University of Delhi
#158 Overall Influence

University of Delhi

Central university located in New Delhi

By James Barham, PhD

The University of Delhi (DU) was founded in 1922 by the government of British India. The new university soon absorbed four other colleges already existing in Delhi: Delhi College (originally founded in 1792 as Zakir Husain Delhi College); St. Stephen’s College (founded in 1881); Hindu College (founded in 1899); and Ramjas College (founded in 1917). One reason why the British decided to establish DU was the transfer of the seat of colonial administration from Kolkata (Calcutta) to Delhi in 1911.

In 1931, the district of New Delhi was carved out of the ancient city of Delhi to serve officially as the new capital of British India. As an emblem of the close connection between DU and the seat of the British colonial administration, it is interesting to note that the building housing the present vice-chancellor’s office was the Viceroy of India’s residence until 1933, when it was transferred to the university.

In 1947, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time, and the new flag of the independent Republic of India was raised in its stead.

Today, DU comprises 16 faculties organized into 86 academic departments, with an additional five research institutes.

The university welcomes both formal (regularly matriculated, or full-time) and “informal” (part-time) students. The number of formal students is more than 132,000, while an additional 261,000 students fall into the informal category, making DU one of the largest universities in the world.

Students belong to specific colleges in accordance with the English “Oxbridge” system. There are 77 such colleges in all, counting both residential and off-campus facilities.

Among prominent DU-associated individuals, we may name the following:

  • Computer engineer and entrepreneur, Vinod Dham
  • Novelists, Anita Desai, Amitav Ghosh, Upamanyu Chatterjee & Namita Gokhale
  • Film directors, Mira Nair, Shekhar Kapur, Maneesh Sharma, Prakash Jha & Anurag Kashyap
  • Actors, Roshan Seth, Shah Rukh Khan, Nandita Das, Gulshan Grover, Laksh Lalwani & Shriya Saran Bhatnagar
  • Musicologist, Sushil Kumar Saxena
  • Dancers, Leela Samson, Madhumita Raut, Geeta Chandran & Baisali Mohanty
  • Architect, Raj Rewal
  • Physicists, Venkataraman Balakrishnan, Deepak Kumar, Jogesh Pati, Shasanka Mohan Roy & Amitava Raychaudhuri
  • Physical chemist, Nanduri Atchuta Ramaiah
  • Chemists, Charusita Chakravarty, Krishna N. Ganesh & Amolak Chand Jain
  • Biochemists, T.A. (Tathamangalam Ananthanarayanan) Venkitasubramanian & Debi Prasad Sarkar
  • Molecular biologist, Gaiti Hasan
  • Geneticists, Subhash Chandra Lakhotia, Sushil Kumar & Amit Dutt
  • Immunologist, Satish Kumar Gupta
  • Parasitologist, Alok Bhattacharya
  • Professor of Forensic Medicine, Anil Aggrawal
  • Historians, Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Ramnarayan Rawat, Upinder Singh, Tapan Raychaudhuri & Percival Spear
  • Anthropologist, Veena Das
  • Economists, Amartya Sen (Nobel laureate), Jagdish N. Bhagwati, Arindam Banik, Maitreesh Ghatak, Partha Dasgupta & Kaushik Basu
  • Economist and politician, Subramanian Swamy
  • Political columnists, Prem Shankar Jha & Swaminathan Aiyar
  • Publisher, Aroon Purie
  • TV journalists, Sudhir Chaudhary, Rahul Kanwal & Ravish Kumar
  • International diplomat and Indian politician, Shashi Tharoor
  • Former Pakistani President, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
  • Current Myanmar State Counsellor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Former Indian Chief Justices, Madan Mohan Punchhi, Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal & Ranjan Gogoi
  • Economist and former Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh
  • Current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi

What is University of Delhi known for?

#27 World Rank
#62 World Rank
#75 World Rank
Political Science
#83 World Rank
Social Work
#86 World Rank
#99 World Rank
#108 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#110 World Rank
#139 World Rank
#141 World Rank
#193 World Rank
Computer Science
#207 World Rank
#236 World Rank
#248 World Rank
#278 World Rank
#319 World Rank
#322 World Rank
#374 World Rank
#424 World Rank
#424 World Rank
#425 World Rank
#470 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#682 World Rank
Religious Studies

Influential People

Who are University of Delhi's Most influential alumni?

University of Delhi's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Economics, Business, and Political Science. University of Delhi’s most academically influential people include Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, and Anita Desai.

Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy

Indian novelist, essayist, and activist

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Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh

Indian writer

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Anita Desai

Indian novelist

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Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan

Indian actor, producer and television personality

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Ramachandra Guha
Ramachandra Guha

Historian and writer from India

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Amitabh Kant
Amitabh Kant

Indian government official; CEO, NITI Aayog

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Vinod Dham
Vinod Dham

Indian engineer

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Agha Shahid Ali
Agha Shahid Ali


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Bina Agarwal
Bina Agarwal

Indian feminist economist

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Mukul Kesavan

Indian writer

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Sudeep Sen


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Raghu Ram
Raghu Ram

Television Producer, Judge with MTV India

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