The University took off from a temporary site, made up of three blocks of building meant for a primary school in Gwagwalada, tagged the "mini - campus". Academic activities started on the mini - campus in 1990. In the same year, the University was allocated an expanse of land covering over 11,800 hectares along the Abuja - Abuja road for the development of its main campus.
The University of Abuja, Gwagwalada mini-campus is the first campus in the university to be established at take-off time. Though the university is gradually relocating to the permanent site, up till this day, the campus still hosts two female hostels and a boys’ hostel all accommodating close to three thousand students. Among the landmarks in the campus includes the Senate Chamber, the Science Laboratories, Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Management Sciences, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Remedial Studies and the Institute of Education. The university Medical Centre which has been equipped with modern medical facilities and high profile personnel cannot be ignored. The campus hosts a number of recreational facilities including an Olympic size football field, a volleyball pitch and a long-tennis court.