Some thought had been given in the early 1950s to the establishment of a University college in Lusaka, but such proposals as there may have been were abandoned in 1953 with the creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and the related political decision to establish a University college in Salisbury (now Harare). Almost ten years were to pass before the question of a University for the then Northern Rhodesia was formally re-opened. This was done by the government which came into power in December 1962, and which for the first time consisted of a majority from the two nationalist parties, the United National Independence Party and the African National Congress. In March 1963, this Government appointed a Commission under the Chairmanship of Sir John Lockwood, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, to advise on the development of a University. In its report, which was submitted in November 1963, the Lockwood Commission unanimously recommended the establishment of a University in Lusaka.
In January 1964, the Government signified that it accepted the recommendations of the Lockwood Commission and within four months there was an inaugural meeting of the Provisional Council of the University, the body charged with bringing the University into being.