History of the University of Calcutta

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The history of the University of Calcutta began in 1857; it is the oldest of the modern universities in India.[1]


The University of Calcutta was founded in 1857. Dr. Fredrick John, the education secretary to the then British Government in India, 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 through Wood's despatch. The Calcutta University Act came into force on 24 January 1857 and a 41-member Senate was formed as the policy making body of the university. When the university was first established it had a catchment area covering the area from Lahore to Rangoon (now in Myanmar) — the largest of any Indian university.[1]

The main entrance of the university at College Street.

The first Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University were Governor General Lord Canning and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Sir James William Colvile, respectively.[2] In 1858, Joddu Nath Bose and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay became the first graduates of the university.[3]


On 30 January 1858, the Syndicate of the Calcutta University started functioning.[3] The first meeting of the Senate was held in the Council room of the Calcutta Medical College. A temporary office of the university was started in a few rented rooms in Camac Street. For several years afterwards the meetings of the Senate and Syndicate were held in a room of the Writers' building. 244 candidates appeared for the first Entrance Examination of the university, held in 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 12 March 1873 by holding the convocation of the university.


Following its inauguration, many institutions came under its jurisdiction.

Notable graduates and faculty[edit]

Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu became the first lady graduates of the country in 1882.[3] The Hon'ble Justice Gooroodas Banerjee became the first Indian Vice-Chancellor of University of Calcutta in the year 1890.[2] Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was the Vice-Chancellor for four consecutive two-year terms (1906–1914) and a fifth two-year term (1921–23). In 1902, Indian Universities Commission was formed and the constitution of the senate initiated. In 1908, University library begun functioning and the University press was established. A number of well-known personalities joined the university in the first quarter of the twentieth century, including Jagadish Chandra Bose (appointed University Lecturer in 1907), Prafulla Chandra Roy (Palit Professor of Chemistry in 1916), Sarada Prasanna Das (Professor of Mathematics from 1900–1901 and 1915–1930) Satyendra Nath Bose (university teacher in 1916), C. V. Raman (Palit Professor of Physics in 1917), Meghnad Saha (university teacher in 1917), Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Professor of Philosophy in 1921), Anil Kumar Gain (Professor of Mathematics and Statistics), and more.[3] A centralized Post-Graduate system of teaching and research was started in 1917. The Asutoish building was opened in 1926. The Asutosh Museum of Indian Art started in 1937. Institute of Nuclear Physics, the first of its kind in Asia, was founded under the leadership of Meghnad Saha in 1945. After Independence of India, C. Rajagopalachari became the first Indian Chancellor of the university.


  1. ^ a b Chakraborty, Rachana. "University of Calcutta". Banglapedia. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  2. ^ a b "Genesis and Historical Overview of the University". University and its Campuses. University of Calcutta. Archived from the original on 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  3. ^ a b c d "Memorable Events". University and its Campuses. University of Calcutta. Archived from the original on 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2007-03-22.