Published On: Thu, Nov 23rd, 2017

It’s a historic century for Kerala’s sanctum of higher education

Even as a revolution raged in faraway Russia in the winter of 1917, the then kingdom of Travancore in the southwestern corner of India was sowing the seeds of a revolution of of another kind — in the field of education.

On November 23, 1917 the princely state of Travancore ordered the setting up of a committee to study and report back on whether or not it was desirable to set up a local university in the kingdom.

“The expansion and improvement of collegiate education in the State has been engaging the attention of His Highness the Maharaja’s government for sometime past,” the GO reads. Travancore in 1917 had one first grade college and one second grade college for women, a training college and a law college at Thiruvananthapuram (then Trivandrum). There were also two second grade colleges maintained by the CMS and LMS missions in Kottayam and Nagarcoil respectively. Although these colleges work well there is room for improvement, the GO noted.

All these colleges were affiliated to Madras University.

However, the GO noted, the time had arrived, “to consider the question whether a university adapted to local conditions and environment should be constituted.” The chairman of the committee was the then Director of Public Instruction L. C. Hodgson.

In addition to reporting whether a university for Travancore was desirable, the committee was also tasked with determining the nature of the university; whether it is to be teaching, residential or examining body, the location of the varsity and its constitution, the lines along which the university shall work.

The report shall give a clear idea of the financial aspects involved and should be accompanied by a draft bill embodying the recommendations of the committee, the GO mandated.

The committee shall begin work as soon as possible and submit their report to the government within one year, the GO notes.

Travancore University was finally established in 1937 and was one of the earliest universities in the country. Ten colleges in Travancore that were affiliated to Madras University became the first affiliated colleges of the nascent university. The then king of Travancore Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma was the first Chancellor and the then Dewan Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the first Vice Chancellor.

With the passing of the Kerala University Act of 1957, Travancore University was renamed the University of Kerala. At present the university has 16 faculties and 41 teaching departments.

A brief history of the University of Kerala can be had from the website