Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) was established in October 1989 by a Statute of the National Resistance Council, as the second public university in Uganda, after Makerere University. The statute was repealed and replaced by the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001, as amended in 2003 and 2006.
The university was established in the former Nursing & Midwifery School and took over its facilities adjacent to the current Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital. It started with a pioneer Faculty of Medicine offering the degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB). The first cohort of students were 43 students and 5 members of staff, four of whom were from the Republic of Cuba. To date the relationship with the Cuban government had been maintained. Cuba provides at least 5 medical specialists to train students and also offer clinical services all the time.
The major aim of establishing the university was to bridge the gap of health professionals in the country. The university trains doctors and other health professionals such as nurses, pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists and recently, physiotherapists. Theses are trained to acquaint themselves with the rural conditions and health needs of the bulk of Uganda’s population under the programme known as Community Based Education and Services (COBERS).
The university continued to grow and new faculties/institutes were established. These include;
- Faculty of Science
- Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology
- Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies
- Faculty of Business and Management Sciences
- Maternal New-born and Child Health Institute
- Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation
The University Motto: “SUCCEED WE MUST”
Location: The university is located on 2 campuses;
- Mbarara Town Campus located on Plot 8-18 Mbarara- Kabale Road, equivalent to 21.45 Hectares
- Kihumuro Main Campus, at 6 Kms, along Mbarara- Fort Portal Road situated on 234.2 hectares of land at Kihumuro and Rukindo (which is across River Rwizi). The land at Rukindo is earmarked for agricultural and teaching activities.
Other Sites: The university operates on sites outside Mbarara, these are;
- The Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) situated at Ruhija in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Through collaboration with the Uganda Widlife Authority (UWA), the university established a research centre at Ruhija on UWA land through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 1991. The MoU allows MUST to have infrastructure within the park as a centre of research activities in the park.
- Buhoma located in Kayonza sub-county in Kanungu district in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This is the entry to the famous Gorilla Trekking area. MUST has established a Gorilla Trekking Camp at this site.
- Rugazi Health Centre in Rubirizi District. This is the pioneer centre for the Community Based Education and Services (COBERS). The university owns a students’ hostel and 2 staff houses. The facilities are used by students during community placement in the area.
- Bughoye Health Centre in Kasese district. This is also a centre for COBERS in the Kasese area.