Finally, after months of waiting for it to happen, St Xavier’s College was upgraded to a University by The St Xavier’s University, Kolkata Bill, 2016 which was passed in the Assembly on Thursday.
The Bill has written a new chapter in the history of education in Bengal. The initiative to upgrade St Xavier’s College to a university was taken by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who during her visit to the college last year had requested the Jesuit Fathers to consider the proposal. St. Xavier’s College was first to get autonomy in Bengal. Presidency College had earlier been upgraded to a university.
Both Presidency and St Xavier’s have played a major role in spreading education in Bengal and both have alumni associations in all the major countries of the World.
Tabling the Bill, state Education minister Partha Chatterjee said that the main purpose of the bill was to enable St. Xavier’s to function efficiently as a university while encouraging and providing for instruction and research in various branches of learning and courses of study, promoting advancement and dissemination of knowledge and learning and extending higher education to meet the growing needs of the society.
It will be a unitary university now having the power to provide affiliation to any college. The Vice-Chancellor of the university will be a Jesuit Father. The university can also open modern technology and professional courses. It will be a centre of academic excellence in the field of higher education and research. It will become a bridge between the rural- urban divide, extending the benefit of education to the poor and the marginalised, aiming at their empowerment. It has been decided that 5 per cent of the seats will be reserved for the students coming from economically challenged backgrounds.
The university is free to accept funds from industry, institutions, national and international organisations and financial institutions including nationalised banks. It will encourage interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary courses in selected subjects. The President of the sponsoring trust will be the chancellor of the university. He will hold his office for a period of six years. He will also be the chairperson of the governing board.
Chatterjee said achieving excellence in education is the main stress of Trinamool Congress-led state government and various projects have been taken to give scholarships to students to pursue higher education. He said the state government was trying to bring back state’s lost glory in the field of education and learning.
St Xavier’s College was set up in 1860. It had celebrated teachers like Father Goureax, a student of Albert Einstein and Father Becker. The college also has a library with various books on different subjects.