University College, Thiruvananthapuram

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A brief history


July 13, 2019: The Times of India


The University College was founded by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal in 1834 as a free school to impart English education to the common man in the erstwhile Travancore. He invited John Roberts – who oversaw a school at Nagercoil that was imparting instruction in English under the auspices of the London Missionary Society – to come to Thiruvananthapuram and start a similar school. *Roberts was appointed headmaster and it came to be known as the Raja’s Free School. In the following year, the institution moved to a new building constructed where University College is now located. The school continued as a free institution till 1863-64.

In 1866, during the reign of Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma, it grew into a college with John Ross, a scholar of great repute as the headmaster. It was affiliated to the University of Madras.

The 153-year-old institution has a rich heritage and illustrious alumni like Raja Ravi Varma, writer C V Raman Pillai, former President K R Narayanan, poet ONV Kurup, agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan, cartoonist Abu Abraham, writer and bureaucrat Malayattoor Ramakrishnan, actor Madhu, first woman judge in India Anna Chandy, besides numerous civil servants, politicians and artists.

The institution offers 18 UG, 20 PG, 13 MPhil and 16 PhD programmes. The college has 16 research departments, 66 research guides and 299 research scholars. The staff strength is 218, while student strength is over 3,000

It was cited as ‘College with Potential for Excellence" (CPE) by UGC

University College got 23rd Rank in the India Ranking 2019 (Colleges) with a score of 59.37.

The College was re-accredited with grade ‘A’ with a CGPA of 3.02 (III Cycle) by UGC’s National Assessment and Accreditation Council


On May 3, 2019, a first-year BSc Chemistry student allegedly attempted suicide by slitting her wrist in the college waiting room. The suicide note said that it was the mental stress caused by pressure from SFI workers of the college that pushed her to attempt suicide. The suo motu case registered by Cantonment police ended with the girl deciding not to complain against SFI members who were mentioned in the suicide note.

On December 12, 2018, Nazeem, the same person accused in Friday’s incident, attacked two cops at Palayam junction along with a few other SFI activists, for preventing him from taking a U-turn at the junction, violating the restriction. He evaded arrest for more than three weeks by hiding inside the college campus while the police claimed that he was on the run. He surrendered only after media cameras caught him sitting among the audience in a function attended by minister A K Balan.

On February 9, 2017, two woman students of the college were harassed by the SFI activists in an act of moral policing after the former invited a male friend to the campus to see cultural events being staged inside the campus as part of the college's 150th-anniversary celebrations. The SFI activists took offence at the sight of the man sitting next to the two young women and harassed him. They also heckled and harassed the two women which prompted them to file sexual harassment complaints before the police.

On October 18, 2016, Ajmal, a third-year student of the college was attacked by a group SFI activists refusing to associate with the organisation. Ajmal was a national-level cyclist and he was attacked five days before the Inter-University Cycling Championship to be held in Hyderabad. Ajmal could not compete in the event due to the injuries suffered in the attack.

In November 2014, M S Sanoj, who had submitted a nomination to contest election in the campus as an independent candidate was made to withdraw the nomination under threat. He filed a complaint to the principal.

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