The Top 20 Oldest Universities of India

Updated on April 25, 2018
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Kannan loves to create articles comprising Top 10's/20's. He has a knack for preparing listicles that help readers obtain information.

From the History Books!

It is amazing that some of the universities that still stand tall dates back to nearly two centuries. Saluting the spirit of such magnificent universities this is just a small effort to list the oldest universities in India.

Though this page doesn't include the likes of Nalanda University which happens to be one of the oldest of the world; here you'll only find universities that are still in their operations, which apparently Nalanda isn't.

The criteria for compiling the list was to select institutions which started its operation as universities or were granted university status later in the years. The only exceptions are institutes which were opened earlier but only recently were granted university status.

List of most oldest operational universities of India

(click column header to sort results)
Senate of Serampore College (University)
1818 / 1829
University of Calcutta
University of Mumbai
University of Madras
Aligarh Muslim University
Panjab University, Chandigarh
Allahabad University
Banaras Hindu University
University of Mysore
Patna University
Osmania University
Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth
University of Lucknow
Visva-Bharati University
University of Delhi
New Delhi
Nagpur University
Andhra University
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University (Agra University)
Annamalai University
University of Roorkee / Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
1847 / 1949
Wherever established shows two entries, the first one is of the opening year and the next is when they were given university status.

Short Analysis of the Table

It will come as a surprise to many as the oldest university in India is Senate of Serampore College/University which was established in 1818 and was the first to be granted as the university status in India. Serampore University received the status in 1829.

The University of Roorkee which is now known as the IIT Roorkee comes at the final position. The year 1857 seems to be the most fashionable year in the pre-independence era to start universities; namely University of Mumbai, Madras, and Calcutta came into existence.

The state of Uttar Pradesh has the most names (6) in the list with Aligarh Muslim University, Allahabad University, BHU (Banaras Hindu University), University of Lucknow, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth, and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University (Agra University).

My home state of Maharashtra has 2 names on the list - Nagpur as well as Mumbai University. The all-important South Indian state of Tamil Nadu has two mentions.

1) Senate of Serampore College (University) in West Bengal

  • Established: 1818, university status in 1829 (200 years old)
  • Motto: Wise will possess the glory
  • Description: Serampore institute is the first institute of India to be granted the university status and also the oldest. This only offers studies related to Theology/Divinity. There are 52 colleges affiliated to it from all over India.


2) University of Calcutta in West Bengal

  • Established: 1857 (161 years old)
  • Motto: Advancement of learning
  • Description: True to its motto this university is at the forefront when it comes to higher studies. The University of Calcutta has given many students who have done great work in their respective fields of expertise. Some of the notable students include Rabindranath Tagore, C.V Raman, and Amartya Sen.


3) University of Mumbai in Maharashtra

  • Established: 1857 (161 years old)
  • Motto: The fruit of learning is a good character and righteous conduct
  • Description: One of the major universities in India, this provides affiliation to more than 700 colleges. This is also one of the largest when it comes to the number of students.


4) University of Madras in Tamil Nadu

  • Established: 1857 (161 years old)
  • Motto: Learning promotes natural talent
  • Description: With six campuses and more than 100 colleges, this is one of the major centers of learning in South India. Among the affiliated colleges Loyola college, Presidency College, and Queen Mary's college are notable.


5) Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh

  • Established: 1875 (143 years old)
  • Motto: Taught man what he knew not (Quran 96:5)
  • Description: AMU is one of the few institutions that are conferred with the prestigious Institute of National Importance (INI). INIs are considered to be at the forefront of developing highly skilled and creative thinkers.


6) Panjab University in Chandigarh

  • Established: 1882 (136 years old)
  • Motto: Lead us unto the light from darkness
  • Description: This has more than 75 departments of teaching and research. Also has 3 regional centers and about 190 colleges. Has more than 550 acres of the campus area.


7) Allahabad University in Uttar Pradesh

  • Established: 1887 (131 years old)
  • Motto: Every branch yields a tree
  • Description: It is also known as the Oxford of the East. This premier institute covers fields such as Arts, Science, Commerce, Law, and Medicine through its courses. This has the unique distinction of giving many notable politicians such as VP Singh, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Murli Manohar Joshi, Arjun Singh among others.


8) Banaras Hindu University in Uttar Pradesh

  • Established: 1916 (102 years old)
  • Motto: Knowledge imparts immortality
  • Description: Students from all over India come here for higher studies. In fact, it is the largest when it comes to resident students. More than 20,000 students live and study here. Banaras itself is an important place politically as well as spiritually.


9) University of Mysore in Karnataka

  • Established: 1916 (102 years old)
  • Motto: Nothing is equal to knowledge
  • Description: The erstwhile princely state of Mysore's Maharaja was instrumental in the foundation of this university. The University of Mysore is famous for its library all over India which has more than 800,000+ books.


10) Patna University in Bihar

  • Established: 1917 (103 years old)
  • Motto: Satya Tatveya Vijeyagyatsmeva
  • Description: Patna University is the first university that was established in Bihar. Among all the list of universities in Bihar, this is the most famous. With 10 colleges, it reaches many parts of the state.


11) Osmania University in Telangana

  • Established: 1918 (100 years old)
  • Motto: Lead us from darkness to light
  • Description: If we analyze the above table then this is the oldest university in Telangana and the third oldest in South India. Built in the huge campus area of 1600 acres and its engineering and the law college are ranked among the best in India.


12) Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth in Uttar Pradesh

  • Established: 1921 (97 years old)
  • Motto: Knowledge imparts immortality
  • Description: Varanasi is obvious to be on the list as its an ancient city. This varsity was established in the early 20th century.

Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.

— Mark Twain

13) University of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh

  • Established: 1921 (97 years old)
  • Motto: Light and learning
  • Description: Lucknow university is the 16th oldest university in India. Uttar Pradesh is the largest state when it comes to population. This list has seven universities from UP. Lucknow University is another one apart from the other five above and the last one being Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University which is at the 20th place.


14. Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal

  • Established: 1921 (97 years old)
  • Motto: Where the world makes a home in a single nest
  • Description: This has given many esteemed thinkers and people who have made a tremendous impact on the society. People like Mahasweta Devi, Satyajit Ray, and Amartya Sen are alumni of this historically important institution.


15) University of Delhi (DU)

  • Established: 1922 (96 years old)
  • Motto: Dedicated to truth
  • Description: The second oldest university in Delhi. In my opinion, DU is the most sought after among students in this whole list. DU has 77 colleges with campuses' viz. the North campus and the South Campus.


16) Nagpur University in Maharashtra

  • Established: 1923 (95 years old)
  • Motto: Not mentioned in the official website
  • Description: The second oldest university in Maharashtra after the University of Mumbai. This has been accredited as a grade A varsity by NAAC. The university has two campuses, the old one near Maharajbagh zoo which serves as the administrative section and the new one at Futala lake which caters to other departments and students.


17) Andhra University

  • Established: 1926 (92 years old)
  • Motto: May the divine light illuminate our studies
  • Description: There is something about the motto of the universities which stresses upon the larger truth about the importance of education. Andhra universities motto seeks the divine powers of the almighty to lighten the lives of those seeking education. One more thing I quite like about all these places is the entrance. The entrance of all major ones is excellent examples of fine architecture. Below is one such.


18) Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University in Uttar Pradesh

  • Established: 1927 (93 years old)
  • Motto: Tumso Maa Jyotigarmay
  • Description: The last one is again from Uttar Pradesh which was formerly known as Agra University. Agra is known for its history and the Mughal reign. Ambedkar University is known for its department of Institute of Engineering and Technology, Institute of Social Sciences, Dau Dayal Institute of Vocational Education, and School of Life Sciences.


19. Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu

  • Established: 1929 (89 years old)
  • Motto: With courage and faith
  • Description: Besides being on this list, it is also the first private university in India. This was recently taken over by the state government. With more than 500 courses being offered it serves thousands of students.


20) IIT Roorkee

  • Established: 1847, university status in 1949 (171 years old)
  • Motto: Nothing can be achieved without hard work
  • Description: This premier engineering college was earlier known as the University of Roorkee. Later it was given the status of an IIT to re-brand itself as a sought-after destination for engineering. Most engineering aspirants vie for a seat here.


Did You Know?

The oldest university in the world which is still in its operation is the University of Bologna, just for a fact and it was founded in 1088, that's something for a year.

Some Old Ones Which Missed Out

These are some of the institutes which do not make the cut as they were granted full status later or only recently.

Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University in Uttar Pradesh

  • Established: 1911, university status in 2002 (107 years old)
  • Motto: Sincerity-Service-Sacrifice
  • Description: Ranked among the top 10 medical colleges in India by various ranking organizations, Newspapers, and magazines. This was earlier known as King George's Medical College.


Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi

  • Established: 1920, university status in 1988 (98 years old)
  • Motto: He taught man what he knew not
  • Description: Jamia is the oldest university in Delhi which was given the status of a central university in 1988. It has around 9 faculties of studies, some of which are: Faculty of Law, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics, Faculty of Fine Arts.


Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Andhra Pradesh

  • Established: 1946, university status in 1972 (72 years old)
  • Motto: Excellence in action is yoga
  • Description: This has now branched out to having centers at Hyderabad and Kakinada. JNTU now boasts of tech and management programs.


Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Kannan Reddy


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      • profile image

        S niyogi 7 months ago

        Krishnagar Govt college was established in 1846. Search in Google you will get it.

      • profile image

        Isha Singh 11 months ago

        Panjab University is the best university located in THE CITY BEAUTIFUL- CHANDIGARH with the most qualified staff and ample of opportunities to grab.

      • profile image

        2 years ago

        Great Information to india

      • swalia profile image

        Shaloo Walia 2 years ago from India

        Quite interesting and informative hub!

      • profile image

        mamta 2 years ago

        Thanks for helping in my project...

      • profile image

        Avhidipto 3 years ago

        Presidency university is the oldest in India and one of the oldest in Asia also .The Calcutta university is the largest multidisciplinary university in Asia...also it has largest research institute also.. centre for research in nanoscience and nanotechnology...chk the website...

      • profile image

        Debmalya Dasgupta 3 years ago


        Its not my expertise, its my interest.

        Don't stop writing.


      • kannanwrites profile image

        Kannan Reddy 3 years ago from Mumbai

        @Debmalya Dasgupta This above writeup was indeed about the oldest universities and without any choice I had to include institutes which were given university status later their establishment.

        I don't know if universities and related topics are your area of expertise. But anyway thanks for your enriching comment and I must you have a great eye for research.

      • profile image

        Debmalya Dasgupta 3 years ago


        Good efforts to write something about the oldest educational institutions in India. Thank!

        But my first confusion is whether u mean "the oldest institutes in India" or "the oldest universities in India".

        If you consider the university, the university of Calcutta (January 1857) would be the oldest one. The second is the university of Bombay and third, the university of Madras.

        IIT Roorkey was given university status in 1948. Therefore, it should not be considered as the second oldest university in India. This is the oldest engineering college in India. Bengal Engineering College is being considered as the second oldest engineering college in India.

        Senate of Serampore College was established in 1818 by Danish Govt. and continued to give degree in arts and theology from 1827. In this respect, this college may be considered as the first university in India.

        If the topic was "the oldest college in India", then undoubtedly Presidency College (1817) would rank the first. It is the oldest college in south Asia. Please remember once it housed even some of the most prestigious institutions of India like the University of Calcutta, Bengal Engineering College and Indian Statistical Institute. The second oldest college is then Serampore College (1818).

      • kannanwrites profile image

        Kannan Reddy 3 years ago from Mumbai

        @Subir Happy to receive your comment. Note that Presidency University was given the status of full university only recently in 2010.

        Also, Bengal Engineering and Science University was recently indicted in the list as a university.

        Hope this clears your doubt about both of the above mentioned ones.

      • kannanwrites profile image

        Kannan Reddy 3 years ago from Mumbai

        @Akash Note that Gurukul Kangri University is a deemed university and was given the status much after the above list of varsities.

      • kannanwrites profile image

        Kannan Reddy 3 years ago from Mumbai

        @Ankit Please note that IISc Bangalore was given deemed university status in the year 1958 hence it didn't got a mention in the list.

      • profile image

        ankit 3 years ago

        Why not IISc is in the list formed in 1911.

      • profile image

        Subir 4 years ago

        Serampur College is a college under Calcutta University, you can see the university website.

        The first three universities established in India are Calcutta University, Madras and Bombay. Calcutta University was established on January, 1857. Then in July Bombay University was established and in September Madras University was established. So the rank that you have shown are wrong.

        Also you should know about the Presidency University, Kolkata established in 1817, probably the oldest one in India and it is not mentioned in the list.

        Also, Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur is not in the list. It was established in 1856. You show work out much before you write in the web..

      • profile image

        Siva 5 years ago

        Where is The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore ???

      • profile image

        akash 5 years ago

        well,i guess gurukul kangri university,haridwar should also have been in this list(established 1902 by swami shraddhanand)....btw,nice effort...

      • Sravanti Peri profile image

        Sravanti Peri 5 years ago from India

        Great piece of information. Really I never knew anything about this before

      • profile image

        Md Mobasshir Reyaz 6 years ago

        Why Patna Univ doesn't get d tag of Central University despite of being so reputed n so old

      • kannanwrites profile image

        Kannan Reddy 6 years ago from Mumbai

        @TwilightDream Thanks for the valuable comment.

      • TwilightDream profile image

        Kingbell 6 years ago from Chennai, India

        Marked 'interesting'. Very great information about Indian Universities. Keep writing!


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