Hunan University, originating from Yuelu Academy founded in 976 A.D. during the Northern Song Dynasty, is the oldest institution in Chinese history, earning it the name "One-Thousand-Year-Old Institution". With 1030 year old history it has transformed from an ordinary ancient academy to a famous modern institute, from a provincial university to a national university, from the "211 Project" to the "985 Project". Hunan University has withstood the tests of time, wars and the reform and readjustment of educational systems, and has always stood erect leading in the formation of China's glorious higher education.
In 1903, Zhao Erxun, the provincial governor, transformed Yuelu Academy into Hunan Institute of Higher Education, after founding the Shiwu Institute.
In 1912, Hunan Institute of Higher Education was closed down. Hunan Teachers College, founded as Hunan Senior Teachers School, was moved into Yuelu Academy, the site for Hunan Institute of Higher Education.
In May 1917, Hunan Teachers College was closed down; and Hunan Public Poly-Technical College was moved into Yuelu Academy. On February 1, 1926, Hunan Public Poly-Technical College, Hunan Public College of Law and Politics and Hunan Public Business College merged to shape the modern Hunan University, the first public comprehensive university in Hunan, with its campus at the foot of the Yuelu Mountain.
In July 1937, Hunan University was upgraded to national status by the Ministry of Education.
In August 1949, Changsha was peacefully liberated and on September 11, Changsha Municipal Martial Law Commission took over Hunan University. From September to December of the same year, the Provincial Keqiang Institute, the Provincial College of Music, the National Teachers Institute and the Private Minguo University were successively integrated into Hunan University.
In 1953 Hunan University was rescinded in the national readjustment of institutions of higher education and research fields, and Central-South Institute of Civil and Architectural Engineering was established in place of Hunan University. Faculty members and students of related colleges and departments were resettled in Wuhan University, Central-South Institute of Finance and Economics, Central-South Institute of Political Science and Law, Central-China Poly-Technical Institute, Zhongshan University, South-China Poly-Technical Institute, Central-China Teachers College, Hunan Teachers College, Central-South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Henan University, Zhongyuan University and Hunan Agricultural Institute.
On June 5, 1958, Hunan Poly-Technical Institute was founded on the basis of Central-South Civil and Architectural Engineering.
On July 18, 1959, Hunan University was officially restored.
In 1963, the State Council decided that the First Ministry of Mechanical Industry should take over Hunan University and that Hunan University be listed as a key university at ministerial level. In 1978, Hunan University emerged as a key university at national level. On June 24, 1998, Hunan University joined the list of universities for priority investment and construction under the "211 Project". On October 8, the Ministry of Education issued a document designating Hunan University as a university affiliated with the ministry.
In April 2000, Hunan University and Hunan College of Economics and Finance merged to form a new Hunan University.
In February 2001, the Ministry of Education and Hunan Provincial People's Government made a decision to jointly construct of Hunan University, when the university joined China's high-level universities for priority investment and construction under the "985 Project".
In 2002, Hunan Computer College was merged into Hunan University.