St. Xavier's College, Mumbai

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St. Xavier's College
Xaviers college.jpg
Latin: Collegium Sancti Xaverii
Motto Provocans Ad Volandum
Motto in English
Encourage to fly
Established 2 January 1869[1]
Religious affiliation
Jesuit (Roman Catholic)
Academic affiliation
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
Principal Frazer Mascarenhas[2]
Undergraduates 2,648 (as of 2007)[3]
Postgraduates 99 (as of 2007)[3]
Location Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
185636N 724953E / 18.9432N 72.8313E / 18.9432; 72.8313Coordinates: 185636N 724953E / 18.9432N 72.8313E / 18.9432; 72.8313

St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, India is a college named after Francis Xavier, the 16th-century Spanish Jesuit saint. It 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] It 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 (19141918) led to a dislocation of the administration, which was prevented by other European Jesuits. Though it began as an Arts College, by the 1920s science departments were established. The college experienced massive architectural expansions in the 1930s.

The college is run by Indian Jesuits, with special consideration to Roman Catholic students[citation needed]. It offers undergraduate and post-graduate courses in Arts, Science and Commerce[citation needed]. It has spawned several research institutions within its campus such as Blatter Herbarium, and is known for its famous 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]


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. Joseph Antony Willy, the first principal of the College from 1869 to 1873, and three other Jesuits began to lecture them 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][5] From 1884 to 1910, under the patronage of Principal Frederick Dreckmann, the college began to develop rapidly.[6] The Blatter Herbarium was established in 1906 by the Swiss Jesuit priest Ethelbert Blatter and his associates.[7] 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.[6]

Leslie Orme Wilson, Governor of Bombay (19231926), 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 (19141918). 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.[8] The departure of German Jesuits led to a dislocation in the administration of the college, but was prevented by a few Swiss, Luxemburger and English Jesuits. The number of lay professors increased following the withdrawal of the German Jesuits.[9] 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.[10] The Spanish Jesuits arrived in 1922.[9] 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 (19231926), on 26 January 1926, at an outlay of Rs. 200,000.[11]

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 (19401949).[12] The college hall was inaugurated in January 1937 by Lord Brabourne, Governor of Bombay (19331937).[8] In August 1939, non-degree course for the Teacher's Diploma was started, while Microbiology was revolutionized.[13] 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).[14]

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.[15]

Religious affiliation and ethos[edit]

Francis Xavier, the namesake of the college
Crest and motto of the college

The College is Roman Catholic and the Society of Jesus exercises responsibility over the college 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 was founded by the Society of Jesus, a Christian Religious Group, started by Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish saint, in 1540. The College strives to form men and women, especially Christians and the marginalised, to build a more just and humane world. The intellectual endeavour it strives for, focuses on critical and creative thinking, with the aim of social transformation. This endeavor is inspired by the values of the Gospel from the New Testament of the Christian scriptures while it appreciates and promotes all the other religions, especially the rich religious heritage of India. The College seeks to give an all-round formation for the marginalised, inculcating both human and spiritual values.[16] The College gives special consideration to Roman Catholics under the minority rights enshrined in the Constitution of India, for whose education the college was founded. 50% of the seats are reserved for Catholics.[17]


Crest and motto[edit]

The crest was designed by Fr. T. Molina in 1929, a student of heraldry and a member of the college's staff. It shows an eagle teaching its young ones to fly. Above it, on the left side, is the emblem of the Society of Jesus, which consists of the Greek initials of the name of 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 The motto is taken from the Bible and refers to the eagle who encourages its young ones to fly. The entire crest symbolizes an educational institution that bears the name of Xavier and is run by the Society of Jesus, and having an ideal, to inspire the young men and women entrusted to its care and to train them to aim high in life.[19]

Accreditation and assessment[edit]

The Second Quadrangle Arches

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.[16] 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.[20][21] The country's national India Today magazine report on colleges has consistently rated it in the top 10 colleges in India for the past few years. In the June 2000 and June 2006 issue, St. Xavier's has been rated the best Arts College in India and the second best Science and Commerce College in the country.[4][21][22][23] The UGC has awarded St. Xavier's, the "College with a Potential for Excellence" award in 2006.[21] 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.[24][25]


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 perspective plan for the institutional development is done after consecutive meetings with the Academic Council, IQAC and the Heads of the Departments. The College also 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.[26][27] An Advisory Council of eminent alumni has also been constituted.[28]

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 stands at 1:33. Three teachers have also been accorded special awards and recognition for their distinguished service.[3]


St. Xavier's offers two-year junior college courses in Arts and Science; three-year undergraduate degree courses, such as Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com.), Bachelor of Management Studies (B.M.S.), Bachelor of Mass Media (B.M.M.), and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSc I.T.); and postgraduate courses such as Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (MSc), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Arts and Science.[17] Additionally, Diplomas in Clinical Research, Forensic Science, Gemmology, Industrial Biotechnology and Enterprise; and Certification courses in Diamond Grading, Jewellery Designing, are also offered by the college.[29][30] The syllabi for the undergraduate and postgraduate courses are prepared by the University of Mumbai, and comprises mid-term tests and final examinations.[31] As of 2007, the college remained basically an undergraduate college, with 2648 students enrolled at the undergraduate level, and 99 students enrolled at the postgraduate level.[3] The college operates programmes such as, The Learning for Life Programme, Honours Programme, Social Involvement Programme, and Personality and Human Values.[32][33]

Applicants to undergraduate courses are evaluated based on the academic performance in the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examination of the Mumbai Divisional Board,[34] while applicants to junior college are evaluated on the performance in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination of the board.[35] Special considerations are given to Catholics, economically and socially disadvantaged, and students from scheduled castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). The success rate of students varies between 90100 percent across all departments,[36] and between 95100 percent in the university examinations.[3] St. Xavier's is home to several institutions within its campus, some of which have moved out, such as Xavier's Institute at Churchgate, and Xavier Institute of Engineering at Mahim.[37] The research institutions include Blatter Herbarium for taxonomic studies,[7][38] Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture,[39] Caius Laboratory for Inter-Disciplinary Research for medicinal research,[40] and Nadkarni Sacasa Research Laboratory for chemistry.[41] The non-research institutions include Xavier Institute of Communications for media,[42][43][44] Xavier Institute of Counselling,[45] Xavier Institute of Social Research,[41] Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged,[46] Xavier Institute of Management & Research,[47][48] and Xavier Knowledge Center for computers.[49]

Campus and facilities[edit]

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][50] 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][51][52]

An aerial view of Woods

The campus also has a leisure space known as the "Woods", which comprises a couple of large trees.[53] 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.[17][50] The college also has a chapel cum prayer hall with green stained glass exteriors, arching vaults, and intricate marble work, behind the faade facing the college's quadrangle.[8][54] 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), with a seating capacity of 110. Class-rooms have partially Information technology (IT) enabled accessories, fiberglass boards, and pull down screens.[3][50] 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.[36] The college is also equipped with 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 Ghat mountain ranges, 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.[32][52]

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.[52][55] The College Placement Centre exposes students to reputed employers, trains them in writing resumes, and acquaints them with the selection process of Corporates.[55] 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.[26][56] The College undertakes a number of welfare measures for the students and the staff including provision of insurance coverage.[26] The College has also set up a Grievance Redressal Cell with a representative from a Non-governmental organization (NGO).[28]

Campus View[edit]

Recently launched start-up in collaboration with St. Xavier's College, have made available the 360 degree view of the college campus.

Extra Curricular activities[edit]

Xavier's students known as "Xavierites", maintain good interactive relationship with peers from other colleges by participating in many inter-college competitions, and by organizing the college festivals. A platform known as Mosaic, which is an inter-disciplinary, interdepartmental activity of exhibitions and poster presentation, has also been set up.[57] Students also organize hobby clubs like the "Philately Club" and the "Star Gazers Club" to pursue their individual interests.[54]

Student associations[edit]

The Alumni Association established in 1902, is actively involved in fund raising for the college, provisioning of scholarships, career counseling, and felicitation of the retiring staff.[28] 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 well known.[58]


Main article: Malhar (festival)

Malhar is one of the most popular college festivals in the city hosted by the students of St. Xavier's College.[59] It is an inter-collegiate youth festival, and has been 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.[32][33][60] Janfest is a well known 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.[61] Additionally, the college also hosts Ithaka, the annual English literature and theatre festival organised by the English Literature department which began in 1990. It is a platform for students to demonstrate their theatrical talents. Theatre personalities such as Qasar Padamsee started their careers in Ithaka.

In 201112, the Mass Media department organised Zeitgeist The Media Conference[62] for the first time. In its past two editions, it has boasted of panellists like Shekhar Kapoor and Madhu Trehan among others. At its second edition, it also organised a screening of the film, The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project.

In 2012 Xavier's hosted its first Science Fest Paradigm.[63] Paradigm is the All-Inclusive, Pan-Departmental, Inter-Collegiate Science Festival of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. Paradigm '12 hosted speakers like Sunjoy Monga, Ajoy Ghatak, Raghavendra Gadagkar and even Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha to deliver talks on a wide variety of topics.

Magazines and publications[edit]

The college launched its commemorative Coffee Table Book named 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 present. The Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, within the college campus, publishes the research journal Indica twice a year, in March and September. It has been published since 1964 and specializes in the subjects in which the staff and students of the Heras Institute have done most of their research work.[39] The college publishes its own magazine known as St. Xavier's College magazine. The college also has an online newsletter, known as The Xavierite, covering stories, events, and reports related to the college and its alumni. The college also publishes several student magazines like Ithaka (Literature), Aithihasik (History), Vox Populi (Political Science), Eidos (Sociology), The Catchphrase (Mass Media),The Michronicle (Microbiology) and Arthniti (Economics).[64]

The Xavier's Press, founded in December 2008, is the monthly student newspaper of St. Xavier's College. It is an initiative of the Student Council and is run entirely by St. Xavier's College undergraduates. It covers events and issues that are important to the general student body.

Alumni and popular culture[edit]

US President, Barack Obama greeting students following a town hall meeting at St. Xavier College in November 2010.

The buildings of St. Xavier's College were used for the song "Kabhi Kabhi Aditi" in the movie Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008).[65] The library of the college was used in the movie Main Hoon Na (2004). The college has also appeared in the movie Kucch To Hai (2003).[66] The college hall has been the location of many film scenes, most popularly Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. One of the first performances in the hall was William Shakespeare's historic play Richard III by the Dramatic Society.[8] On 18 July 2009, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the college on her Mumbai trip as part of the college's 140th anniversary. She conducted an interactive session with its students regarding academics and education.[67][68]

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]

News related to alumni is also covered by the Alumni Association and the The Xaverite[86] newsletter.


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Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]