Introduction & History of University System
The entry of westernised pattern of education and the birth of the university system were the result of the 1854 despatch of Sir Charles Wood, well known as Wood’s Despatch, to the Governors of the East India Company. It laid down guidelines for founding of a university system modelled on the University of London, that would affiliate the existing colleges, set standards for courses, prescribe appropriate textbooks, conduct examinations and confer degrees. Thus the Universities of Calcutta, Mumbai, and Madras came into existence in 1857. For nearly 25 years, the higher educational needs of the entire British India were met by these three universities. In 1881, the University of Punjab (now in Pakistan) was established, followed by the University of Allahabad in 1887. To cater to the needs of the North and the Central India.
The Indian Universities Act of 1904 had defined more explicitly the role of universities. It stipulated that the universities should assume more responsibilities for teaching, provide opportunities for research and exercise effective control over the colleges affiliated to them. In 1915, the Banaras Hindu University was established as a teaching and residential university without the power to affiliate any college. It was followed by the establishment of the Universities of Mysore (1916), Patna (1917) and Osmania (1918). In 1917, the Calcutta University Commission under the chairmanship of Sir Michael Sadler, recommended setting up of Intermediate Colleges to offer a two-year sandwich course between high school and degree levels. While the Calcutta University did not accept the recommendation, several other universities, like the Punjab and Allahabad, implemented it. The Sadler Commission also emphasised the need for residential universities. Thus, during the 1920s several residential universities came into existence, which included Aligarh Muslim University (1920), Lucknow (1921), Dacca (now in Bangladesh) (1921), Delhi (1922) and Annamalai (1929). Three other universities established in this decade are Nagpur (1923), Andhra (1926) and Agra (1927). During the same period postgraduate departments were set up in a number of universities and research activities were encouraged.
The growth of universities slowed down considerably during the Second World War period. Only four universities were established during this period, viz., Travancore (now Kerala University), Utkal (1943), Saugar (now Doctor Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya) (1946) and Rajasthan (1947). The first university established after Independence was the East Punjab University (now Punjab University) consequent upon the partition of the erstwhile Punjab Province. Thereafter, there had been a spectacular proliferation of universities, the number of which now stands at 255. Government of India had decided to establish one more Central University named Mizoram University. The Mizoram University Bill, 1999 has been passed by the Rajya Sabha on 23 December, 1999.
How univerities are estabilished?
Universities can be established under a Central Act (Central Universities) or a State Act (State University). Of the 255 universities, 182 are State Universities and 17 Central Universities.
India has the distinction of having five universities exclusively for women. All the universities and university level institutions are members of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU).