Fergusson College

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Fergusson University
Deccan Education Society logo badge.jpg
Former name
Fergusson College
MottoKnowledge is Power
TypePublic – Private
Established1885; 138 years ago (1885)
PrincipalDr. Ravindrasinh G. Pardeshi[1]
Vice principalsDr. N. M. Kulkarni
Prof. P. M. Pawar
Swati Joaglekar[1]
Fergusson College Road, Shivajinagar
, , ,
Coordinates: 18°31′26″N 73°50′21″E / 18.523969°N 73.839219°E / 18.523969; 73.839219
CampusUrban, 65 acres (260,000 m2)

Fergusson College[2] is an autonomous public-private college offering various courses in the streams of arts and science in the city of Pune, India.[3][4][5] It was founded in 1885 by the Vaman Shriram Apte, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Vishnushashtri Chiplunkar, Mahadeo Ballal Namjoshi and Gopal Krishna Agarkar.[6] Professor Vaman Shivram Apte was its first principal.[7] Social reformer, journalist, thinker and educationist Gopal Ganesh Agarkar served as the second principal from August 1892, till his death in June 1895.[8]

The college is named after Scottish-born Sir James Fergusson, the Governor of Bombay, the college has been under the jurisdiction of the University of Pune. In May 2018, Fergusson college was upgraded to a unitary university following an update from Ministry of HRD.[2]

The college has two sections:

  • The Junior Wing (junior college) is for students graduating from school. Courses are offered in Arts and Science streams, at the end of which students may appear for the Higher-Secondary State Certificate examination.
  • The Senior Wing offers bachelor's degrees in 29 disciplines and master's degrees in 16 disciplines.

Fergusson College is known for its close association with Indian politics. Its founders were pioneers of the Indian National Congress,[9] as well as, Indian Socialist Movement.[10] The college has produced, several ministers and legislators, including two Indian Prime Ministers.[11][12][13]

Fergusson was among the 19 colleges to get a heritage tag by the central government and UGC in 2015. So, the college receives financial help from UGC for the conservation of campus and buildings.[14]



After the suppression of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, reformers in India felt a pressing need to modernise the educational system in order to advance the cause of reform. Prominent Indian nationalists, such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, and Gopal Ganesh Agarkar led efforts to found a school designed for the general advancement of the Indian public; leading to the creation of the New English School. Inspired by the school's success, the Deccan Education Society was formed in 1884; a year later Fergusson College was established. An area of 37 acres (150,000 m2) of land was donated for one rupee on a 99-year lease by Shirole, the erstwhile Patil of the village of Bhamburde on the west bank of the Mutha River.[15]

The college was inaugurated by William Wordsworth, the grandson of the British poet and principal of Elphinstone College in Bombay. Other leaders such as R G Bhandarkar and M G Ranade played a part in the construction.[16] The college was named after the then Governor of Bombay, Sir James Fergusson. The British colonial government in Bombay allowed the college to remain autonomous, giving it a free hand in education.

In 1935, the college completed 50 years of existence. Sir CV Raman, India's only Science Nobel laureate at that time, was the president of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. He said in his speech,[citation needed]

… Standing here today, I feel that history has been written in Poona- history of self-help, history of self-reliance, history of great and constructive national effort- that history has been written in Poona, has been written on this very spot …

Mahatma Gandhi, in a message to then Principal Dr. Mahajani wrote,

Who will fail to be enthused over the noble record of the service rendered by the D. E. Society and the Fergusson College to the cause of education?[17]

Lokmanya Tilak was one of the founders of the college


Post-1947, Fergusson College has produced leaders in the fields of politics, academia, literature and art. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India's first president, was the chief guest of the platinum jubilee function. He said on the occasion,

The Fergusson College was established at a time when the attitude of the Indian masses towards higher education of the western type was yet in a formative stage and when facilities for such education for the generality of Indian students were inadequate… It was an enterprise, which benefited the Nation without offending or alienating the then rulers of India. Fergusson College is the foremost fruit of that effort.[18]

In 1985, the college completed its centenary. Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister was the president of the ceremony. PV Narasimharao, India's 12th prime minister and former student, said,

This college, born like a twin of the Indian National Congress, has always kept abreast of the country's history. It has produced political leaders of all hues of the political spectrum including ultras and infras, if I may say so, administrators, eminent scholars, researchers, writers, sportsmen and many other categories of celebrities, which any country can be proud of.[19]

A two-part history of the college was written by Dr. VM Bachal, former principal. The book, Vatchal Sawashe Varshanchi (A Journey of 125 Years) was published in January 2010.[20]

In 2018, Fergusson was given University status by the Ministry of Human resource development.[citation needed]

Association with Indian politics[edit]

Fergusson College has been given many epithets by political leaders, including 'cradle of Indian polity' and 'twin of the Congress'.[19]

The Main Building

The founders of Fergusson College, most notably Tilak and Gokhale, were leaders of the Indian National Congress in its early stages from 1885 to 1920. In fact, most historians divide the history of the INC into two eras — the Tilak Era and the Gandhi era.[21] The college has produced as alumni, notable Congress leaders including Vishwanath Pratap Singh and PV Narasimha Rao, Jivatram Kripalani and Babubhai J Patel. (See comprehensive list below.)

Among the founders, Agarkar and Namjoshi were early Socialists of Maharashtra.[22] Alumni such as Vitthal Ramji Shinde, S.M. Joshi, and Nanasaheb Gore were eminent socialists, inside and outside the Congress fold. The Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, founded to fight for Maharashtra's statehood, included several alumni such as Prahlad Keshav Atre, SM Joshi and Gore. V.D Savarkar, in 1902, enrolled in Fergusson College. As a young man, he was inspired by the new generation of radical political leaders — Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai — along with the political struggle against the partition of Bengal and the rising Swadeshi campaign. After completing his degree, nationalist activist Shyamji Krishna Varma helped Vinayak to go to England to study law, on a scholarship.[23]

Fergusson is the only institution in India to have in its alumni two Indian prime ministers.[11][12][13]


From the 37 acres (150,000 m2) leased out by Shirole, the erstwhile Patil of Bhamburde in 1881, the college expanded to 65 acres (260,000 m2) by the time of Independence.[24] The campus extends until the slopes of a hillock, popularly called Fergusson Hill. Several educational institutions are around the hillock. The college is largely built in accordance with the Victorian school of architecture, although it has some Gothic and traditional Indian styles as well.


Department of History
Staff offices

The Main Building is at the inner entrance of the college. Built entirely in Victorian style, the two-storey structure houses the central office and the principals' chambers. The Statistics and Psychology Departments lie to the east of the main building; the Economics Department lie to the west. The computer science and the life science buildings are also to the west.

On the southern side are the RP Paranjpye building, Pittie Chemistry building, Botany, Zoology, Geology, Electronics and Physics departments. The building overlooks the central garden to the north and has two lecture halls and the staffs' chambers. There are 55 laboratories and 51 lecture halls in all.

NM Wadia Amphitheatre[edit]

NM Wadia Amphitheatre

The three-storeyed amphitheatre building, to the west of the central garden, has Victorian-Gothic influences. Apart from several lecture halls, the building houses an auditorium with a capacity of 1,000 people. In 2012, this amphitheatre celebrated its 100 years.[25]

Bai Jerbai Wadia Library[edit]

Bai Jerbai Wadia Library was built in 1929 by industrialists Sir Cusrow Wadia and Sir Ness Wadia in memory of their mother. The Main Library on the ground floor has more than 300,000 books and research journals.[26] Research scholars and book-lovers have donated their collections.

The first floor (the floor above the ground floor) of the library serves as a Reading Hall for students and accommodates 400 students. The floors above this floor are not publicly accessible without prior arrangement and house books, manuscripts, and articles of historic and cultural importance. The library has a collection of statues and posters, dedicated to national leaders and educationalists. The building was extended in 1955, with government grants and then in 1982 with grants from the Central government.


Kimaya is an open-air theatre on the north side of the campus. It was conceived by litterateur and alumni PL Deshpande on his return from a visit to Japan.[citation needed] It encompasses elements of modern architecture and is built without beams. It has eight walls fused together, which function as trusses.

Botanical Gardens[edit]

The 2-acre (8,100 m2) Botanical Gardens on the campus were founded in 1902 by a teacher, Professor Shevade. Botany students from the college planted specimens here, including Elaeocarpus, Araucaria and Mahogany. In 1961, the garden was destroyed when the nearby Panshet dam was breached. Years later, it was reinstated by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the Association of Herbal Drugs, and Deccan Education Society. Some plants found there are Saraca Indica (Sita Ashok), the bark of which is used to heal skin diseases and as a tonic; and Terminalia arjuna, the extract of which is used to treat jaundice.[27]

Gymkhana and grounds[edit]

Cricket, hockey and football are played on the main ground which has a drainage system, enabling play during monsoons. Two asphalted basketball courts are next to the main ground. A second ground, to the south, has courts for volleyball and handball as well as facilities for Indian sports like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho and Mallakhamb. Services for badminton and other indoor games are available, and the Gymnasium Building provides training for boxing, wrestling, judo, weight lifting and yoga. The college has tennis courts on the eastern side of the campus.

New academic complex[edit]

The new academic complex was built in 2004 at the northern end of the campus. Unlike the other buildings, it is designed in a modern functionalist style. It houses the Junior College and the DES Law College.


Residence hall

For students, there are six hostel blocks, four blocks for boys and two for girls. The total intake capacity of the hostels is 587 students. The gents hostel blocks are to the north of the campus and the ladies hostel blocks lie to the east.

The college has some quarters for the faculty and staff and also for employees of other DES Institutes.[citation needed]

The principal resides in an independent bungalow at the main entrance of the college. Some members of the teaching staff have been provided with residential facilities on the campus. This facility includes independent bungalows. There are some flats constructed with financial aid from the UGC.


In 2014 Fergusson College started special courses for upgrading skills of the national youth. The following courses have begun in the same year:

  1. Bachelor of Vocation in Media and Communication
  2. Bachelor of Vocation in Digital Art and Animation

The courses offer hands on skill experience with overall personality development of the student. The course consists of Photography, Voice Over, Script Writing, Media Research, Advertising, Video Editing, Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, Short Film making, and Media Research. In 2019 and 2020 Media and Communication Department organised Fergusson International Short Film Festival. It was one of the biggest short film festival organised by any college department in India.[28]


In 2020, Fergusson College was ranked 42nd among colleges in India by National Institutional Ranking Framework.[29] It has also received National Heritage status and College of Excellence award by University Grants Commission (India).[citation needed]

University rankings
General – India
NIRF (Colleges) (2020)[29]42

Fergusson College has ranked in the top ten arts and science colleges in India for the past 16 years[when?] in the annual survey conducted by India Today-AC Nielsen-ORG-MARG and published in India Today magazine.[30][31] In the state of Maharashtra, it is consistently ranked first in science and arts, followed by St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.[32]

Year Nationwide rank: Arts Nationwide rank: Science
2012 12 8
2011 9 5
2010 7 6
2009 10 7
2008 7 7
2007 6 9
2006 8 6
2005 5 6


Senior wing of Fergusson University has 14 arts and 16 science departments.[33]


Departments: Marathi, Hindi, Economics, English, French, Geography, German, Gymkhana, History, Philosophy, Political science, Psychology, Sanskrit, and Sociology.


Departments: Animation, Biotechnology, Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Digital Art and Animation, Electronics Science, Environmental science, Geology, Mathematics, Media and Communication, Microbiology, Photography, Physics, Statistics, and Zoology.

Associated institutes[edit]

The college shares its campus with the Institute of Management Development and Research, Pune (IMDR) and Jaganath Rathi Vocational Guidance and Training Institute (JRVGTI), both governed by the Deccan Education Society. Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), established in 1943, is closely associated with Fergusson College. At the northern end of the campus, next to the New Academic Building, lies DES Law College.

Student life[edit]

National Cadet Corps[edit]

National Cadet Corps training began in Fergusson College in 1921 with the University Training Corps unit which had two platoons. In 1926, the UTC strength of increased to three platoons. In June 1930, one platoon of the College of Engineering was transferred to the Fergusson College and since then Fergusson College enjoyed the privilege of contributing full company — α coy — and was reputed as the Best Drilling Company.[34]

There are two units of NCC in Fergusson College — Army and Navy wings. In the Army wing, cadets are trained by the representative of the Indian Armed Forces at the junior and senior level. They are seen as future officers or army personnel or as possible reserves in the case of national emergency. In the Naval wing, cadets are trained as per the naval rules and discipline at the senior as well as on junior level. They are considered as reserves, second in line of defence in case of national emergency. Apart from these, the open units in the college are Girls Wing, Air Wing, Signal Wing, Armed Squadron and Medical Wing.[35]

National Service Scheme[edit]

National Service Scheme (NSS) is a community service program sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India. The motto of the NSS is ‘Not Me But You’, and its objective is developing the personality of the student through community service.

The NSS Unit of Fergusson College was started in 1975 with about 50 students. Presently the NSS Unit consists of about 200 students from senior college and 100 students from junior college. The activities of the NSS are to help the students understand community, their relation with community, National Integration, and Social problems.[36]


The photography department, with contributions from current and former students, brings out an e-magazine, Fergzine.[37]


Astro Club[edit]

The Astro Club is an activity started in 1997. Apart from weekly lectures, problem solving sessions and documentary screening, students also organise Physics/Astronomy exhibitions, seminars, workshops, sky observations, Space Week and Asteroid hunt program. "Frontiers in Physics" is a unique annual seminar organised by the students exclusively for the students with speakers from national and international institutions. Students also publish "Dimensions" a special science bulletin each term.

Notable alumni[edit]


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  2. ^ a b "Fergusson is now a university, Xavier's & Mithibai on wait list". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Pune's Fergusson College gets academic autonomy". The Times of India.
  4. ^ "Fergussonians give a thumbs up to autonomy". The Times of India.
  5. ^ "Fergusson becomes 3rd autonomous college in Pune". Indian Express.
  6. ^ "History of Foundation". Archived from the original on 12 July 2015.
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  8. ^ "Gopal Ganesh Agarkar". Archived from the original on 8 April 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  9. ^ Founders BG Tilak, GK Gokhale were early leaders of the INC
  10. ^ Founders GG Agarkar and MB Namjoshi were early socialists in Maharashtra.
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  12. ^ a b See P. V. Narasimha Rao
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  17. ^ "Gandhi". Archived from the original on 12 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Prasad". Archived from the original on 12 July 2015.
  19. ^ a b "Narasimha". Archived from the original on 12 July 2015.
  20. ^ "Magnum opus author". Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  21. ^ Tilak Era
  22. ^ Socialists
  23. ^ Samyukta Mah.
  24. ^ "Shitole lease". Archived from the original on 12 July 2015.
  25. ^ DNA India. "Wadia Amphitheatre turns 100, takes its place of pride".
  26. ^ "Library". Archived from the original on 7 September 2008.
  27. ^ "The rejuvenation of the Fergusson Gardens - Pune Times - City - NEWS - The Times of India". 2 August 2009. Archived from the original on 2 August 2009.
  28. ^ "Fergusson Short Film Festival". FilmFreeway.
  29. ^ a b "National Institutional Ranking Framework 2020 (Colleges)". National Institutional Ranking Framework. Ministry of Education. 11 June 2020.
  30. ^ "India Today". specials.indiatoday.com.
  31. ^ "India Today". specials.indiatoday.com.
  32. ^ "DIRECTORY OF BEST COLLEGES 2012: RANKS.JSP | IndiaToday". www.indiatoday.in.
  33. ^ "Fergusson College, Pune". www.fergusson.edu.
  34. ^ "Fergusson College, Pune". www.fergusson.edu.
  35. ^ "NCC". Archived from the original on 20 September 2008.
  36. ^ "NSS". Archived from the original on 7 March 2009.
  37. ^ "Fergzine: The e magazine of the college". Archived from the original on 15 April 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2010.

External links[edit]