Peoples’ Friendship University was established by the government of the Soviet Union on February 5, 1960. The Soviet government decided to establish Peoples’ Friendship University in response to the requests of former colonial countries. On February 22, 1961, it was renamed in honor of Patrice Lumumba, the leader of what later became the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who had been overthrown and murdered in a coup only days earlier. In the first year, 539 foreign students from 59 countries were enrolled (plus 57 Soviet students).
In February 1975, the University was awarded the Peoples’ Friendship Order for contributions in human development of Asian, African and Latin American countries.
On February 5, 1992 the university was renamed 'Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia – State Institute of Higher Education (PFUR)'. The founder of the PFUR is the government of the Russian Federation.
The stated purpose of establishing this university was to give young people from Asia, Africa and Latin America, especially from poor families, an opportunity to be educated and to become highly qualified specialists.
The organizations that have been mentioned as founders of the university are:
- All-Union Central Soviet of Trade Unions
- Soviet Committee of Asian and African Countries Solidarity
- Soviet Associations Union of Friendship and Intercultural Relationship
Today, more than 97,000 graduates work in approximately 165 different countries around the world. The university has 57 programmes with about 33,000 students (including postgraduates and trainees) of 450 nationalities. About 13,500 of the current students are from outside the Russian Federation, while more than 1,000 are from autonomous regions inside the Russian Federation.
The University staff includes about 4,000 employees; among them there are 532 professors and Doctors of Science, 807 associate professors and candidates of science, 91 academicians and Corresponding Members of academies of Russia, 50 Honoured workers of Science of the Russian Federation, 56 PFUR teachers and professors are full members of international academies and learned societies, as well as other general employees.
- Department of Russian Language and Basic Disciplines (Preparatory faculty for International Students)
- Department of Science
- Department of Engineering
- Department of Medicine
- Department of Medicine with English Medium
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Economics
- Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
- Department of Philology
- Institute of Foreign Languages
- School of Law
- Ecology Institute of Hotel, Business and Tourism
- Institute of Global Economics and Business
- Institute of Correspondence Studies
- Full-time programs (Undergraduate, Graduate and Postgraduate)
- Part-time (Night School Bachelor's Programme)
- Part-time & independent study Specialist programme, 1 week per month evening instruction (often erroneously called a form of correspondence courses)
- Correspondence Courses
- Double Majors
- Additional Education Courses
- Bachelor's Degree - (4 years of study)
- State Specialist Degree – (5 years of study)
- Medical Doctor Degree – (6 years of Study)
- Master's Degree - (2 years of study following B.Sc.)
- Ph.D – 3 years (after Masters or Specialist)
- D.Sc – 2–3 years (after Ph.D)
Black and Asian students have increasingly been subject to violent racist and anti-foreigner attacks, including a number of murders. On the night of 24 November 2003, a mysterious fire in a university student dormitory left over 40 foreign students dead. Russian media later cited a police source as saying all the doors leading to the fire escapes had been blocked. The fire services blamed an electrical fault, however students blamed arsonists. The previous night, they said, two skinheads had been chased from the area following an attempted arson attack. There has been no police investigation. The home countries of the dead and injured included: China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Angola, Ivory Coast, Tahiti, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Peru, Malaysia, Mongolia, India, Nigeria, Tanzania and Sri Lanka. In addition, Palestinians were also listed.
On the 8th of March 2008, three Chinese students were brutally attacked by unidentified men just outside the student residence halls in a poorly lit corner, and one of the students died on the spot. It is suspected that the attack was committed by racist skinheads, but it has not yet been proven.
- Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran
- Porfirio Lobo Sosa, President of Honduras
- Carlos the Jackal, he began to study but never graduated, and was expelled for indecent behaviour
- Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), President of the Palestinian Authority
- Imadadin Halawa
- Aziz al-Abub
- David Kermite
- Mustafa Barghouti
- Sergey Dorenko
- Abed Elrahim Abu Zakrra
- Irina Hakamada
- Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana
- Lucy Seki
- Yuri Shvets
- Rohana Wijeweera
- Shahdeen Malik
- Ganesh Shah
- Fatima Abdel Mahmoud
- Temur Gikoshvili —- A famous translator of Kama-Sutra from Hindi to Abkhazian
- Sergio Viaggio —- Former Chief Interpreter at UN, Vienna, Honorary Professor, Universtiy of Vic (Spain), Doctor Honoris Causa in Letters, Bath University; founding member and first Vice President of the European Society of Translation Studies.
- International Lenin School