Prior to the existence of the University of Madeira, a number of educational establishments were already present in Madeira during the 20th century, such as: the Instituto Universitário da Madeira, the Instituto Superior de Artes Plásticas da Madeira and the Conservatório de Música da Madeira. In 1977 is founded the Instituto Superior de Artes Plásticas da Madeira, later integrated in the University of Madeira.
Creation, in the Region, of Support Centers from other Universities, as well as the creation of the Escola Superior de Educação da Madeira. There is also the offering in Funchal of some courses from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, the Portuguese Catholic University and the University of Minho.
Creation of the Escola de Enfermagem Pós-Básica da Madeira, under the responsibility of the Regional Secretariat for Social Affairs, later Escola Superior de Enfermagem da Madeira integrated in the University of Madeira. The Escola Superior de Educação da Madeira is authorized to begin teaching the baccalaureate course of primary school teachers, starting in the 1986-1987 academic year.
Establishment of the University of Madeira (UMa) and designation of its First Commission having as president Raul Manuel Albuquerque Sardinha, and the remaining team José Luís de Morais Ferreira Mendes and Fernando Manuel Santos Ferreira Henriques. The first UMa administrator was Professor Ana Isabel Portugal.
Started the first course at the University of Madeira, the Degree in Physical Education and Sport. It is also created the Centro Integrado de Formação de Professores, extinguishing the Escola Superior de Educação da Madeira. The Escola de Enfermagem Pós-Básica da Madeira is now called the Escola Superior de Enfermagem da Madeira, integrating the network of nursing higher schools.
In this academic year, the following courses started being offered in UMa: Biology, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Modern Languages and Literatures (including Portuguese, French and Portuguese Studies, Portuguese and German Studies, Portuguese and Spanish Studies, British and German Studies, and French and English Studies, all with the scientific and teaching options).
Beginning of the degrees in Management and Engineering of Systems and Computers in the academic year of 1992-93. Integration of the Instituto Superior de Artes Plásticas da Madeira in the University, with the name of Instituto Superior de Arte e Design, University of Madeira (ISAD / UMa).
The first graduates in Physical Education and Sport finish their degree and the first Pedagogical Aptitude and Scientific Capacity and the first Aggregation are carried out at the University of Madeira. Also, in 1994 the first PhD student obtains its degree. UMa starts its first master course: Master's in History. Following the Math Encounters i>, the Center for Mathematical Sciences (CCM) is created for the research in Mathematics.
The first Statutes of the University of Madeira, signed by the Minister of Education, Professor Eduardo Marçal Grilo, are approved at the Assembly of the University. On July 28, 1996, the first Rector of UMa took office: Professor Dr. José Manuel Castanheira da Costa. In this year happened the first ceremony of the Corte das Fitas in Largo do Colégio and the Caruncho Week.
The teaching of the various degrees, located in the Jesuit College, in Rua Bela de São Tiago building and in other locations of Funchal, moved to the new building of the Penteada University Campus, as well as the installation of the several departments of UMa.
The first Master's degree presentation is held at the University of Madeira for the Master's in History. Professor Ruben Antunes Capela takes office as Rector on July 19, 2000.
With the retirement of Professor Dr. Rúben Capela, Professor Dr. José Manuel Cunha Leal Molarinho Carmo is the Acting Rector until the arrival of the new Rector, Professor Dr. Pedro Telhado Pereira. There is also the integration of the Escola Superior de Enfermagem da Madeira in the University of Madeira.
Adequacy of the courses to the so-called Bologna Process and creation of new cycles of studies, according to the new paradigm. First external evaluation conducted by the European University Association .
On April 15, 2008 UMa is visited by the President of the Republic, Professor Aníbal Cavaco Silva. The new Statutes of the University of Madeira are approved in accordance with the new Legal Regime of Higher Education Institutions. Its homologation takes place on October 9, 2008, by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Professor Doctor Mariano Gago.
The University Residence Our Lady of Victories opens on February 1st. The University of Madeira, Madeira Tecnopolo, SA, and the University of Carnegie Mellon founded the M-ITI: Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute.
Professor José Manuel Cunha Leal Molarinho Carmo takes office on April 18, 2013 as the new Rector of UMa. The University of Madeira celebrates 25 years of existence, awarding its first Doctorate Honoris Causa to Professor Doctor Ludwig Paul Ary Evert Streit.