Rahshahi University at a Glance
University of Rajshahi or Rajshahi University (Bengali: রাজশাহী বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় Raajshaahi Bish-shobid-daloy) is a public university located in Rajshahi, a city in north-western Bangladesh. University of Rajshahi was established in 1953, the second university to be established in what was then East Pakistan.
The university’s forty-seven departments are organized into nine faculties. Rajshahi University is located in a 753 acres (3 km2) campus in Motihar, 3 kilometres (2 mi) from the Rajshahi city center. With 25,000 students and close to 1000 academic staff, it is one of the largest universities in Bangladesh. In addition to hosting programs in the Engineering, arts, sciences, agriculture, social sciences, business studies and medical sciences, the university houses a number of institutes of higher studies. This is the premier university in Bangladesh to have online subscription of world renowned journals.
The first proposal to establish a university came in 1917, when Calcutta University created the Sadler Commission to assess the university system in Bengal. However, the recommendations of the report had no immediate consequences.
Following the Partition of India in 1947, what is now Bangladesh became East Pakistan. University of Dhaka, established in 1921, was the only university in East Pakistan at the time. Demand for a university in the northern part of East Pakistan gained momentum when two universities were established in West Pakistan without the establishment of any in the east. Students of Rajshahi College were at the forefront of the movement demanding a new university. Finally, Rajshahi was selected as the home for the second university in East Pakistan and the Rajshahi University Act of 1953 (East Bengal Act XV of 1953) was passed by the East Pakistan provincial Assembly on 31 March 1953. Itrat Hossain Zuberi, the Principal of Rajshahi College was appointed the first Vice-Chancellor of the university. Initially, the university was housed in temporary locations, such as the local Circuit House and Bara Kuthi, an 18th-century Dutch establishment. B B Hindu Academy, a local school, housed the library, teachers’ lounge and the medical centre of the university. The university started out with 20 professors, 161 students (of which 5 were female) and six departments—Bengali, English, History, Law, Philosophy and Economics. In 1964, the offices moved to the permanent campus.
The 1960s was a turbulent period in the history of Bangladesh, when demands for East Pakistani autonomy became stronger. The students and staff of the university started playing an increasing role in politics during this period. On 18 February 1969, Shamsuzzoha, a professor of the university was killed by the police when he tried to prevent them from shooting student demonstrators. This date is now commemorated as Zoha Day. During the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, the university campus was used as a base by the Pakistan Army. A number of professors, students and officers of the university were killed by the Pakistan army during this period.
After independence, a new act regarding the administration of the university came into being—the Rajshahi University Act of 1973. The post-independence years saw the university grow steadily in student enrollment and size of the academic staff. However, the 1980s were turbulent years for the university, as the students agitated with other institutions of the country against the military rule of Hossain Muhammad Ershad. Since early 1990s, the university have seen relative calm and lowering of session backlogs, though active student politics remains a contentious issue to date.