The National University of Samoa was established in 1984 by an Act of Parliament. From its small beginnings (only 45 students started the University Preparatory Year), the National University of Samoa developed in leaps and bounds.
In 1987 its first Degree – Bachelor of Education a one-off programme was launched. A year later, the Bachelor of Arts programme was taught. The first graduates in both programmes were awarded their degrees in the 1990 graduation ceremony. Shortly thereafter the existing business- related night classes administered by the Samoa Society of Accountants came under the umbrella of the university, now known as the Faculty of Commerce. The Faculty of Science was also established. In 1993 the existing School of Nursing of the National Health Department amalgamated with the university as the Faculty of Nursing.
The year 1997 saw the integration of the Western Samoa Teachers’ College with the University as the Faculty of Education. The same year, the University moved from Malifa to its new campus constructed with the grant assistance from the government of Japan – which is currently called Le Papaigalagala. After years of planning, The Centre of Samoan Studies was launched in 1999. Thus the National University of Samoa, situated in its new campus comprised not only the UPY programme, but five fully fledged faculties and the Centre of Samoan Studies. All faculties offered courses towards Bachelor’s degrees in their respective disciplines. The University Preparatory Year programme became the Foundation Year.
On 8 March 2006 the National University of Samoa and the Samoa Polytechnic were merged to form the present institution. This was the culmination of merger plans for tertiary education which were enunciated by the Government of Samoa in 2001. Samoa Polytechnic was established in 1993 by an Act of the Fono as the successor to the Western Samoa Trade School, incorporating the Maritime Training School.
The NUS Act 2006 came into force on 1 June 2006 and on 10 November the Government of Japan officially handed the Government of Samoa the newly completed Institute of Technology campus. The new NUS, through the Institute of Technology, the Institute of Higher Education, the Centre for Samoan Studies and the Oloamanu Centre, provided over sixty academic, vocational and professional programmes including the Master of Samoan Studies. In March 2011 the Council approved the complete integration of the Institute of Technology and Institute of Higher Education. On 6 February 2014, the NUS Council approved the establishment of the former Oceania University of Medicine – Motootua Campus faculty, staff and students, as the Faculty of Medicine under the National University of Samoa. This was in accordance with a Cabinet directive for the establishment of a Faculty of Medicine under NUS after a lengthy consultative process on a viable option on the future of medical education in Samoa.
To align the university’s health sector programmes and resources, the Council approved the establishment of a Faculty of Health Sciences in 2017, comprising the School of Medicine, formerly known as the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Science. Also in 2017 was the establishment of the School of Maritime Training as an independent unit at Mulinu’u Campus to serve the maritime training needs of Samoa whilst complying with international standards of maritime. The Campus was built with the assistance of the People’s Republic of China and is another milestone for the University. Given its coastal location the Campus also houses Marine Research and serves as a scientific research Centre.
Another development was the opening of the Office and Information Centre in Salelologa, Savaii to cater for students residing in Savaii. This has enabled us to hold classes in Savaii, allowing more students accessibility to pursue further studies without having to relocate to Upolu.
In August 2019 the University’s Master of Development Studies programme was granted accreditation for five years by the International Accreditation Council for Global Development Studies and Research (IAC /EADI). The IAC/EADI is a leading European network in the field of development research and training with one of it’s goals to promote quality in research and education in development studies and the accreditation status indicates the quality of the University’s postgraduate programme.
Another development is the approval by Cabinet of the merge of the University’s School of Maritime Training and the Samoa Shipping Maritime Academy. This is to boost our seafarers knowledge and make better use of government resources. The Academy focuses on domestic vessels and the merge will allow seafarers access to the University’s programmes which have been endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation and enables them to work abroad. All these developments are part of the University’s ongoing efforts and commitment to the delivery of quality programmes which are pertinent and relevant to the human resource needs of Samoa.