Serampore College

Serampore College is located in Serampore Town, in Hooghly District, West Bengal, India. The college consists of two entities: The theological faculty and a separate college with faculties of arts, science, commerce.

Senate of Serampore College (University) runs the academic administration of all the theological colleges affiliated with it. The council of Serampore College holds a Danish charter and had the power to confer degrees in any subject, which it currently exercises only for conferring theological degrees as recommended by the senate.

Degrees are awarded for arts, science and commerce students of the Serampore College by the University of Calcutta.

For theology, the college is affiliated to the Senate of Serampore College (University). Several theological colleges and seminaries all over India including Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are affiliated to the Senate of Serampore College (University).

Since Serampore was a Danish Colony from 1755 to 1845, the Baptist missionaries were given all encouragement to develop their educational enterprise by the Danish Governors, Colonel Bie and his successor Colonel Krefting. Joshua Marshman visited Copenhagen and secured from the King of Denmark, Frederick the Sixth, a Royal Charter, empowering the College to confer degrees in all faculties. In other words, Serampore College was considered the third University, the other two being at Copenhagen and at Kiel. In 1845, when the Danish settlement was purchased by the British, the treaty of purchase included provisions for maintaining the rights and immunities granted to the College by the Royal Charter of 1827.

The powers conferred by the Royal Charter was used by the College for the first time in 1915 when three students of the College were awarded the degree of Bachelor of Divinity. The Charter was modified taking into account all legal issues involved and submitted to the Bengal Legislative Council for necessary action. The College Bill was passed by the Legislature at its meeting on 28th March, 1918 and subsequently received the assent of the Governor-General and was gazetted on 1st May 1918. The special status of Serampore College is thereby given statutory recognition in the Serampore College Act.

As part of the Centenary Celebration of the College under the leadership of the Principal Dr. George Howells, a common accrediting body, the Senate of Serampore College, was established in order to have uniform theological training for Christian Ministry for the Protestant and Orthodox churches of the whole Country and neighbouring countries through the many seminaries affiliated to the College (University). Several graduates, men and women trained through these institutions, are awarded one degree or the other in Theology at the convocation of Serampore College held annually since 1915

However, the Arts and Science department was affiliated to Calcutta University when it was established in 1857 and this connection has been maintained barring two interruptions, one during 1884 to 1909 when the College was confined to denominational theological training and again during 1960 to 1965 when the College was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Burdwan University.

We should never forget Principal George Howells’s statement in his report at the Centenary celebration of the College in 1918, ‘‘Apart from the academic recognition we are now giving to the scientific study of theology, we still retain under the Charter and the (new) Serampore College Act, the right of developing on independent University lines in other Faculties as soon as we satisfy the Government that we possess equipment and adequate funds for the purpose.’’

The other interesting point is that the founders underscored the importance of vernacular as the medium of instruction in the primary, secondary and advanced levels of study though English was always offered as an additional subject in the College. They not only promoted education in the vernacular, but also published text books on Geography, Chemistry, Medical Science & the Map of India in Bengali.