Fourah Bay College was founded by the Church Missionary Society in 1827, for the purpose of training Africans as schoolmasters, catechists and clergymen. The establishment of Fourah Bay College intended, on the one hand ,to provide its pupils, the children of the freed slaves and liberated Africans with opportunities to obtain training in basic skills, needed to survive in their new environment, and on the other hand, to train those of its pupils who displayed the requisite aptitude as teachers and priests.
In 1876, the CMS succeeded in getting the College affiliated to Durham University, which meant that the students could sit for Durham's matriculation examinations and take Durham University degree examinations, although Durham had no control over the appointment of lectures and lecturing. The affiliation led to a revision of the courses include Latin, Greek, Hebrew,Arabic,History, Natural Science, French and German.
In 1938, the Colonial Government decided to review its relationship with the college and appointed a Commission to inquire into and report on its financial positions, status and aim. Apart from recommending that its course be modernised and diversified, it also recommended a more reliable method of funding which would ensure that the college would always be assured of funds. During the Second World War, the colonial government took over the college buildings as part of its war effort. The college was moved temporarily first to Cline Town and later to Mabang about forty miles away from Freetown. It was just at this time that the colonial administration decided to set up a Commission to investigate and report on higher education in West Africa.