The idea of distance education was conceived by the Department of Adult Education of the University of Ibadan in 1972. The proposal for the commencement of the various programmes was presented to the Senate of the University in 1976. Later, the National Universities Commission also gave its approval on the condition that it would be a self-financing programme. Hence, the present-day Distance Learning programme started first as External Degrees and later changed to External Studies programme of the Department of Adult Education in 1988, with courses from the parent department (Adult Education) and two other departments, Guidance and Counseling and Teacher Education.

By 1993, four more departments – Special Education, Library Science, Educational Management and Physical and Health Education had joined the original three departments to offer courses leading to the award of the Bachelor of Education (B. Ed) degree. In 1998, the programme was extended to the Faculty of Agriculture.

In order to keep pace with global developments, the name of the centre was changed from Centre for External Studies to Distance Learning Centre in 2002. Since inception, the centre has graduated over 4,000 students.         

The Distance Learning Centre’s programme of studies is the same as that offered for full-time students of the University of Ibadan. The only difference is that it is designed primarily to suit those in the working class, whose schedules, distance, financial condition and other situations may not permit them to undergo full-time studies at the university. These students read their study-packs at their convenience, communicate with their lecturers from time to time, and only come into residence six weeks in a year for revision and examination. In addition to its Head Office at Moroundiya Site, Idi-Ose, Along Moniya Road, on the New Ibadan – Ilorin Expressway, Ibadan and the office at 20 Awolowo Avenue, Old Bodija, Ibadan; the centre also has information offices in Lagos and Abeokuta, and plans are underway to add new ones.