2004 session, some diploma programmes were phased out. Currently, the student population stands at 40,645.