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St. Xavier's College, Mumbai

St. Xavier's College
Latin: Collegium Sancti Xaverii
Motto Provocans Ad Volandum
Motto in English
Encourage to fly
Established 2 January 1869 (2 January 1869)[1]
Religious affiliation
Jesuit (Roman Catholic)
Academic affiliation
University of Mumbai
Principal Dr. Agnelo Menezes[2]
Undergraduates 2,648 (as of 2007)[3]
Postgraduates 99 (as of 2007)[3]
Location Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, India, is one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in India and has been awarded the highest rating, A+ (5-Star), in the re-accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2006.[4] The college is named after Francis Xavier, the 16th-century Spanish Jesuit saint. Its campus in South Mumbai is built in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture, and recognized as a heritage structure.[4]

The college was founded by German Jesuits in 1869. It began to develop rapidly from 1884 to 1910. The imprisonment of German Jesuit priests during the First World War (1914–1918) led to a dislocation of the administration, which was mitigated by the appointment other European Jesuits. Though it began as an Arts College, by the 1920s science departments were established. The college was greatly expanded in the 1930s.

The college is run by Indian Jesuits, with special consideration to Roman Catholic students.[5] It offers undergraduate and post-graduate courses in Arts, Science, and Commerce or Public Policy. It has spawned several research institutions within its campus including the Blatter Herbarium, and is known for its inter-collegiate youth festival Malhar. In the June 2006 issue of the country's national India Today magazine, it was rated as the best college in India for Arts.[4]


  • History 1
  • Religious affiliation and ethos 2
    • Invocation 2.1
    • Crest and motto 2.2
  • Accreditation and assessment 3
  • Administration 4
  • Courses 5
    • Junior college courses 5.1
    • Undergraduate degree courses 5.2
    • Postgraduate courses 5.3
    • Diplomas 5.4
    • Certification courses 5.5
  • Institutes 6
  • Campus and facilities 7
    • Films shot on the campus 7.1
  • Extra-curricular activities 8
    • Student associations 8.1
    • Festivals 8.2
  • Magazines and publications 9
  • Notable alumni 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13


Tombstone Tablet of Founders

St. Xavier's College was founded on 2 January 1869 in Bombay by German Jesuits with just two students. These two students came from a group of six, who appeared for the University matriculation examination in 1868 from St. Mary's Institution. German Jesuit Joseph Michael Willi (or Willy), the first principal of the College from 1869–73, and three other Jesuits began lecturing and teaching at the college on 7 January 1869. The college was granted formal recognition of Bombay University on 30 January 1869. One student joined later in 1870. The first three students graduated in 1871.[1][6] From 1884 to 1910, under the patronage of Principal Frederick Dreckmann, the college began to develop rapidly.[7] The Blatter Herbarium was established in 1906 by the Swiss Jesuit priest Ethelbert Blatter and his associates.[8] The hostel was completed in 1909, while the East-West science wing, costing Rs. 200,000, was completed in 1912. The Government provided grants of Rs. 70,000 and Rs. 37,000 for the two additional buildings of the college. The college first admitted women in 1912.[7]

Leslie Orme Wilson, Governor of Bombay (1923–1926), inaugurated the extension of the East-West science wing in 1926

Being a German institute in British India, the college suffered wide repercussions during the First World War (1914–1918). Following the outbreak of the war, the German Jesuit priests, mainly the older ones, were interned and detained in 1914 at the college villa in Khandala, where many died. However, the younger German Jesuits were repatriated in 1916.[9] The departure of German Jesuits led to a dislocation in the administration of the college, but was mitigated by a few Swiss, Luxemburger and English Jesuits. The number of lay professors increased following the withdrawal of the German Jesuits.[10] In 1920, enrollment of students from outside Bombay, especially Calcutta, Yangon, Mangalore, and Sindh, started climbing. Subsequently, a third floor was added to the hostel to provide accommodation facilities to them. The college started offering six more languages: Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu, Arabic, Hebrew, and Portuguese.[11] The Spanish Jesuits arrived in 1922.[10] By the 1920s, the colleges had expanded its offerings to more than just liberal arts. Science departments such as Chemistry and Biology came to be established. The Spanish Jesuit Henry Heras founded the "Indian Historical Research Institute" in 1925. The extension of the East-West science wing was completed in 1925, and opened by Leslie Orme Wilson, Governor of Bombay (1923–1926), on 26 January 1926, at an outlay of Rs. 200,000.[12]

The following decade, the priest Gonzalo Palacios propelled massive architectural expansions, with the addition of a third floor to the East-West science wing, and the demolition of the Chemistry shed in April 1935. The General Library was shifted to the new central building providing space for over 100,000 books and 6,000 volumes of periodicals. The college took charge of the Abdulla Fazalbhoy Technical Institute for Radio and Cinema (now known as the St. Xavier's Technical Institute) near Mahim Causeway. More rooms were added to the hostel together with a tower. The construction of the college chapel, which had begun in 1937, was completed under the reign of Principal Aloysius Coyne (1940–1949).[13] The college hall was inaugurated in January 1937 by Lord Brabourne, Governor of Bombay (1933–1937).[9] In August 1939, non-degree course for the Teacher's Diploma was started, while Microbiology was revolutionized.[14] After India's independence in 1947, Hindi began to be taught in the College from June 1949, and several new departments were instituted, such as the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (1951) and the Department of Psychology (1957).[15]

Barack Obama greeting students (2010)

Towards the later 20th century, St. Xavier's has continued to expand in student body and faculty size, and has seen the establishment of several research centers and programs. In the recent years, the college has been run by Indian Jesuits of the Bombay Province, in close collaboration with the Society of Jesus in Germany and Spain.[16]

On 18 July 2009, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the college. She conducted an interactive session with its students regarding academics and education.[17][18] In November 2010 US President Barack Obama visited the college and held a town hall meeting.

Religious affiliation and ethos

Francis Xavier, after whom the college is named

The College is Roman Catholic and the Society of Jesus exercises responsibility over it through a Governing Body whose chairman is the Provincial of the Bombay Province of the Society. St. Xavier's College is named after Francis Xavier, a Spanish Jesuit saint of the 16th century who travelled to India. The College seeks to give an all-round formation, inculcating both human and spiritual values.[19] It gives special consideration to Roman Catholics (under the minority rights enshrined in the Constitution of India) for whose education the college was founded. Currently 50% of the seats are reserved for Catholics.[5]


Crest and motto

The crest was designed by Fr. T. Molina in 1929, a student of heraldry and a member of the college staff. It shows an eagle teaching its young to fly. Above it, on the left side is the emblem of the Society of Jesus, which consists of the first three Greek initials for "Jesus" set in a sun; on the right is a chequered moon, taken from the arms of the house of Xavier. The Latin motto PROVOCANS AD VOLANDUM, "Encourage to Fly", is central to the ethos of the college and comes from the Bible, which mentions how the eagle encourages its young to fly. As a whole, the crest symbolizes a college that bears the name of Xavier and is run by the Jesuits, with the ideal of educating young men and women to aim high in life.[21]

Accreditation and assessment

Since 30 January 1869, St. Xavier's College has been affiliated with the University of Mumbai. It is accredited by the University with the task of preparing students for degrees in Arts, Science, and Commerce.[19] It was made a constituent college of the university in 1953 following the Bombay University Act 1953, and received recognition by the University Grants Commission (UGC) since 1956.[3] In 2007, the College was awarded the highest rating A+ (5-Star) in the re-accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an autonomous body linked to the University Grants Commission of India.[22][23] The country's national India Today magazine report on colleges has consistently rated Xavier in the top 10 colleges in India in recent years. In the June 2000 and June 2006 issue, Xavier has been rated the best Arts College and the second best Science and Commerce College in the country.[4][23][24][25] The UGC has awarded St. Xavier's the "College with a Potential for Excellence" award in 2006.[23] On 31 May 2010, the College was granted autonomy by the University Grants Commission, thereby becoming only the second college in Mumbai to be granted such a status.[26][27]


The Second Quadrangle Arches

The Governing Body consists of the chairman, vice chairman, ex-officio trustees, members, the local managing committee, and an advisory council. The principal functions through the Academic Council of the three vice principals and other important officials, aided by the Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) which is responsible for planning and evaluation of the college. Various committees of staff and students take responsibility for the different activities of the college. The Local Managing Committee (LMC) comprises nine members, including the principal as the secretary and rector as the chairperson, and meets twice every year. It prepares the budget and financial statements, recommends creation of new posts, recommends measures for academic and administrative improvement, and undertake many other vital decision-making activities. The prospective plan for the institutional development is done after consecutive meetings with the Academic Council, IQAC, and the heads of the departments. The college takes measures to upgrade the skills of non-teaching staff by conducting workshops and training programmes during vacations, and conducting sessions on personality enhancement and financial management.[28][29] An Advisory Council of eminent alumni has also been constituted.[30]

The College has 90 permanent teachers (of whom 53 are women), 3 full-time teachers, 11 part-time teachers, and 2 teachers working as full-time on temporary assignment, raising the number of full-time teachers to 95. The teacher-student ratio is 1:33. Three teachers have been accorded special awards and recognition for their distinguished service.[3]


As of 2007, the college remains mainly an undergraduate college, with 2648 undergraduate students and 99 postgraduate students.[3] The syllabi for undergraduate and postgraduate courses are prepared by the University of Mumbai, and include mid-term tests and final examinations.[31] The success rate of students is 90 to 100 percent across all departments,[32] and 95 to 100 percent in university examinations.[3] Special considerations are given to Catholics, economically and socially disadvantaged applicants, and students from scheduled castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Programs operated by the college include The Learning for Life Programme, Honours Programme, Social Involvement Programme, and Personality and Human Values.[33][34][35]

Junior college courses

Junior college courses in science and arts last two years. Applicants are evaluated on their performance in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination of the Mumbai Divisional Board.[36]

Undergraduate degree courses

Undergraduate degree courses last three years. Applicants are evaluated based on their academic performance in the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examination of the Mumbai Divisional Board.[37]


Several institutes have been established on St. Xavier's campus, including:

Research Institutes

Campus and facilities

The college is built in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture

St. Xavier's stands on a 2.94 acres (11,900 m2) campus in the Fort locality of South Mumbai. It is located near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, which serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways, and Churchgate station, which serves as the headquarters of the Western Railways. The college is built in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture, and has been recognized as a heritage structure by the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee.[4][52] The main college library is central and common to all the academic activities of the College. It has a collection of 133,489 books, of which more than 50% are reference books, with some dating back to the 16th century. It also has 76 journals, of which 14 are foreign journals. The library has a carved cabinet, card index of books, and a computerized database of books. Students have access to a lending library, reference library, paperback library, non-print media library and a vast collection of journals, current and back volumes. Books are lent out at the lending library, which also houses the online public access catalog (OPAC) for information search. The reference library includes reserve counters, overnight loans, photo-copying services, reference services, Inter-library loans, journals, reference books, and a special Multi-media facility for accessing compact disks (CDs) on computers. Students also have access to a paperback library and a non-print media library, where audio cassettes, television, and video cassette recorder (VCR) facilities are available for group and individual use.[3][53][54]

"The Woods" leisure space

The campus also has a leisure space known as the "The Woods" which includes a couple of large trees.[55] The college runs a small hostel on campus for male students of the senior college. The hostel has a capacity of 60 students, with each room being meant for two occupants.[5][52] The college also has a chapel cum prayer hall with green stained glass exteriors, arching vaults, and intricate marble work, behind the façade facing the college quadrangle.[9][56] It has two fully equipped audio-visual centres, the Smith Centre for Audio-Visual Instruction (SCAVI), with a seating capacity of 100, and the Multi-Media Room (MMR) which seats 110. Classrooms have partially Information technology (IT) enabled accessories, fiberglass boards, and pull down screens.[3][52] A full-fledged language laboratory has also been set up to cater to students from non-English medium schools and to promote multi-language skills.[32] There is also an auditorium, a spacious canteen, and full size basketball and volleyball courts. The Fell Gymkhana, built in 1954, provides bodybuilding, badminton, table-tennis, carrom, chess, and other recreational facilities for staff and students. The St. Xavier's Villa in Khandala is a property of the college nestled in the hills of the Western Ghats mountain range, about two hours from Mumbai. It provides facilities for retreats, seminars, and educational conferences. The college also has a cricket pitch leased by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on the Azad Maidan sports ground, near the college.[33][54]

College Chapel

The College Counselling Centre, founded in 1954, provides personal counselling, personality evaluation tests, testing programmes for vocational purposes, information on careers, professions, and specialized studies in India and abroad, information on scholarships and financial assistance schemes, admission guidance to students, and also organizes orientation programmes.[54][57] The College Placement Centre exposes students to reputed employers, trains them in writing resumes, and acquaints them with the selection process of Corporates.[57] There are separate Common Rooms for male and female students and for Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff. The Xavier's Women's Development Cell was formed in 2006 to coordinate programmes for awareness and action on women's issues, since girls constitute more than 60% of the student strength. It also serves as a grievance redressal cell for complaints of sexual harassment. First Aid Centres are also available in the College general office and the Counselling Centre.[28][58] The College undertakes a number of welfare measures for students and staff including provision of insurance coverage.[28] The College has also set up a Grievance Redressal Cell with a representative from a Non-governmental Organization (NGO).[30]

Films shot on the campus

Extra-curricular activities

Xavier's students, "Xavierites", maintain good interactive relationship with peers from other colleges by participating in many inter-college competitions, and by organizing college festivals. A platform known as Mosaic, which is an inter-disciplinary, interdepartmental activity of exhibitions and poster presentations, has also been set up.[61] Students also organize hobby clubs like the "Philately Club" and the "Star Gazers Club" to pursue their individual interests.[56]

Student associations

The Alumni Association, established in 1902, is actively involved in fundraising, providing scholarships, career counseling, and felicitation of the retiring staff.[30] The Indian Music Group (IMG) was founded in 1973 to promote Indian Classical Music in the city, especially among its young people. It organises concerts, lecture-demonstrations and music appreciation courses. Its annual Indian classical music festival, Janfest, is wellknown.[62]


Malhar, one of the most popular college festivals in the city, is hosted by the students of St. Xavier's College.[63] It is an inter-collegiate youth festival in existence since 1979. It is usually held in August during the rains and involves teams from about 60 other colleges in Mumbai and elsewhere, with around 30 cultural contests in the Literary, Performing Arts, and Fine Arts categories, along with a number of Workshops on different themes. It draws about 20,000 student participants and audience to the College Campus.[33][34][64] Janfest is a wellknown Indian classical music festival in India, held in January, and hosted by the Indian Music Group (IMG). Inaugurated in 1974, it promotes classical music among the youth, and offers a platform for young people to showcase their talent. It has played host to maestros of Indian classical music like Hariprasad Chaurasia, Zakir Hussain, and Ravi Shankar.[65] Additionally, the college hosts Ithaka, the annual English literature and theatre festival organised by the English Literature department since 1990. It is a platform for students to demonstrate their theatrical talents. Theatre personalities such as Qasar Padamsee started their careers in Ithaka.

In 2011–12, the Mass Media department organised Zeitgeist – The Media Conference[66] for the first time. It has welcomed panellists like The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project. Then in 2012 Xavier hosted its first Science Fest – Paradigm,[67] an All-Inclusive, Pan-Departmental, Inter-Collegiate Science Festival. Paradigm '12 hosted Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha along with Sunjoy Monga, Ajoy Ghatak, and Raghavendra Gadagkar to deliver talks on a wide variety of topics.

Magazines and publications

The college launched its commemorative Coffee Table Book St. Xavier's College – Celebrating Diversity since 1869 as a part of its 140 years celebration. It covers all aspects of the College's mighty tradition, and the present. Each March and September Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, within the College campus, publishes the research journal Indica. It began publication in 1964 and emphasizes the research work of staff and students at Heras Institute.[41] Then there's the St. Xavier's College magazine and online newsletter The Xavierite, covering stories, events, and reports related to the college and its alumni. Student magazines include Ithaka (Literature), Aithihasik (History), Vox Populi (Political Science), Eidos (Sociology), The Catchphrase (Mass Media),The Michronicle (Microbiology), and Arthniti (Economics).[68]

A monthly newspaper The Xavier's Press was inaugurated in December 2008 by the Student Council and is run entirely by undergraduates. It covers events and issues of interest to the general student body.

Notable alumni

Notable former students of the college include educationists, civil servants and bureaucrats, diplomats, politicians, scientists, legal experts, judges, industrialists, administrators, army officers, medical professionals, artists, media persons, religious leaders, sportpersons, architects, and cultural ambassadors.[3]


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  • Assessment Report on Institutional Reaccreditation of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, Maharashtra.  
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Further reading

  • St. Xavier's College, Celebrating Diversity since 1869 (2010)

External links

  • St. Xavier's College Official Website
  • Malhar's Official Website
  • 360 degree view of the college campus.
  • NewsletterThe Xaverite
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