(Last Updated on : 12/09/2009)
A university can be identified as an institution of higher education and research that is designed to grant academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organization that provides both undergraduate and postgraduate education. Historically it can be said that the word `university` is derived from the Latin `universitas magistrorum et scholarium`, meaning "community of teachers and scholars." In this respect, Indian universities play a vital role to create enlightened individuals for the society. Moreover, Indian universities and institutions for higher education contribute to the growth of economy.
The oldest known universities in India were especially centres of learning in ancient times. Moreover, most of the universities were Buddhist monasteries. Nalanda was established in 450- 1193 CE, Odantapuri, in Bihar originated in 550 - 1040 CE and Somapura, served as one of the famous universities of the country from the Gupta period to the Muslim conquest. In ancient days universities of the Indian subcontinent were centres of higher learning where students from all over the world came and gained knowledge on religion, politics and economics.
Medieval Universities in India were those institutions of higher learning that were established with an aim of introducing subjects such as arts, law, medicine, and theology. These universities evolved from much older schools and monasteries and continued to serve the society till modern times. However, with the coming of the British and various social reforms, India started to establish universities with an assortment of facilities. During that time many universities for women also originated in the country.
India has developed steadily in the field of education since independence. The country possesses both public and private universities and a large number of them are supported by the Government of India and the state governments. Apart from these, there are several other Indian universities run by various private bodies and societies. Universities in India are classified into various categories such as Central Universities, State Universities, Deemed Universities, Private Universities, Agricultural universities, National Institutes of Importance and Open Universities.
Today, universities in India are supported by the University Grants Commission. This is a body of the central government that provides support to the government-recognized universities and colleges with funds. The University Grants Commission of India or UGC provides recognition to the universities in India. The UGC also conducts NET or National Eligibility Test for the recruitment of teachers in colleges and universities nationwide. Indian higher education system was revamped and various professional course curriculums were introduced. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is a body involved in the systematic planning and organized development of the technical education system in the country. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is another body that offers recognition to universities. The NAAC is an autonomous body which is funded by the University Grants Commission of Government of India.