21 December 2016




Already you are familiar with the primary and secondary education policy of Lord Curzon. Let’s discuss his higher education policy.

Lord Curzon was the first person to appoint a commission on University education. On January,27, 1902, the Indian University Commission was appointed under the Chairmanship of Sir Thomas Ralley to enquire into the conditions of the Universities established in British India, and to consider and report upon the proposals for improving their constitution and working. The commission submitted its report in June of the same year (1902) stressing the need for reorganisation of the Universities. It rejected the idea of setting up new Universities. Its main recommendations are as follows—

  • The jurisdiction of each University should be fixed and new Universities should not be established.
  • The constitution of the Universities should be changed to make provisions for teaching in the Universities.
  • Undergraduate and Post-graduate curricula should be introduced.
  • Conditions for recognising colleges should be stern.
  • The syndicates should have about 9-15 members.
  • The standard of the matric examination should be improved.
  • Importance should be given to the study of classical languages and arrangements should be made for the best possible teaching of English.

Indian Universities Act,1904

:This Act followed the earlier Act of 1902. The Indian Universities Act of 1904, passed on March, 21 was formulated on the basis of the recommendations of the Indian University Commission of 1902. The main provisions of this Act are—
Universities were given the right of teaching along with the right of conducting examination. In short, their scope was enlarged.
Universities had the right to appoint teachers to conduct teaching and undertake research. They also had the right to manage their libraries, laboratories and to make out plans to bring about discipline among students.
Upto the moment the number of the seats in the Senate of the Universities were not fixed and the Govt. used to make life-long nominations. According to this Act., the number was fixed. The minimum number was fifty and the maximum number was hundred. Their term was determined for five years.
The Act introduced the principle of election in the constitution of the Senate. According to this Act., 20 fellows are to be elected in the Universities of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay and 15 in other Universities.
The Act gave statutory recognition to Syndicates and made provision for the adequate representation of university teachers in the university Senate.
The Govt. reserved the right to make amendments and reforms and give approval to the rules framed by the Senates of the University and also it can frame regulations itself if the Senate fails to frame these regulations in time.
Rules in regard to granting recognition were made more strict. In order to raise the standards of education, the Syndicate could call for the inspection of colleges imparting higher education.
Prior to this Act., the territorial jurisdiction of universities was not fixed. As a result some colleges were affiliated to two universities while others were situated in the jurisdiction of one university but affiliated to another.
This Act, made it clear that the Governor General will by his ordinary or extraordinary orders fix the territorial jurisdiction of the Universities and according to this provision the relations between colleges shall be established and maintained.

Assessment of Curzon’s University Education Policy

Now let’s discuss Lord Curzon’s University Education Policy.

It is clear from the above discussion that Lord Curzon wanted to control the functioning of the universities and thereby break the autonomy of the universities. In the recommendations of the Indian University Commission of 1902, there was no proposal for establishing new university. Moreover, there was no representation of any Indian in the two Commissions because of this for his policy did not find favour with the Indian Public. Although two Indian members— G. D. Banerjee and Syed Hasan were included in later stage yet even the then Indian public did not feel happy. They were suspicious of the intention of Curzon and felt that through policy that the Govt. wanted to suppress nationalism. Many private colleges had to close down because of the policy of shrinkage of higher education taken by Lord Curzon. The number of degree colleges reduced from 192 in 1902 to 170, within a span of 10 years. This had received widespread criticism. But we cannot deny the fact that Curzon gave importance on improving the standard and quality of higher education. The credit for initiating a university improvement campaign was moving slowly but steadily towards its well defined objectives.

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