Located in Eastern Algeria’s commercial capital, often also described as the cradle of Algerian independence, Ferhat Abbas Sétif University 1 was founded in 1978 as the Sétif University Centre. It takes its name from a political leader in the civil war which led to separation from France in 1962.
Starting with 242 students in schools of economics, exact science and technology and foreign languages, it grew to attain full university status in 1989. The university was divided into two institutions in 2011, with Ferhat Abbas Sétif University 2 dedicated to law and political science, humanities, literature and languages.
Ferhat Abbas Sétif University 1, whose rector Abdelmajid Djenane, has described as aspiring to "become an active territorial actor, a socially responsible university", operates eight faculties – offering a total of 141 degree courses, 39 research institutes and a experimental farm – from three campuses.
The main campus including the faculties of medicine, science, natural and life sciences, economics, commerce and management and architecture and Earth sciences, remains at El-Bez, its connection to the rest of the city enhanced since March 2018 by the opening of the Sétif tramway system. The Faculty of Technology is based at El Maabouda and the Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics at Said Boukhrissa.
In an institution aspiring to be a "development driver" for the region, research projects include intensive study by the Laboratory of the Urban Project, City and Territory of the threats to local ecological balance and the digital scanning of Sétif's numerous historical monuments. Further afield, the university ranked second among Algerian universities in the 2018 Nature Index.