University of Kerala

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University of Kerala (UoK)
കേരള സർവ്വകലാശാല
Logo of University of Kerala.png
Former name
University of Travancore
Motto कर्मणि व्यज्यते प्रज्ञा (Sanskrit)
Motto in English
Karmani Vyajyate Pradnya (Knowledge/intellect is revealed through action)
Established 1937
Type Public
Chancellor Governor Of Kerala
Vice-Chancellor Dr. P.K Radhakrishnan
Students 100,000+
Location Trivandrum, Kerala, India
8°30′06″N 76°56′22″E / 8.5018°N 76.9394°E / 8.5018; 76.9394Coordinates: 8°30′06″N 76°56′22″E / 8.5018°N 76.9394°E / 8.5018; 76.9394
Campus Urban
Nickname Kerala University, UoK
Affiliations UGC

The University of Kerala (UoK), formerly the University of Travancore,[1] is an affiliating university[2] located in Trivandrum in the south indian state of Kerala, India. It was established in 1937, long before the birth of the state of Kerala in India, by a promulgation of the Maharajah of Travancore, Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma who was also the first Chancellor of the university. Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, the then Diwan(Prime Minister) of Travancore, was the first Vice-Chancellor. It was the sixteenth university to be set up in India, and ten colleges within the state of Travancore which were affiliated to Madras University became the affiliated colleges of the University of Travancore.


Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma - The Founder Chancellor

The Motto of Kerala University is "Karmaṇi Vyajyate Prajña" (Sanskrit: कर्मणि व्यज्यते प्रज्ञा). It is taken from the Panchatantra.[3] The complete stanza follows:

मन्त्रिणां भिन्नसंधाने भिषजां सांनिपातिके ।
कर्मणि व्यज्यते प्रज्ञा स्वस्थे को वा न पण्डितः ॥
-(पञ्चतन्त्रम्, प्रथमम् तन्त्रम् - मित्रभेदः, कथा २ - शृगाल दुंदुभि कथा, पञ्च_१.१३८)
- (Panchatantra, First tantra - The loss of friends, Story - 2, The Jackal and the Drum)

This stanza also appears in the third story-collection called Vigraha of Hitopadeśaṃ (Sanskrit: हितोपदेशम्).[4] Hitopadesham, a collection of Sanskrit fables in prose and verse written in the 12th century CE, is an independent treatment of the Panchatantra.

Early days[edit]

The earliest origins of the University may be traced back to two institutions of modern learning in Kerala, the University College, Thiruvananthapuram and the Trivandrum Observatory. The University College was initially founded as the Maharajah's Free School by Maharajah Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma in 1834, with Mr John Roberts as Headmaster, and soon grew into a college in 1866, affiliated to the Madras University. When the University of Travancore was founded, the Departments of the college became the University Departments, only to switch back again when the transformation to University of Kerala happened in 1957. The University College still retains its connection with the University as an affiliated college.

Kerala University in 1940s

The Trivandrum Observatory[edit]

Another area where Svāti Tirunāḷ‍ took interest was in astronomy. He wished to compare Western findings with Indian knowledge. Finding that there was so much in common between the western astronomy and Indian (eastern) astrological understanding of planets, stars and about the known universe; Swāthi Tirunāḷ‍ set the initiative to start an observatory. The Trivandrum Observatory was directed by a member of the royal family (and a relative of HH Swathi Thirunal) Dr. Raja Rama Varma Rohani Thirunal, Prince of Mavelikara Palace who was an established astronomer. Rohini Thirunal, with illustrated relatives such as musician Irayimman Thampi and painter Raja Ravi Varma; was more interested in the physical sciences and was a member of the British and Canadian Astronomical Societies. He had a great collection of instruments and would teach his family to identify the stars and planets.

The Trivandrum (also as Trevendrum in old English literature) observatory began with help from Britishers, residency Colonel Fraser and self taught expert John Caldecott. A theologist and a cotton mill employee in Bombay, the multi-talented John Caldecott was interested in astronomy that was initially self taught. He later became one of its enthusiastic visionary directors and a got recognition as a fellow of the british astronomical royal society. Caldecott at some point, lived in Allepey/Alapuzha and used to make instruments for astronomical self observations having had mounted viewing instruments on top of the Residency at Quilon, Cochin Bolgaty and his Allepey home. Raja Swathi Tirunal through the British appointed Resident Colonel Fraser had a coincidental meeting with Caldecott, saw his collection and asked him to come to Trivandrum to start a similar set-up. The current observatory site was chosen on top of a laterite mount near the Kanakakunnu hill, which gave the best sky views in that hemisphere being near the equator and near the sea. He was instrumental in buying and bringing the 'world-class' telescopes and tools at the time, to Trivandrum via ship through the Middle east, from England.

Caldecott and Raja Rohani Tirunal were key figures in sending the Royal Astronomical Society in London, significant data from Trivandrum observatory. Based on archival data, contribution from Trivandrum include data on the Great Comet of 1843, the total eclipse of 1843 and information on a decaying comet of 1844-45 that was invisible to Europe. This put Trivandrum observatory on par with the Madras Observatory. Caldecott died of untimely illness and was buried in the Christ church in Trivandrum. Also to note was another astronomer, John Allan Broun a great director. The observatory became a part of the Travancore University, and for some time was administered as an independent government institution. It is now the oldest institution under the renamed 'Kerala University'. Started in 1837, some of the equipment is still to be seen at the Thiruvananthapuram observatory (now under the Department of Physics, University of Kerala).

In 1954, the unified state of Kerala came into being with most of Travancore and the whole of the state of Cochin and Malabar area of Madras presidency becoming part of it. The Kerala University Act (Act 14 of 1957) was brought into force and the University of Travancore was renamed University of Kerala. The university had three campuses located in the state viz. Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. In 1968, the University Centre at Kozhikode became a full-fledged university, the University of Calicut, affiliating the colleges located in Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur districts of Kerala and transforming the Kozhikkode Centre into university departments. The Cochin University of Science and Technology – CUSAT -- (1971), Kerala Agricultural University (1971) and Mahatma Gandhi University (1983) were established, with CUSAT taking over the university’s centre at Cochin. These developments have shrunk the jurisdiction of the University of Kerala to Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha Districts and some parts of Pathanamthitta District. At present, the university has sixteen faculties and forty one departments of teaching and research in addition to study centres and other departments. Teaching, research, and knowledge extension are the mandate of the departments. They primarily focus on post-graduate (masters) programmes, MPhil programmes (1-year research degree) and doctoral research. In 2007, the university awarded over 100 PhDs. The university’s research activities also go on in affiliated colleges and other research centres in and outside the state.[5]

The administrative building in Palayam, Trivandrum


Sir C. P Ramaswamy Ayyar, the then Diwan (Prime minister) of the State was the first Vice-Chancellor. He was an eminent scholar and an able administrator. It is said the Government made an unsuccessful attempt to invite Albert Einstein to be the first Vice-Chancellor. The university has had in its faculties eminent scholars who were trained under legendary figures (Sir C V Raman’s student in Dept of Physics, Prof S. R. Ranganathan’s student in Library Science and Prof Benjamin Bloom’s student in Dept of Education). Some of the faculty members themselves were legends, such as famous poet Ayyappa Paniker, Oriental scholar T. Ganapati Sastri etc. The total number of full-time students in the University Departments is above 2000 including research students and a modest number of foreign students. The Institute of Distance Education offers a number of under-graduate and post graduate programmes which cater to more than 7000 students, all over the country and abroad.

National Cadet Corps[edit]

The University of Kerala has the honour of having sown the seeds of NCC much before it came into being in the country. The Travancore University Labour Corps (TULC), organized in September 1939 can be said to be the progenitor of the NCC. It was formed to inculcate in youth a sense of dignity of labour and to impart to them, military training. H. H. Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal of Travancore, Chancellor of the University, was the Commander –in –chief of the Corps and Lt. Col Godavarma Raja,[6] its Officer Commanding(CO). The cadets were recruited from local colleges, and membership in the Corps was recognized as sufficient qualification for recruitment to the State forces. In 1943-44, the name of the Corps was changed to Travancore University Officers Training and Labour Corps, to conform to the nomenclature of similar organizations in the country. The Government of India formally inaugurated the NCC in 1948, in March 1949, the Corps was disbanded and the Travancore Battalion NCC was started. At present, NCC units function in 92 colleges under the University of Kerala.[7]


The university has sixteen faculties and forty-one departments of teaching and research. There are eighty-one affiliated colleges. Of these forty, five are aided first grade arts and science colleges, eight are unaided first grade arts and science colleges, two are law colleges, four engineering colleges, two medical colleges, seven aided teachers training colleges, six unaided teachers training colleges, one Ayurveda college, on homeopathy college, two fine arts colleges, one music college and one college of physical education. Besides this, there is an affiliated institute conducting a 2-year full-time MBA course. The University has recently started an engineering college at its Kariavattom campus. The university has study centres in areas such as Nanotechnology, Kerala Studies, Bioinformatics, Women's Studies, Learning Difficulties, Sree Narayana Studies, Gandhian Studies etc. Some of these centres have taught programmes (Certificate/Diploma/Masters/Mphil) and many offer PhD programmes. The university has established ten University College of Teacher Education (UTEC) and eight University Institute of Technologies (UIT) both of which offer under-graduate programmes (BEd in UTECs and BSc Computer Science/IT, Electronics/BBA in UITs), although masters programmes are available in select UITs. The University College of Engineering at Kariavattom offers Engineering Education at Undergraduate level. These institutions together have a student strength of more than 5000. The university has over 150 affiliated colleges. The role of the university is in prescribing courses of study and conducting examinations and issuing certificates. The day-to-day administration of these institutions is not under the control of the university. However, these institutions form a major part of the University. Of these 60 are Arts and Science colleges. There are 2 Law colleges, 17 Engineering Colleges, 9 MBA/MCA Colleges, 37 Teacher Training Colleges, 4 Medical Colleges, 4 Ayurveda colleges, 2 Homeopathy Colleges, one Siddha Medical College, 3 Dental Colleges, 10 Nursing Colleges, 4 Pharmacy Colleges, 2 Fine Arts Colleges, and a Music College. The university also has a National College of Physical Education affiliated to it. The total number of students in these colleges is around more than 100,000. In addition to Departments, Centres and Affiliated colleges, the university has other institutions under it:

  • The Academic Staff College set up with aid of the University Grants Commission, offers in-service courses to teachers in higher education and has trained over 15,000 teachers.
  • The Centre for Adult & Continuing Education (CACEE) aims at ‘further education of the educated’ for which it received UNESCO- NLM award for literacy in 2005.
  • The Department of Publications, one of the oldest departments of the university, has brought out noteworthy publications including Saraswathi Kantabharanam, a treatise on Sanskrit Grammar, the five volume Kerala Sahitya Charithram by Mahakavi Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer and Sahithya Nayakanmar (Men of Letters) Series, Chitra Ramayana, based on palm-leaf manuscripts and the recent English and Malayalam translations of Hortus Malabaricus, the classical treatise on the plant wealth of Asia and the tropics. A Malayalam Lexicon is being attempted by the Lexicon Dept. Seven volumes of the proposed eleven-volume Malayalam Lexicon have been released so far and the editing work of the remaining four volumes is progressing.
  • The University Computer Centre spearheads the university’s e-Governance initiatives. Computing support for research is no longer centralised, with the advent of affordable desktop computing power. The university’s main campus in Kariavattom is connected to the internet with broad-band connection flowing into hundreds of computers. The university web site was started in 2000.

Since 1946 the university has published the Journal of Indian History. The International Journal of Kerala Studies is an established Journal. The Manuscript Library of the university is a treasure trove of Indian culture. The library has over 65,000 works in 30,000 copies mainly of palm leaf manuscripts. In addition, some paper manuscripts, a few copper plates, writings on Bhurjapatra (birch bark), Agarutvak (the bark of Amyris agallocha) and textiles are also found in the collection. The manuscript collection includes those belonging to other Indian states and nations such as Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal etc. About eighty per cent of the collections are in Sanskrit. The initial moulds of scripts of modern Indian languages like Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Oriya, Assamese and Burmese are also found.

  • The Centre for Adult & Continuing Education (CACEE) received the UNESCO- NLM award for literacy in 2005. The first world Malayalam Conference was organised by the University of Kerala in 1977.

Educational system[edit]

The university follows the choice based credit and semester system for all post-graduate (masters) programmes and is in the process of introducing this at under-graduate (bachelors) level. Semesters typically fall during the months of August–January and February–July.

Students' council[edit]

Its supreme bodies – Senate and Academic Council have large number of elected members and students are represented in both. The executive body of the university, the Syndicate also has a student representative in it (for the first time in Indian Universities, in 1977). The university Union has been a presence in university life since 1939. To serve the students who are away from the headquarters at Trivandrum, University Study Centres have been set up with UGC assistance, at Kollam, Alappuzha and Pandalam. Besides these, there are 13 Taluk Information Centres. The university also supplies information to students through the Help-desks in affiliated colleges. The Co-ordinator of the National Service Scheme Programme and the Director of the Student Services organize youth welfare activities with the active co-operation of the University Students' Union. The University won the Indira Gandhi National Award for the best NSS activities in 2005.


The Department of Physical Education nurtures sports among students. The University stadium in the heart of the city has a synthetic track. The university has a main library near its city campus and caters to all students, staff and public. In addition to this Kariavattom campus has a Campus Library. Department libraries and College libraries complete the information service to students.


The University Grants Commission has identified the university as one of the 26 institutions selected for promotion of India Studies by foreign students. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council(NAAC) has placed the university at the A grade as of March 5, 2015. University's supreme bodies – Senate and Academic Council and the executive body of the University, the Syndicate, also has student representation in it (for the first time in Indian Universities, in 1977).


The university has honoured scholars, scientists and technologists, artists and thought leaders with honorary degrees. Amartya Sen, K. J. Yesudas, Laurie Baker, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, Bharatha Rathna M. S. Subbulakshmi, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Harikesanallur Muthaiha Bhagavathar, O. N. V. Kurup, G Madhavan Nair, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Ilya Prigogine are among the recipients.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ABOUT". Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ (हितोपदेशम्, तृतीयः कथासंग्रहः - विग्रहः, कथा ९, हित् - ३.१२३)
  5. ^ Kerala - Official Website, University of. "University of KeralaThiruvananthapuram, Kerala". Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Wikipedia,, the free encyclopedia. "G. V. Raja". Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  7. ^ NCC in the University of Kerala, University of Kerala

External links[edit]