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India's Oldest Universities

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Some of India's oldest universities actually pre-date Independence.

Some of India's oldest universities actually pre-date Independence.

India's Oldest Universities

It is amazing that some of the universities in India that still stand tall date back to nearly two centuries.

This guide doesn't include the likes of Nalanda University, which happens to be one of the oldest in the world. Here, you'll only find universities that are still in operation, which apparently Nalanda isn't.

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

List of Oldest Active Universities in India

Wherever established shows two entries, the first one is of the opening year and the next is when they were given university status.



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


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 university status in the country 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—the University of Mumbai, Madras, and Calcutta came into existence.

The state of Uttar Pradesh has the most names (6) on 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 university status and also the oldest. This only offers studies related to Theology/Divinity. There are 52 colleges affiliated with 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 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. Its campus covers 1,600 acres and its engineering and the law colleges 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 is Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University which is in 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 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 on 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.

Some Old Ones That 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 in Hyderabad and Kakinada. JNTU now boasts of tech and management programs.

A Legacy of Higher Learning

I hope you enjoyed this guide to the country's oldest schools and universities! There are so many venerable and magnificent schools in India. It was a pleasure bringing to you some of the oldest of them.

© 2011 Kannan


Dr. V. Sivamurugan on May 28, 2020:

Pachaiyappa's College in Chennai is one of oldest started in 1st January 1841 by the will of Vallal Pachaiyappa Mudaliar, Philanthropist .

Karna on February 19, 2020:

St Aloysius College of Mangalore was established on 1880 and you not added it in ur list

Sarthak Bhardwaj on November 04, 2019:

Bareilly College, Bareilly is a prime college of the M. J. P. Rohilkhand University located in Bareilly in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It was established during the British period in the year 1837.

Sarthak Bhardwaj on November 04, 2019:

You know Bareilly College, Bareilly is a prime college of the M. J. P. Rohilkhand University located in Bareilly in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It was established during the British period in the year 1837.

Kamal on October 14, 2019:

Punjab University was formed and established in 1882 in Lahore, then British India. Ironically Chandigarh at that time was not even envisioned and only planned and built post independence as a Capital to Indian Punjab, Lahore on the contrary was capital of united Punjab. First building of the University stand proud even today in Lahore.

ram narain lohkar on July 06, 2019:

In Aligarh, the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College was established in the year 1875 and it became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. Muir Central College was started in 1872 in Allahabad and it became a university in 1887. As such, the University of Allahabad is older than Aligarh Muslim University. In fact, Aligarh Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College was affiliated to Calcutta University for a couple of years and then to the University of Allahabad up to 1920. Thus, all the universities established in India before 1920 are older than Aligarh Muslim University.

karthy on March 14, 2019:

what about st joshep college trichy -1844

Anonymous on March 11, 2019:

what about Utkal University ?

Akho on December 05, 2018:

The Serampore College (University) consists of two entities: The theological faculty and a separate college with faculties of arts, science, commerce.

Admin on July 18, 2018:

Sanskrit university in Varanasi is mentioned as oldest and still running university of india! Roots are from 1796.

S niyogi on September 28, 2017:

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

Isha Singh on June 24, 2017:

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

R on March 11, 2016:

Great Information to india

Shaloo Walia from India on December 10, 2015:

Quite interesting and informative hub!

mamta on August 05, 2015:

Thanks for helping in my project...

Avhidipto on February 28, 2015:

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...

Debmalya Dasgupta on January 04, 2015:


Its not my expertise, its my interest.

Don't stop writing.


Kannan (author) from Mumbai on December 13, 2014:

@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.

Debmalya Dasgupta on December 12, 2014:


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).

Kannan (author) from Mumbai on November 28, 2014:

@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.

Kannan (author) from Mumbai on November 28, 2014:

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

Kannan (author) from Mumbai on November 28, 2014:

@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.

ankit on August 20, 2014:

Why not IISc is in the list formed in 1911.

Subir on December 15, 2013:

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..

Siva on March 19, 2013:

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

akash on October 23, 2012:

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

Sravanti Peri from India on August 12, 2012:

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

Md Mobasshir Reyaz on January 13, 2012:

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

Kannan (author) from Mumbai on December 20, 2011:

@TwilightDream Thanks for the valuable comment.

Kingbell from Chennai, India on December 20, 2011:

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