Scottish Church College, Calcutta

From Academic Kids

Located at 1 & 3 Urquhart Square, Calcutta - 700006, the Scottish Church College is the oldest continuing Missionary administered liberal arts and sciences academy in India. It is affiliated with the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (for the Scottish Church Collegiate School), the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, and the University of Calcutta for the awarding of baccalaureate, post baccalaureate and undergraduate degrees.

It is well-known for its beautiful campus, renowned faculty, Baroque architecture, and robust intellectual milieu. Its students and faculty, past and present, call themselves "Caledonians" in the name of the college festival, "Caledonia". The collegial motto is "Nec Tamen Consumebatur", which means "Burning, but yet not consumed".



The inception of what is now known as the Scottish Church College is intertwined with the life of Dr. Alexander Duff, D. D. LLD. (1806-1878), the first overseas missionary of the Church of Scotland, to India. Initially known as the General Assembly's Institution, it was founded on the 13th of July 1830.

Alexander Duff was born in Moulin, Perthshire, the very heart of Scotland, on 15th April 1806. From the country school, he passed on to the University of St Andrews, where, after getting his degree, he ended a brilliant career. Subsequently, he undertook his evangelical mission to India. After an adventurous voyage during which he was twice shipwrecked, he arrived in Calcutta on 27th May 1830.

Rev. Alexander Duff opened his institution in Feringhi Kamal Bose's house, upper Chitpur Road, Jorasanko. In 1836 the institution was moved to Gorachad Basak's house in Garanhata. Mr. Macfarlon, the Chief-Magistrate of Calcutta, laid the foundation stone on 23rd February 1837. Mr. John Gray, elected by Messrs. Burn & Co. and superintented by Capt. John Thomson of the Hon. East India Company's Institution, designed the building. The construction of the building was completed in 1839.

Historical Significance

In the early 1800s, the General Assembly of Scotland sent Reverend Alexander Duff, a young and dedicated missionary, to Kolkata to set up an English-medium institution. Though Bengalis had shown some interest in the spread of Western education from the beginning of the 19th century, both the local church and government officers were sceptical about the high-caste Bengali's response to the idea of an English-medium institution. Raja Ram Mohan Roy helped by organising the venue and bringing in the first batch of students. He also assured the guardians that reading the Bible did not necessarily imply religious conversion. Although his ultimate aim was the spread of English education, Duff was aware that without a good command on one's native language, it was well nigh impossible to master a foreign tongue. Hence in his General Assembly's Institution, as also in the Free Church Institution, the teaching and learning of the Bengali language and literature was high priority. Duff was keen on sports and had accumulated different kinds of sports-related equipment in his institution. When he introduced political economy as a subject in the curricula, the Church strongly criticised him. These two institutions were later united under the name Scottish Churches College.

Along with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the father of modern India, Dr. Duff played a significant role in supporting Lord Macaulay in drafting his famous Minute for the introduction of English education in India. Successive eminent missionary scholars from Scotland, viz. Dr. Ogilvie, Dr. Hastie, Dr. Macdonald, Dr. Stephen, Dr. Watt, Dr. Urquhart and others contributed to the spread of the liberal Western education. Along with the Hindu College, later to be known as Presidency College, (see Presidency College, Kolkata) the Scottish Churches College (after the re-unification of the churches of Scotland in 1929, it became known as Scottish Church College) played a pivotal role in ushering the spirit of intellectual enquiry and a general acceptance of the ideals of the European Enlightenment, among Bengalis, in what came to be regarded as the Young Bengal Movement and the Bengal Renaissance.

Duff's contemporaries included such luminaries as Reverend Mackay, Reverend Ewart and Reverend Thomas Smith. Till the early 20th century the norm was to bring teachers from Scotland (like Amy G. Stock, Kitty Scoular etc.) but eminent Indian scholars were also engaged as teachers by the college authorities. Scholars like Kalicharan Bandyopadhyay, Jnan Chandra Ghosh, Gouri Shankar Dey, Adhar Chandra Mukhopadhyay Sushil Chandra Dutta, Mohimohan Basu, Sudhir Kumar Dasgupta, Nirmal Chandra Bhattacharya and Bholanath Mukhopadhyay have all contributed hugely to enhance the standard of the college.

Dr. Duff played a leading part in founding the University of Calcutta in 1857, he was associated with the Agro-horticultural Society and the establishment of a medical college, the first in India. He also aimed at breaking down caste-barriers by founding several girls schools.

The Scottish Church College played a pioneering role in women's education as well as co-education in the country. Female students comprise half the present roll strength of the College. With the added interest of the missionaries in educational work and social upliftment, the College stands as a monument to Indo-Scottish Co-operation. The aims and principles of the College are essentially those of its founder namely, the formation of character through education based on Christian teaching.

Notable Alumni

and many others found throughout the globe. Apart from the above, the alumni of Scottish Church College also include famous scientists, academicians, philosophers, litterateurs, artists, administrators, jurists and bureaucrats. The achievements of the students of today carry on the legacy of the stalwarts of yesteryears.

Abstract from NAAC Report (see link below): "The very impressive and a very long list of alumni of the college includes the names of Governors, Chief Ministers, Ministers, Vice-Chancellors of some eminent Universities of India, Jurists, Administrators, Ambassadors, Speakers, Educationists, Historians, Scholars, Doctors, Authors, Poets, Dramatists, Novelists, Political Leaders, Religious Leaders, Sports persons, Film personalities, Actors, Singers, Artists etc. etc. "


Since 2001, this college has been a member of the Christian Colleges of South East Asia. This is expected to usher exchange programs with scholars and faculty members of educational institutions in the South East Asian region.

Recently, the college celebrated 175 years of existence.

In recognition of its robust academic milieu, it has been granted the National Assessment and Accreditation Council's "A" rating in 2004. link (

External links


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