University of Calcutta

From Academic Kids

Logo of the University of Calcutta

Formally established on the 24 January 1857, the University of Calcutta (also known as Calcutta University) was the first modern university in the Indian subcontinent. It has its main campuses in College Street, Rajabazar, Alipore and a host of affiliated colleges in greater Calcutta .



Pioneers and Visionaries

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As the first modern university in the Indian sub-continent the University saw its direction being steered by the first Indian vice-chancellor, Sir Gooroodas Banerjee and later by the Indian vice-chancellors Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee and his son Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee (also a vice chancellor).

Other renowned teachers and educationists such as:

have all worked at the university.

It was Dr. Fredrick John, the education secretary to the then British Government in India, who first tendered a proposal to the British Government in London for the establishment of a university in Calcutta, along the lines of London University, but at that time the plan failed to obtain the necessary approval.

However, a proposal to establish two universities, one in Calcutta and the other in Bombay was later accepted in 1854 and the necessary authority was given. The Calcutta University Act came into force on 24th January, 1857 and a 41-member Senate was formed as the policy making body of the university.

During the British era and through the period until Independence in the 1960s, it was regarded as one of the few seats of academic excellence to the east of Suez.

When the university was first established it had a catchment area covering the area from Agra to Burma (now Myanmar) - the largest of any Indian university.

Early begininings

Members of the University's first Senate include:

  • Alexander Duff,
  • Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar,
  • Prasanna Kumar Thakur,
  • Prince Golam Mohammad,
  • William Gordon Pratt,
  • Frederick John Moat.

The first Chancellor and Vice-chancellor of the Calcutta University were the then Governor General Lord Canning and Sir James William Colvil, the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, respectively.

Sir Gooroodas Banerjee was the first Indian vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta. The first meeting of the Senate was held in the Council room of the Calcutta Medical College. A temporary office of the university was first started in a few rented rooms in Camac Street.

On 30th January, 1858, the Syndicate of the Calcutta University was constituted.For several years, afterwards the meetings of the Senate and Syndicate were held in a room of the Writer's Building. 244 candidates appeared for the first Entrance Examination of the university which was held in the month of March 1857 in the Town Hall of Calcutta.

In 1862, a decision was taken by the Senate to construct for the university a building of its own. Accordingly, the historical Senate Hall was constructed at a cost of Rs. 2,52,221/- and inaugurated on 12th March 1873 by holding the convocation of the university.

Tradition and Continuity

Modelled on the University of London, the University of Calcutta's current courses include:

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At a glance

Calcutta University currently has:

  • 58 departments,
  • 18 research centres,
  • 650 teachers,
  • 3000 non-teaching staff and
  • 12,400 post-graduate students.

A tradition of notable firsts

  • The first university located to the east of Suez to teach European Classics, English Literature, European and Indian Philosophy and Occidental and Oriental History.
  • The first medical school of Asia, the Calcutta Medical College was set up in 1835. Later it was affiliated to the university.
  • The first college for women in India, the Bethune College was set up in 1879.
  • The nation's first homeopathy college was established in 1880.
  • The Science College was established in 1917, the first in India.
  • The first blind school in India came into being in 1925.
  • The first university museum in India, The Ashutosh Museum, came into being in 1937.
  • The Government Arts College was established in 1951.
  • The Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (IISWBM) was set up in 1953 as the country's first management institute.

Recent Accreditation and Recognition

The university has been awarded the ‘five star university’ status by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council in 2001.

The Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China has recently prepared a list of the world's top 500 institutions of higher learning (universities, research institutes etc.). The complete list is now available on the internet under the heading "Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2004" (see link above). The University of Calcutta is the only university from India to appear on the list. The other institutions from India on the list are:

Academic Milieu

Students from the university have been taking higher studies abroad since its inception.

Students from this university are to be found all over the world. During the British era and in the era after Independence to the 1980s, the preferred destinations for furthering studies were primarily the United Kingdom, United States of America, Eire, France, Soviet Union and Germany. Recent preferences for visiting students of this university include, apart from the above, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Cyprus, China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

In a contrast to a previous era, where the preferred subjects were Humanities, Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Law, the current preferred subjects now include:

  • Business Management,
  • Finance,
  • Commerce,
  • Communication,
  • Information Technology,
  • Fashion Designing,
  • Hospitality Management,
  • Biotechnology,
  • Genetics,
  • Robotics, and
  • Nano-technology.

Notable Alumni/Faculty

Two past presidents of India:

were associated with this University, as were three Nobel Laureates:

Burmese politician Dr.Ba Maw, who in 1937, became the first Burmese premier under British rule and was head of state in the first sovereign (although pro-Japanese) government during World War II (August 1943-May 1945) is an alumni.

In 1883 Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu became the first women graduates from the University.

India's first female physician, Dr. Kadambini Basu received her medical degree from the University.

For a fuller list of the University's famous alumni, see the List of University of Calcutta people.

External links


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