On December 17, 1968, Instituto Técnico Universitario Surcolombiano (ITUSCO) was created through law 55, with the mission of preparing and qualifying professionals with the knowledge needed for the region.
The academic activities started on March 30, 1970, with three technology programs: Business Management, Educational Administration and Public Accounting, with 305 students and 4 full-time professors.
Through Law 13 of 1976, ITUSCO became Universidad Surcolombiana, with a similar structure of the Universidad Nacional of Colombia, except the formation of the High Council; consequently, it limited the ability of the university to offer academic programs established by Universidad Nacional. Universidad Surcolombiana never met this legal mandate and created other programs that were formalized by the ICFES (Instituto Colombiano para el Fomento de la Educación Superior). It is worth mentioning that during the first decade, different programs started without having a final, well-defined goal and the guarantee of Universidad Nacional. As time went by, the faculties were created and formalized in a professional level according to ICFES.
In 1973, the location of Universidad Surcolombiana was moved to the headquarters of Pastrana Borrero Avenue, Street 1, with the same programs, plus Linguistics and Literature, all at the technical level. In 1974, the Nursing Program was created.
Until 1980, Universidad Surcolombiana had not yet initiated the culture of planning and self-evaluation. However, it already offered nine education programs: Preschool, Linguistics, and Literature, Educational Administration, Physical Education, Mathematics and Physics, Public Accounting, Business Administration, Agricultural Engineering, and Nursing; it had 1,879 students, ninety-nine full-time professors and some part-time professors and adjunct professors. Until that date, no postgraduate program was offered.
In 1983, four new programs were created: Medicine, Petroleum Engineering, Agricultural Technology and Educational Technology Teaching, the last two being distance education.
In 1984, Universidad Surcolombiana offered the first graduate program: Specialization in Mathematics in agreement with the Universidad Nacional.
In 1989, 11 attendance-based programs were already being offered in Neiva: the nine already mentioned, plus Medicine and Petroleum Engineering. In addition, three were created in agreement with the Instituto de Cultura of Huila. Six distance education programs on different locations: Teacher Education Technology, created by Resolution 2123 of October 1989; Agricultural Technology by Resolution 0626 of March 1988; Banking and Financial management Technology, in agreement with Universidad del Tolima (resolution 2419 of November 1989); Civil Engineering Technology, in agreement with Universidad del Quindío according to Resolution 190 of February 1990; Municipal Management Technology, in agreement with ESAP (Escuela Superior de Administración Pública); and Basic Elementary Education in agreement with Universidad del Quindío (Resolution 191 of February 1990). Furthermore, two graduate programs of Specialization in Regional Development Management were added, according to Agreement 191 of November 1989. All resolutions and agreements mentioned were issued by ICFES, and 201 full-time professors, 29 half-time professors and a large number of adjunct professors taught 4,275 students. Only one cohort of distance Basic Elementary Education Program taught 1,082 students.
In 1993 and 1994, law 30 of 1992 started to be applied and the designation of the president by the university community, according to the new normative proceedings.
Another important fact for the development of the university came up in 1993 and 1994 with the definition, made by the High Council, of the first Institutional Teleology stated in the General Statute.
To this day, the institution has accomplished a significant improvement in the completion of the functions written in the mission, evident in the High-Quality Accreditation of the programs of Medicine, Nursing, Physical Education, Public Accounting, Modern Languages and Petroleum Engineering and strengthening and consolidation of research groups and social projects.
By Agreement 020 of 2003, the Superior Council issued the University Educational Project where the mission, principles, purposes, vision, policies and macro institutional projects are declared, in accordance with the approval of the Development Plan. By agreement 021 of 2006, the mission of the University was modified.
In addition, in 2007, the Superior Council established academic, research, social, administrative and financial policies for the institution. During the year 2008, with the participation of the university community and the relevant actors of the region, the fifth Development Plan was formulated for the period between 2009 - 2012 with a prospective horizon to the year 2019.
This plan is aimed at Academic and Social Accreditation of Universidad Surcolombiana, recognized by the academic and productive world at the regional, national and global levels. It is guided by the quality management strategy for institutional accreditation, through the consolidation strategies of the academic community, logistical and technological modernization and inter-institutional cooperation.
In 2015, Universidad Surcolombiana completes its 45th year of academic work as an institution of higher education.