List of Oldest Universities in India

The present generation is more attracted towards the western educational institutes due to certain obvious reasons like their increasing popularity because of the advanced infrastructure and adaptability to latest technologies.

However, did you know that the oldest university in the world was built in India in the fifth century? The former Nalanda University, primarily a Buddhist monastery that worked as a university set up at Bihar was an important centre of learning long before Oxford, Cambridge, and Europe's oldest university Bologna were founded. 

The university attracted many scholars from all over Asia, surviving for hundreds of years before being destroyed by invaders in 1193. However, the idea of Nalanda as an international centre of learning is being restored by a group of statesmen and scholars headed by the Nobel prize-winning economist, Amartya Sen.

But building a top university from scratch and in a poor under-developed area is an uphill battle. From the words of Amartya Sen, it is clear that the task of bringing up Nalanda Universty as a new world-class residential university may not take a time period of 200 years as the old one but it will take some decades.

Likewise, there are many such old universities in India. Some of them still stand in honor and serve as prestigious educational institutes. Here is the list of 10 oldest universities of India which are still functional.


Established Year


Senate of Serampore College (University)



Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee



University of Calcutta



University of Mumbai



University of Madras



Aligarh Muslim University



Panjab University



University of Allahabad



Banaras Hindu University



University of Mysore



  1. Senate of Serampore College (University)

  • The oldest educational institute in India that is still functional is the Serampore College which was established in 1818 at Howrah, West Bengal.

  • It was founded by the missionaries Joshua Marshman, William Carey and William Ward (the Serampore trio), to educate students in Arts and Sciences regardless of the student's caste, colour or country.

  • Serampore is the first institution to get the status of a university in India which was granted by King Frederick VI of Denmark.

  1. Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee

  • Formerly, University of Roorkee and Thomason College of Civil Engineering is a public engineering university located in Roorkee, Uttarakhand. It also holds the title as the oldest technical institution in Asia.

  • It was officially established in 1847 by the then lieutenant governor, Sir James Thomason.

  • In 1854, it was renamed as the Thomason College of Civil Engineering in honor of its founder.

  • It was given university status in 1949. It was converted into an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in 2001, thus becoming the seventh IIT to be declared.

  • Some of the notable alumni are Anirudh Agarwal, Nilmani Mitra, S.V. Setty, Naveen Jain, Henry Benedict Medlicott and so on.

  1. University of Calcutta

  • The University of Calcutta was founded on January 24, 1857, and it is the first institution in Asia to be established as a multidisciplinary and secular Western-style university.

  • Initially, the university adopted the pattern of the University of London and slowly introduced alterations in its structure. It has produced great scholars who have done wonderful work in their respective fields of work.

  • There are many notable alumni who have been an example in the society, some of them are C.V Raman, Rabindranath Tagore, and Amartya Sen.

  1. University of Mumbai

  • The University of Mumbai is one of the oldest and premier Universities in India which was established in 1857, accordance with Wood's despatch drafted by Sir Charles Wood.

  • The name of the University has been changed from "University of Bombay" to "University of Mumbai" with respect to the sequel of change in the name of the city.

  • Its first campus was set up at South Mumbai which is also known as the Fort Campus.

  • The University was awarded 5-star status in 2001 & 'A' grade status in 2012 by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

  • According to the QS World University Rankings of 2018, it is ranked between 801 to 1000 internationally and 181 in Asia.

  • Some of the notable alumni are B. R. Ambedkar, Lokmanya Tilak, Mukesh Ambani, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, Sunil Gavaskar and so on.

  1. University of Madras

  • The University of Madras is a public state university established in 1857 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It was consolidated by an act of the Legislative Council of India.

  • It has six campuses in the city which include Chepauk, Marina, Guindy, Taramani, Maduravoyal, and Chetpet.

  • It has been awarded five-star accreditation by The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). It has also been given the status of University with Potential for Excellence by the University Grants Commission.

  • It has produced several personalities who have influenced society in a great manner. It includes Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Srinivasa Ramanujan and so on.

  1. Aligarh Muslim University

  • The Aligarh Muslim University is an Indian public central university which was set up by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1875.

  • The main campus of the university located in Aligarh is the biggest campus in India with over 467 hectares.

  • In addition, it has its three off-campus centers at Malappuram in Kerala, Murshidabad in West Bengal and Kishanganj in Bihar.

  • According to Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2018, it was ranked between 601 to 800 in the world and 158 in Asia.

  • Some of the notable alumni are Javed Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah, Syed Zainul Abedin, Muhammad Mansur Ali, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, P. K. Abdu Rabb and so on.

  1. Panjab University

  • Panjab University is a public collegiate university which originated in 1882 and was established in 1947. It is located in Chandigarh and has 188 affiliated colleges across eight districts of Punjab state and union territory of Chandigarh.

  • In 2018, the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has ranked Panjab University at 3 in India.

  • The notable alumni of the university include Kalpana Chawla, Vikram Batra, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Manmohan Singh and so on.

  1. University of Allahabad

  • Allahabad University is a public central university established on 23 September 1887 in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.

  • The foundation stone was laid by Governor-General of India, Lord Northbrook on 9 December 1873. It was however functioning under the University of Calcutta.

  • Initially, it was called Muir Central College named after the founder Sir William Muir, Lt. Governor of United Province.

  • At a certain point, it was called the "Oxford of the East".

  • The alumni of the university include famous personalities like Bharat Ratna award winners, Padma Vibhushan winners, Writers, Politicians and so on. Some of them are Madan Mohan Malviya, Govind Ballabh Pant, Mahadevi Verma, Doodhnath Singh, Chandra Shekhar, V. P. Singh, Surya Bahadur Thapa, and so on.

  1. Banaras Hindu University

  • Banaras Hindu University is a public central university established in 1916 by Madan Mohan Malaviya in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

  • It holds the title of the largest residential university in Asia by accommodating over 30,000 students residing in the campus.

  • The main campus of the university is spread over 1,300 acres, built on land granted by the Kashi Naresh, the hereditary ruler of Banaras.

  • Some of the administrators and notable alumni include Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Moti Lal Dhar, Raj Narain, Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, C.N.R Rao and so on.

  1. University of Mysore

  • The University of Mysore is a public state university located in Mysore, Karnataka founded by Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, by then the Maharaja of Mysore, with two of his educational experts namely, C. R. Reddy and Thomas Denham.

  • It was opened on 27 July 1916 with its first chancellor the Maharaja of Mysore and the first Vice-Chancellor was H. V. Nanjundaiah.

  • It became the first outside the British administration university in India and the first university in Karnataka.

  • Some of the notable alumni are Kuvempu, Raghu Dixit, S. M. Krishna, Siddaramaiah and so on.

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