On March 27, 1931, the General Assembly consolidated what is now UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and UNC-Greensboro into the University of North Carolina system. The streamlined system was intended to reduce inefficiency and redundancy in higher education.

For more than 125 years the only campus of the University of North Carolina, chartered in 1789, was at Chapel Hill. Beginning in 1877, the General Assembly began to support other institutions of higher education with diverse purposes. After the initial creation of the multi-campus University in 1931, more schools were brought into the fold in 1969. In 1971 legislation was passed bringing the state’s ten remaining public institutions on board.

As of fall 2012, the entire system had more than 175,000 students across all of its campuses.