Serampore College

The Serampore College was established in 1818, in the Danish settlement of Serampore, by three pioneer Western Christian missionaries – William Carey (1761- 1834) Joshua Marshman (1768 -1837) and William Ward (1769-1823) – for the instruction of Indian youths in Christianity and other disciplines. In 1827, the College was incorporated by a Royal Charter, granted by King Frederick VI of Denmark, with University status and powers under the authority of an independent College Council. The President of the Council is the Master of the College. The final authority in all matters related to the College is bestowed on the Master and the Council of Serampore College. The main intention of the King and the Founding Members of the College was the promotion of piety and learning, particularly among the Christians of India. It was also open to all without any distinction in castes and creeds. In 1845 in the Treaty of Purchase, which transferred Serampore from the Danish government to the British, it was provided that the rights and immunities of the Serampore College should not be interfered with. In 1856 the Council placed the College at the disposal of the Baptist Missionary Society to become part of its educational operations in Arts and Theology.

In 1858 the Serampore College was affiliated to the newly formed Calcutta University, the first body in India to exercise, though not the first to receive, University powers. The Arts section of the  College was closed in 1883 and the College became a Christian training institution of the Baptist Churches of Bengal. In 1910, a reorganization of the College was begun, and in the following ten years, it was the subject of important discussions in various conferences, denominational and inter-denominational, with a view to reorganize the College as a high level teaching institution and to utilize the College Charter for granting theological degrees to qualified students of all churches. The College was reorganized on the lines laid down by the original founders under the direct control of the College Council by the appointment of qualified theological staff and by opening higher theological classes on an inter-denominational basis. It again affiliated itself to the University of Calcutta, up to the level of Intermediate Arts in 1911; BA in 1913; Intermediate Science in 1920; and B. Sc. in 1924.

In 1915, the Serampore College Charter was utilized, for the first time, for the conferring of degrees in Divinity. In 1916, the Licentiate in Theology (L.Th.) was instituted. In 1918, the Centenary year of the College, the Serampore College Act was passed by the Bengal Legislative Council, confirming the powers of Serampore College to confer degrees and to enlarge the College Council.  It created a  College faculty for the internal governance of the College. The Act also provided for the constitution and appointment of a College Senate. The College Council appointed members of the Senate, as per the provision of the Act, representing various Christian Communions. Further, the Act authorized the College to confer degrees in Theology on students of colleges affiliated to the Senate of Serampore College. In 1919, the Governing Body of the College – the Council, Faculty, and the Senate, was reconstituted in accordance with the provisions of the Serampore College Act. In 1922, the College was closed down and shifted to Bishnupur, Kolkata. In January 1925, the responsibility of the College was taken over again by the Baptist Missionary Society. In June 1949, the Council transferred its headquarters to Serampore.

Subsequently, the Serampore College Act 1918 (the Bengal Act IV of 1918) was adapted in 1937 and 1950, and is in the law book of the Government of West Bengal as modified in 1951 and 1997 respectively.