In 1962, the Department of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Interior, was assigned by the Thai government’s Southern Development Committee to appoint a committee tasked with initiating a project to establish a university in southern Thailand according to the Southern Development Plan. Initially, the Southern Thailand University Project Committee intended to establish the College of Arts and Sciences before developing it further into a full-fledged university. The committee started the project by surveying the area where the university would be established, at Thung Naren, Bo Thong sub-district, Nong Chik district, Pattani province. However, the operation came to a temporary halt in 1963 due to budget constraints and a change in government. The project resumed after a new Southern Development Committee was formed, with H.E. Col. Thanat Khoman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of as chairman.
The new Southern Development Committee has been working on the project to establish a university in the south until 1965. The government approved two main objectives. The first was the establishment of a university in the south, with the center at Rusamilae subdistrict, Mueang district, Pattani province. The first faculty to be established at this location was the Faculty of Engineering, while additional faculties’ establishment projects were to be subsequently carried out in other southern provinces: the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Political Science at Khao Tum subdistrict, Mueang district, Yala province; the Faculty of Medicine at Khao Rup Chang subdistrict, Mueang district, Songkhla province; and the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy at Hat Yai district, Songkhla province. The other main objective of the committee was the allocation of a 30-million-baht budget to implement the first objective in 1966.
The Southern Development Committee founded the Southern Thailand University Establishment Committee in 1965 with H.E. Col. Thanat Khoman as the chairman. University construction was commenced at Rusamilae subdistrict, Muang district, Pattani province in 1966. The first facility was built for the Faculty of Engineering. During this construction, the university was not yet officially named; instead, the name “Southern University” was adopted. A temporary university office was established in the building of the Faculty of Medical Science, University of Medicine (currently the Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University) during this period. In the beginning, university administration was carried out by the Southern Thailand University Establishment Committee, with its chairman, H.E. Col. Thanat Khoman, acting as the university president. Subsequently, as an auspicious gesture, the committee humbly requested that H.M. the King bestow a name on the university. On 22 September 1967, H.M. the King graciously granted the university the name “Prince of Songkla University” in honor of his beloved father, H.R.H. Somdej Chao Fa Mahidol Adulyadej Kromma Luang Songkla Nagarind. In commemoration of this auspicious occasion, the university has since proclaimed 22 September of every year as “Songkla Nagarind Day”, one of the important dates in the calendar of the university’s annual events.
The university opened in 1967, and the first group of 50 students enrolled in engineering programs at the Faculty of Engineering, using the building of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Medicine. Regarding teaching and learning management, Prof. Dr. Stang Mongkolsuk proposed the establishment of the Faculty of Science to be the core of teaching basic subjects in science and liberal arts to the students enrolled in engineering programs at the Faculty of Engineering and to other faculties that would be opened in May 1967. The university had five first-generation lecturers: Dr. Pradit Sheoychitra, Dr. Prida Wibulswat, Dr. Nart Tuntawiroon, Mr. Yenchai Laohavanich, and Dr. Siripong Sripipat, responsible for teaching science subjects. The teaching of basic engineering subjects of practical nature and experimental equipment was carried out with the cooperation of the Military Technical Training School, Bangkok.
While university facility construction was underway in Pattani, Prof. Dr. Stang Mongkolsuk and the new faculty members of the university traveled to survey and supervise an on-site inspection of the construction. They found that the area was not appropriate to construct facilities for the Faculty of Engineering due to the low-lying coastal landscape and soft soil unable to support the weight of heavy machinery and large buildings. Furthermore, the humidity and water vapor from the sea could easily damage the faculty's delicate metal and electronic instruments and equipment. The survey team agreed that Pattani was more suitable to be used as a building for the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Arts. As for the Faculty of Engineering, the survey team found that the area at Kho Hong subdistrict, Hat Yai district, Songkhla province was suitable to establish university facilities, so they contacted Khunying Long Atthakravisunthorn, and she generously donated the aforementioned 690-rai plot of land for further establishment of a university.
Regarding administration, a royal decree was issued promulgating the Prince of Songkla University Act, effective on 12 March 1968. Therefore, the university designated 13 March as “University Foundation Day”. On 8 April 1968, another royal decree established the first three organizational units of the university: the Office of the President, the Faculty of Science, and the Faculty of Engineering.
On 17 April 1968, a royal decree appointed H.E. Col. Thanat Khoman as President and Prof. Dr. Stang Mongkolsuk as Vice President. In 1968, the university accepted the first 60 students to study at the Faculty of Education: 35 students majoring in Science, and 25 students majoring in Liberal Arts. In the first semester, the building at the Faculty of Medical Science, University of Medicine, was used for teaching and learning. When the construction of the Pattani facilities was partially completed on 9 November 1968, faculty and students moved to the Pattani Campus in the second semester, while students of the Faculty of Engineering continued to study in Bangkok. Later, the Announcement of the Prime Minister's Office was issued on 5 December 1968, to announce the cancellation of the division of government agencies, publicized on 8 April 1968, officially adding the Faculty of Education as an organizational unit of the university.
The construction of the university facilities at Kho Hong subdistrict, Hat Yai district, Songkhla province began in 1969. Once construction was partially completed in 1971, approximately 200 lecturers and the sophomore, junior, and senior students of the Faculty of Engineering relocated to the Hat Yai Campus on 5 July 1971, while freshmen stayed in Bangkok, moved only in the first semester of the academic year 1972. The 60 first-generation students of the Faculty of Science admitted in 1969, and staff from various units of the university also moved to Hat Yai Campus in the first semester of the academic year 1972. Therefore, it is considered that Prince of Songkla University has moved its office to Hat Yai district, Songkhla province permanently in 1972.
Since then, the university has been operating with great progress. Currently, 35 faculties/colleges produce graduates, offering 326 academic disciplines, certificates and graduate studies, 174 fields, Bachelor's degrees (4-6 years), 152 branches.