A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY
The University of Travancore which eventually became the University of Kerala was established in 1937 by a promulgation of the Maharaja of Travancore, Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma who was also the first Chancellor of the University. Sir C. P Ramaswamy Ayyar, the then Diwan of the State, was the first Vice-Chancellor. It was the sixteenth University to be set up in India and ten Colleges within the State of Travancore which were affiliated to the Madras University became the affiliated colleges of the University of Travancore.
In 1957, the Kerala University Act, Act 14 of 1957, was brought into force and the University of Travancore was renamed University of Kerala. The University had three campuses located in three different parts of the State viz. Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. In 1968, the University Centre at Kozhikode became a full -fledged University covering the Colleges and Departments located in Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur Districts of Kerala. The Cochin University of Science and Technology and the Kerala Agricultural University were set up in 1971 and in 1983, the Mahatma Gandhi University was established. With the establishment of these Universities, the area of the jurisdiction of the University of Kerala has been limited to Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha Districts and some parts of Pathanamthitta District.
At present, the University has sixteen faculties and 41 departments of teaching and research. There are 157 affiliated colleges. Of these, 46 are aided Arts and Science colleges and 14 are unaided . There are two Law colleges, 17 Engineering colleges (of which 14 are unaided), four Medical Colleges (two are self financing) seven aided Teachers’ Training colleges, 30 unaided Teacher Training Colleges, four Ayurveda colleges, two Homeopathy colleges, one Sidha Medical College, two Fine Arts Colleges, one Music College, three Dental colleges (of which two are unaided), four unaided Pharmacy colleges and one college of Physical Education. Besides these, there are four affiliated institutions conducting two year full time MBA course, five colleges offering MCA and ten Nursing colleges, all in the unaided sector. The University’s Engineering College in Kariavattom campus offers courses like Information Technology, Computer Science and Engineering, Electronics and Communication etc...
The University Departments offer a wide range of teaching and research at post-graduate, M.Phil. and Ph.D. levels. The courses in the Departments are conducted in the Credit and Semester System . The University has also extended the Semester System to all the Post Graduate courses from 2001. At present, about 32 colleges offer post graduate teaching programmes. Some of the affiliated colleges offer
M. Phil. courses and some colleges have been recognised as research centres. The University has also recognised a number of other institutions as research centres. All these institutions conform to the aims and objectives of the University and its programme of teaching and research.
The University’s colleges of Teacher Education (launched in 1990-91), offer B.Ed. with an intake of 180 students in each of the ten centres. The eight University Institutes of Technology offer courses like Computer Science, Electronics, Business Administration etc., Two centres conduct M. Sc. Computer Science and one UIT offers MBA.
The Institute of Distance Education caters to the needs of thousands who wish to enroll for different courses. In addition to the traditional degree and post - graduate courses, the Institute now runs degree courses like Computer Science and Computer Application. With the abolition of Private Registration in the post-graduate level, the Institute of Distance Education now offers all the PG courses which were once offered privately. As a result, the enrolment in the institute has grown threefold.
In addition to the Departments of teaching, the University also has several centres for studies and research in special areas. The International Centre for Kerala Studies, the Centre for Canadian Studies, the Centre for Australian Studies, the Centre for Comparative Literature, Sree Narayana Study Centre, Centre for English Language Teaching, Centre for Vedanta Studies, V.K. Krishna Menon Study Centre, Christian Study Centre for Cultural and Social Change and Centre for Gandhian Studies are functioning under the University. It has also been decided to start an Ambedkar Study Centre.
The Academic Staff College set up with UGC aid, offers orientation and refresher courses to the teachers in affiliated colleges. It has been rated as the best in the country.
The Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library, which has an invaluable collection of rare and precious manuscripts, has been made the State Nodal Agency for the preservation and documentation of manuscripts. A Digital Heritage Archiving Centre also functions in the Library.
The Department of Publications, one of the oldest Departments of the University, has brought out a series of glossaries in science subjects, popular science books and translations of classics. The five volume Kerala Sahitya Charithram written by Mahakavi Ulloor S. Parameswara Ayyar and the series Sahithya Nayakanmar (Men of Letters) are some of the most prestigious publications of the Department. The Chitra Ramayana, based on palm - leaf manuscripts, is another notable publication. The University has also published the first ever complete English translation of Hortus Malabaricus, the classical treatise on the plant wealth of Asia and the tropics, in 2003.
The seven volumes of the proposed eleven-volume Malayalam Lexicon have been released so far. The University has been publishing since 1946 the Journal of Indian History, a significant publication on historical studies and research. A quarterly newsletter entitled The University Herald is also published.
The Observatory, founded by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal in 1837, opens a world of celestial wonders to the students, through the computer-aided lectures and the facilities for star-gazing.
The University of Kerala has the honour of being the first University in India to ensure participation of students in the University Syndicate. The Academic Council and the Senate also have student members.
University Study Centres have been set up with UGC assistance, at Kollam, Alappuzha and Pandalam. These Centres cater to the needs of the students outside Thiruvananthapuram. Besides these, there are 13 Taluk Information Centres. The University also supplies information to students through the Helpdesks in affiliated colleges.
The Co-ordinator of the N.S.S programme and the Director of the Student Services organize youth welfare activities at the University level with the active co-operation of the University Students’ Union. The University Students’ Union has been very active since 1939 and has taken the initiative to offer to the students many community based and popular co-curricular activities. The University bagged the Indira Gandhi National Award for the best NSS activities in 2005
Department of Physical Education has gifted to the country outstanding sportsmen and women. The University is now planning to renovate the synthetic track of the University Stadium with Governmental assistance. The establishment of the Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education at Kariavattom, managed by the Government of India, is another land mark in the history of the University. Another significant development is the starting of several short term courses like TV News reading, Functional English, etc... in the Centre for Adult Continuing Education and Extension. This has enabled the University to realise the dream of ‘further education of the educated’. The CACEE received the UNESCO- NLM award for literacy in 2005.
During 1997, the University celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. The celebration involved the starting of new teaching Departments and setting up of new buildings like the International Youth Hostel at Thiruvananthapuram.
On 28th December 2000, the University conferred the Honorary Degree of D. Litt. on Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen. The other scholars honoured recently through the conferment of D. Litt. are Dr. K. J. Yesudas and Dr. Laurie Baker (2003).
The University’s Web site www.keralauniveristy.edu launched in January 2000, offers several services like downloadable application forms, question papers of past examinations, free resource links, subject gateway, etc,... The daily press releases and results of examinations are published on the site. The University also issues Degree Certificates with Hologram and over 112 security features. The Interactive Voice Response System helps students to get information over telephone.
The University of Kerala has widened its horizons by entering into academic cooperation with some foreign Universities like Valladolid of Spain and Claremont of the United States of America. The UGC has identified the University as one of the 26 institutions selected for promotion of India Studies by foreign students. The National Assessment and Accreditation Committee has placed the University at the B++ grade
Note: this post is a tribute to Aby Mammen, a friend and great brother in Christ from the State of Kerala, India.