History of the University of Dhaka

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The University of Dhaka was established in 1921 as the first university in East Bengal. Following demands from Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah Bahadur and others, Viceroy Lord Hardinge proposed on 2 February 1912, that a new university should be established in this partition of Bengal.

Curzon Hall, where the science faculty of University of Dhaka was established in 1921.


The University was established as compensation for the annulment of the 1905 Partition of Bengal. The partition had established East Bengal and Assam as a separate province, with Dhaka as its capital. However, the partition was abolished in 1911. In 1913, public opinion was solicited before the university scheme was given its final shape, and the Secretary of State approved it in December 1913.[1] The first vice-chancellor of the university was Philip Joseph Hartog, who had been academic registrar of the University of London for 17 years.[2]

Foundation and early days[edit]

Established in 1921, under the Dacca University Act 1920 of the Indian Legislative Council, the university is modelled after British universities. Academic activities started on July 1, 1921, with three faculties: Arts, Science, and Law. Classes were taught in 12 Departments: Sanskrit and Bengali, English, Education, History, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Persian and Urdu, Philosophy, Economics and Politics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Law. Initially there were three dormitories for students: Salimullah Muslim Hall, Dacca Hall and Jagannath Hall.[3]

Tomb of Kazi Nazrul Islam near the Dhaka University campus mosque

Establishment and the British era[edit]

Dhaka University Central Students Union building
Sir Syed Nawab Ali Chowdhury, one of the proposers of University of Dhaka

The university continued to grow under the direction of leaders including Harry Langley, A. F. Rahman, R. C. Majumdar, and Mahmud Hussain.[citation needed] Under Vice-Chancellor Hussain, the University consolidated its fundamental focus on academics. It also made national headlines when he extended an invitation to then-President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, who declined citing 'security reasons'. This was the first of many subsequent refusals from high-ranking officials to visit East Pakistan.

Students from 1921 to 1948[edit]

There were few students in the early years of the University of Dhaka. Enrollment in the first few years is shown in the table below:[4]

Session Number of Muslim students Number of total students
1929–30 427 1300 (Except the training college and Medical Schools)
1930–31 399 1300
1930–34 1027
1934–35 933 (Including 39 female students)
1937–38 595 1527
1939–40 673 1527
1940–41 600 1633
1945–46 1000 (Including 90 female students)
1946–47 1092 (Including 100 female students)
1947–48 1693 (Including 72 female students)

Visit of Rabindranath Tagore to Dhaka University[edit]

Rabindranath Tagore in Jagannath Hall
A poem written by Rabindranath Tagore for a magazine of Jagannath Hall

In 1926, the University of Dhaka invited Rabindranath Tagore to attend a conference called The Meaning of Art. He came to Dhaka and visited Curzon Hall on 10 February, 1926. Tagore is often accused of opposing the establishment of the university at Dhaka even though no evidence of such opposition has ever been found. He was awarded D.Litt by Dhaka University in 1936.

University of Dhaka in the Liberation war (1970s)[edit]

Teachers who were killed in 1971[edit]

Students and teachers of the University of Dhaka played a vital role in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. The Ordinance of 1961 was annulled and substituted by the Dacca University Order of 1973., The new Order restored autonomy, and provided a democratic atmosphere for the teachers and students where they could engage freely in academic and intellectual pursuits.

Teachers at the University of Dhaka who were killed during the liberation war include:[1]

Name of Teacher Institution
Dr. Mohammad Mortuza Chief medical officer of the university
Giasuddin Ahmed University of Dhaka
Dr. ANM Muniruzzaman University of Dhaka
Dr. Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurta University of Dhaka
AN Munir Chowdhury University of Dhaka
Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury University of Dhaka
Dr. Abul Khair University of Dhaka
Dr. Serajul Hoque Khan University of Dhaka
Rashidul Hasan University of Dhaka
Anwar Pasha University of Dhaka
Dr. GC Dev University of Dhaka
Dr. Fazlur Rahman University of Dhaka
Dr. Faizul Mohi University of Dhaka
Abdul Muktadir University of Dhaka
Sarafat Ali University of Dhaka
Sadat Ali University of Dhaka
AR Khan Khadim University of Dhaka
Santosh C Bhattacharya University of Dhaka
Mohammad Sadeq University Laboratory School
Anudippayan Bhattachariya University of Dhaka


  1. ^ a b Sajahan Miah (2012). "University of Dhaka". In Sirajul Islam and Ahmed A. Jamal. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ "Sir Philip Hartog, a Great Educationist". London: The Times. 28 June 1947. p. 6. [Hartog] was appointed Academic Registrar to the University of London, and held that office with great efficiency for 17 years ... Hartog was made [Dhaka University's] first vice-chancellor. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Dhaka University & the History of East Bengal: An interview of Professor Abdur Razzaq, written by-Sardar Fazlul Karim সরদার ফজলুল করিম রচিত ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় ও পুর্ব বঙ্গীয় সমাজ: অধ্যাপক আবদুর রাজ্জাকের আলাপচারিতা

External links[edit]