The university relocated several times during its existence. It moved to Macau in 1900 to escape the repressive measures implemented by the Qing Dynasty, then back to Guangzhou in 1904. During the 1930s and 40s, the university was forced to move several times as Japanese armies advanced across China. In 1937, it relocated to Hong Kong as the Japanese occupied Canton, and in 1942, to Shaoguan in northern Guangdong, as the Japanese occupied Hong Kong. After World War II, the university was finally able to return to Guangzhou.
In 1953, Lingnan University was incorporated into Sun Yat-sen University. Members of the university who fled from communist rule to Hong Kong founded Lingnan College in Hong Kong to continue the spirit of the university in 1967. The college became in 1999.
* Wing-tsit Chan, eminent Chinese philosopher and academic
* Wong Shik Ling, a in Cantonese language