University of Dhaka

University of Dhaka
ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়
Dhaka University logo.svg
Logo of the University of Dhaka
শিক্ষাই আলো
Motto in English
Education is light
TypePublic university
Established1921 (1921)
ChancellorAbdul Hamid
Vice-ChancellorMd Akhtaruzzaman
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Other students
University of Dhaka logo.png

The University of Dhaka (Bengali: ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় [ɖʰaka biʃʃobiddalɔe̯], also known as Dhaka University or simply DU) is the oldest university in Bangladesh. The university is ranked number one on the Bangladesh University Ranking 2017.[4] Established in 1921 during the British Raj, it has made significant contributions to the modern history of Bangladesh.[5][6][7][8] After the Partition of India, it became the focal point of progressive and democratic movements in Pakistan. Its students and teachers played a central role in the rise of Bengali nationalism and the independence of Bangladesh.

The university's distinguished alumni include current Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, Fazlur Rahman Khan (pioneer of modern structural engineering), Muhammad Yunus (winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, pioneer of Microcredit), Muhammad Shahidullah (famous educator, philologist, and linguist), Natyaguru Nurul Momen (the pioneer trailblazer of progressive culture, theatre, literature, performing arts, philosophy and arts; who was both an early student & a teacher as well, of Dhaka University), Serajul Islam Choudhury (the country's leading public intellectual and writer), Rehman Sobhan (social democratic economist), Mohammad Ataul Karim (physicist), Abul Fateh (one of the founding fathers of South Asian diplomacy), Buddhadeb Bose (20th-century Bengali poet), and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (the founding father of Bangladesh). It also enjoyed associations with Satyendra Nath Bose, Vijayaraghavan, and Kazi Nazrul Islam.[9]

Today, it is the largest public research university in Bangladesh, with a student body of 33,000 and a faculty of 1,800. It was identified by AsiaWeek as one of the top 100 universities in Asia.[10] However, since the 1990s, the university has suffered from intensely politicized, partisan, and violent campus politics promoted by Bangladesh's political parties.[11]


Earliest Bachelor of Arts certificate from the University, 1928
1904 image of Dhaka College, which was in existence from 1841 to 1921 before the founding of Dhaka University

Before Dhaka University was established, near its grounds were the former buildings of Dhaka College. In 1873 the college was relocated to Bahadur Shah Park. Later it shifted to Curzon Hall, which would become the first institute of the university.[12]

The establishment of the university was a compensation of the annulment of the 1905 Partition of Bengal. The partition had established Muslim majority Eastern Bengal and Assam as a separate province, with Dhaka as its capital. All India Muslim League, newly formed in Dhaka, wholeheartedly supported the move. However, the partition was abolished in 1911 due to severe opposition from Indian National Congress and Bengali Hindus. Deeply hurt by the decision of annulment of Bengal partition, a Muslim delegation led by Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah Bahadur, the then Nawab of Dhaka demanded a University be setup in Dhaka. To appease the majority Muslim masses of East Bengal, Lord Curzon agreed and declared that a university as a center of excellence would be established in Dhaka. Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah, the Nawab of Dhaka, who played a pioneering role in establishing the university in Dhaka donated 600 acres of land from his estate for this purpose.[13]

In 1913, public opinion was invited before the university scheme was given its final shape. The secretary of state approved it in December 1913.[12] The first vice-chancellor of the university, Dr. Philip Joseph Hartog, formerly academic registrar of the University of London for 17 years was appointed.[14]

Established in 1921 under the Dacca University Act 1920 of the Indian Legislative Council, it is modelled after British universities.[citation needed] Lord Ronaldshay, Governor of Bengal between 1917 and 1922, was its first chancellor. He designated Nawaab Syed Shamsul Huda a life member of the university. On Huda's recommendation, Lord Ronaldshay appointed Ahmad Fazlur Rahman as a provost.[15] Academic activities started on 1 July in 1921 with 847 students[16] along with 3 faculties: Arts, Science and Law; 12 departments: Sanskrit and Bengali, English, Education, History, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Persian and Urdu, Philosophy, Economics and Politics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Law; and 3 dormitories for students: Salimullah Muslim Hall, Dacca Hall and Jagannath Hall.[17]

In 1936, the university awarded honorary doctorate degrees to Jagadish Chandra Bose, Jadunath Sarkar, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Allama Iqbal and Rabindranath Tagore.[18]

The university played a significant role in the Bengali Language Movement, when Bengalis joined together to fight against Urdu being the official language in East Pakistan. Dhaka University was the main place where the movement started with the students joining together and protesting against the Pakistan government. Later countless students were massacred in where the Shaheed Minar stands today. After the incident, Bengali was restored as official language.[19]

The Dhaka University Order, 1973

President's Order No. 11 of 1973 re-constitute and re-organize the University of Dhaka to improve the teaching and research provided thereby and the administration after 1971 Independence war. Throughout this order the word Dhaka was substituted for the word Dacca by section 2 of the University Laws (Amendment) Act, 1987 (Act No. XXXVI of 1987).

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