In East Africa regional higher education interactions and cooperation originates from the pre-independence era when Makerere University College was the only higher education institution in the region serving students from Kenya, the then Tanganyika, and Zanzibar in East Africa as well as from the then Rhodesia and Nyasaland in central and southern Africa, which now consist of Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Later in 1963, university colleges were formed in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as constituent colleges of the then University of East Africa that had been established during the era of independence of the four countries (Uganda, Kenya, Zanzibar, and Tanganyika). Makerere College was the third constituent college of the University of East Africa.
In 1970, the University of East Africa was dissolved and the University of Dar es Salaam, Makerere University and the University of Nairobi were established as separate national universities for Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya respectively. In the same year, due to the need to maintain collaboration between these universities the Inter-University Committee (IUC) was established under the auspices of the first EAC. The role of IUC was to facilitate contact and cooperation among the three universities (University of Dar es Salaam, Makerere University and University of Nairobi). IUC was hosted in Kampala, Uganda. In 1977, the former EAC collapsed and the support that IUC was receiving from the Partner States declined. However, IUC continued to coordinate cooperation between the three universities albeit with resource constraints that severely limited its functions.