From its humble beginnings in 1984 (45 students in the only class, the University Preparatory Year), the National University of Samoa has developed in leaps and bounds. Its first degree, the Bachelor of Education, a one-off programme, was launched in 1987. 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. Later it became the
Faculty of Commerce. The Faculty of Science was also established. The existing School of Nursing of the National Health Department amalgamated with the university in 1993 as the Faculty of Nursing.
The Western Samoa Teachers’ College amalgamated with the University in 1997 as the Faculty of Education and in the same year, the University moved from the compound at Malifa to its new Le Papaigalagala campus at Vaivase, which was constructed with grant assistance from the government of Japan. The Institute of Samoan Studies was established in 1999 after years of planning. Thus the National University of Samoa, situated in its new campus comprised not only the UPY programme, but five fully fledged faculties and the Institute of Samoan Studies. All faculties offered courses towards Bachelor’s degrees in their respective disciplines. The University Preparatory Year programme became the Foundation Year, with streams offered by the five faculties as well as a general programme.
On 8 March 2006 the National University of Samoa and the Samoa Polytechnic were merged into the newly constituted National University of Samoa. 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. It offered certificate and diploma programmes through the Schools of Business and General Studies, Engineering and Maritime Training.
The new NUS Act 2006 came into force on 01 June 2006 and on 10 November of the same year, the Government of Japan officially handed over to the Government of Samoa the newly completed Institute of Technology campus, which formed part of the JICA project for the upgrading and extension of the former Samoa Polytechnic. The new NUS made up of the Institute of Technology, the Institute of Higher Education, the Centre for Samoan Studies and the Oloamanu Centre for Professional Development and Continuing Education, provided over sixty academic, vocational and professional programmes including the Master of Samoan Studies. In March 2011 the Council approved the integration of the Institute of Technology and Institute of Higher Education under a unified Faculty system. Despite the teeting problems associated with change, the integration initiative was successfully completed in FY 2013/2014. Given the locations of the former Institute of Higher Education and former Institute of Technology respectively in the NUS Campus, the teaching of the majority of TVET and service oriented programmes continue to take place on the “oceanside” while academic oriented programmes and courses are taught in the buildings located on the “mountainside” of the NUS Campus.
On 6 February 2014, the NUS Council approved the establishment of 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 to support the acute shortage of medical physicians in Samoa. The University is excited about this landmark development for Samoa and will continue to work with reputable international medical schools, physicians, academics and stakeholders to offer an appropriate and rigorous medical curriculum of international standards to meet the health needs of Samoa and the Pacific.