The objectives of the University shall be to disseminate and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research facilities in such branches of learning as it may deem fit; to pay special attention to the improvement of the social and economic conditions and welfare of the people of the hill areas of the North-Eastern region, and, in particular, their intellectual, academic and cultural advancement
North-Eastern Hill University was set up by an Act of Parliament and notified on 19th July 1973. The objectives of the University, as laid down in the act, are “to disseminate and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research facilities in such branches of learning as it may deem fit; to pay special attention to the improvement of the social and economic conditions and welfare of the people of the hill areas of the North-eastern region, and in particular, the intellectual, academic and cultural advancement”.
The jurisdiction of the University extended originally to the states of Meghalaya and Nagaland and the erstwhile Union Territories of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. With the establishment of the Nagaland University on 6th September 1994, the jurisdiction of NEHU ceased over Nagaland. Likewise with the establishment of the Mizoram University the jurisdiction of NEHU over Mizoram also ceased from June, 2001. Arunachal Pradesh has its own university.
However the North-Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology located in Arunachal Pradesh is affiliated to NEHU.
Initially, the academic departments and administration of the University at Shillong functioned from hired buildings. Very soon, however, NEHU acquired two prime properties in the city, one belonging to the former Maharaja of Mayurbhanj and the other to the Rani of Bijni.
The academic departments then moved to these two sites. Meanwhile, the Government of Meghalaya acquired, for the University, a substantial plot of land (measuring about 1225 acres) in Umshing, a little outside the city limits, for setting up its permanent campus. This picturesque land, gently undulating and thickly wooded – a perfect location for the University – was a gift from the Government of Meghalaya.
The survey of the land and the master plan for the University were completed during the VI Five Year Plan; and construction activities began in a modest way during the VII Plan period. By the year 1991, with the completion of the construction of several residential quarters for the faculty, hostels for men and women, a ring road, a modern workshop for the University Scientific Instruction Centre, a building for the Regional Sophisticated Instrumentation Centre, and Guest House-cum-Seminar Complex, a complex of buildings for the science departments and with our own electricity and water supply system in place, the campus took the visible shape of an attractive University in the making.
In 2005, following the shifting of the departments to the Permanent Campus at Umshing, Mayurbhanj Compex at Nongthymmai was disposed off to the Government of Meghalaya. At the moment, barring a few Centres located at Bijni Compex, almost all departments of the University are housed in the buildings on the permanent campus. We now have Internet connectivity through our own VSAT to which all the departments located on the campus are linked. Efforts are on to enhance the range of our Internet connectivity. The telecommunication department has set up a fully automated telephone exchange on the campus. This is first of its kind in any University in the region.
Much of the developmental work on the campus in the past couple of years or so has been made possible by the generous grant that the University has received from the Government of India from its “non-lapsable pool”.
It is hoped that in about another couple of years or so, the University would have developed sufficient infrastructure facilities for all its Centres (presently located at Bijni Complex) to move into permanent locations in the campus. The University has also allowed, with the permission of the Government of Meghalaya, the Department of Tourism to set up an Institute of Hotel Management, Indira Gandhi National University and the Indian Council of Social Science Research to set up their regional centres on its land.
The Sports Authority of India has also been given permission to create modern sporting facilities in the University. Thus, in the very near future, the campus will grow into a suitably diverse, but coherent, University Township. It has also the potential of being a University of striking scenic beauty.
In spite of serious constraints of communication and the general lack of infrastructure facilities in the region, NEHU has established itself as an institution of higher learning and research of very high quality. It has been able to attract persons of proven academic excellence from almost all parts of the country to serve in its faculty; and its student community is drawn not only from the different parts of North-East but also from other parts of the country. In February 1996, the University set up a campus at Tura with the Departments of English, Garo and Education. Very recently a Department of Rural Development and Agricultural Production has been added to the existing three departments at Tura. A number of departments of the University now receive special grants from University Grants Commission under its Special Assistance Programme.
Four of the Science departments including Geography also receive grants under the UGC’s SAP/COSIST Programme. The Departments of Science and Technology has extended financial help to five of our science departments including Geography as part of its scheme for funding infrastructure development in higher academic institution. Some of the departments have also received grants under the UGC’s Departmental Research Support Scheme. In addition, a huge number of research projects have been awarded to individual members of faculty notably by the CSIR, DST, DAE, UGC, ICSSR, Ford Foundation and DBT, DF & E, and MoEF.
The University is also the recipient of a number endowments donated by various organisations and individuals including by Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, former President of India and Justice Krishna Aier. NEHU was also chosen for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Chair for research into protective discrimination. Several individual members of the faculty have been honoured with the highest academic awards in the country. Many of our teachers are also involved in collaborative research projects with Universities of Europe and Asia.
One of the basic ways in which the University endeavours to fulfil its “local” responsibilities, as enshrined in its Act is by focussing its attention on the North-East in its curricular programme including research. The fulfilment of its “global” responsibilities, as a member of the global academic community, is evident from the number of research publications by its teachers in journals of high international repute and the national and international seminars and conferences which are a regular feature of the University’s academic life.
At present there are fifty-three undergraduate colleges affiliated to the University including eight professional colleges. The University Central Library whose membership includes university and college teachers, postgraduate and undergraduate honours students and members of the non- teaching staff has a collection of close to 2,00,000 books, 38,000 bound periodicals and it subscribes to 316 foreign and 366 Indian current journals.Our students have done well in life after leaving the University.
Many have been taken into the Central Civil Services, Banking Services and into the University System. Several have been awarded scholarships and fellowships by both national and foreign organisations. The percentage of our students clearing the NET, GATE and other national tests is quite high.
The number of students turning for their Master’s degrees and research students working for their M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees is close to 1700. The undergraduate colleges affiliated to the University enrol about 18,000 students. Our faculty strength is just over 300.
In a short span of about 30 years NEHU has matured into an institution with a serious academic and social and cultural agenda and a clear vision for its future growth.