Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and in 1998 the Episcopal Conference established Saint Augustine University to provide third-level education for its people. The main campus is at Mwanza in the north-west of the country on the shores of Lake Victoria. Recent expansion has led to the development of a number of constituent colleges at other locations. The university caters for a student population of approximately 10,000 drawn from all religious and ethnic groups. From the outset the university has targeted the poorer sections of the population and less developed regions of Tanzania.

SAUT derives all of its €4 million annual revenue from student fees and a small number of international donors without any government support. The university has six faculties (Medicine, Law, Engineering, Education, Social Sciences and Media Studies) providing seven graduate and seven undergraduate programmes.