The Somali National University was established in 1954 in the Trust Territory of Somalia. It obtained official university status in 1969. The main university grounds were situated about six kilometers from the city center. Here, during the institution’s first thirty years, the main campus was known as Jaamacada Gaheyr (“Gaheyr University”).
In 1973, under the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), programs and facilities were expanded. The SNU developed over the next twenty years into an institution of higher learning, with 13 departments, 700 staff and over 15,000 students.
Under the Somali revolutionary government, the Ministry of Higher Learning and Culture established research centers in a number of cities, with the goal of developing regional economies. These learning centers were earmarked for employees from such ministries as the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Livestock and Forestry Management.
In the mid-1970s, the teaching college of Lafoole University, one of SNU’s remote campuses, was made a stand-alone institution (“Lafoole Teacher’s College”). The language of instruction was English.
Due to extensive damage to its facilities as well as the difficulty of holding classes and acquiring books and other necessities in the wake of the civil war in the early 1990s, classes at the university were suspended.