Estd. in 1879

First Women's College in Asia



Reaccredited at the 'A' Level by NAAC (Cycle 2), 2015


NIRF Ranking

Secured 88th rank natonally in NIRF ranking 2020 under college category


DBT Star College

Received financial support under the DBT Star College Scheme of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India in 2020
Institutional Distinctiveness

As a college that was established primarily because a student wanted to study further, Bethune College, has always had students at its core, defining and distinctively shaping an institution of national repute in its long journey of 141 years. Students, past and present, give to this heritage institution its unique character.

Bethune College Alumni Association, Sammilani, an autonomous body, has always taken a keen interest in the activities of the College and extends its best efforts for the betterment of the Institution and its learners. The members, besides coming up with ideas about the welfare and upliftment of the College, also come forward with financial assistance whenever needed and participate in the cultural and academic activities of the college. Alumni website:

One of the key contributions of the Alumni Association of Bethune College has been making it possible for Calcutta University to recognize Chandramukhi's rare achievement of being the first woman passing the F.A. Examination in 1877. Again, Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar's gift, the signed copy of Collected Works of Shakespeare, was traced in Dehradun, the ancestral home of Smt Chandramukhi Basu and restored to Bethune College in 2015 by the members of Sammilani.

In the recent past, we have past students like Dr Aditi Sen De and Dr. Neena Gupta who have won the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize. Our students achieve several ranks at the University level examinations every year, carrying forward the legacy of their illustrious seniors. They excel in Sports, Priyadarshini Das, an ex student, being a National Level Table Tennis Player.

The college that was established with a vision of empowering women with education has indeed shaped generations of students equipped not only to engage with the world around them but to effect changes for the better. The presence of an apolitical Students' body, rare of its kind, adds to the affable atmosphere in the College. Students work harmoniously with the College administration and the Teacher's Council for the sustenance and enhancement of the academic and cultural ethos of the College.


Best Practices of the Institution

Best Practice I

  1. Title of the Practice
    Organising Seminars on luminaries of the Bengal Renaissance.
  2. Objective of the Practice
    The main objective has been to bring into being a generation of Indian women who, inspired by their glorious heritage would combine dignity with forthrightness, have minds that are truly illuminated, and can become dynamic, mature and large hearted citizens of the world in the truest sense of the term. It is our goal that the pupils of this College should not only have a deep human commitment, and hearts where there is a place for all, but be able to create a space for themselves transcending their subaltern status.
  3. The Context
    Change is the only constant thing in the world, and this is perhaps truer for the present moment than for any other moment of history. Today, with the technological explosion, India is passing through a crucial transitional phase. Whether in communication or education, in professional opportunities or lifestyle, we witness a radical change. A change is seen even in those basic human values which are non-ephemeral. An uncritical fascination with the Occident is seducing our best brains westward. Nostalgia should never be overpowering but we think the students of Bethune College must be cognizant of the rich heritage not only of their college but also of West Bengal and India. Since Bethune College is no ordinary institute but the first Women's college in this part of the world it is only natural that its pupils should not only be made aware of their glorious legacy but be encouraged to carry it forward.
  4. The Practice
    In Bethune College, instructive Seminars are regularly held to commemorate the birth centenary and sesquicentennial birth anniversary of luminaries, many of them being leading figures of the Bengal Renaissance. On certain occasions exhibitions are also arranged in order to give the students a feel of the time and familiarise them with the lives of these great men and women. Commemorative volumes are also published and an issue of the Annual College magazine is dedicated to these luminaries. Bethune College, the first Women's college in this part of the world, has a rich heritage and claims among its alumna such illustrious women as Pritilata Wadder (born 1911). She was, according to recorded history, the only woman after the Great Revolt of 1857 to embrace death for the cause of freedom. The College under the aegis of the Higher Education Department, Government of West Bengal, organised a year-long celebration in 2010-11 to commemorate her centenary. The celebration included the inauguration of Pritilata Bhavan by the then Chief minister of the State. A star-studded International Seminar "Pritilata, Bethune College and the Revolutionary Movement in Colonial Bengal" was organised An exhibition and a Students' Seminar was also held. The closing ceremony was marked by the publication of a commemorative volume entitled "They Dared: Essays in honour of Pritilata Wadder" in 2011.

    It is also a matter of great pride for the College that the first two women graduates of Calcutta University, Chandramukhi Basu and Kadambini Ganguly were students of Bethune College. Chandramukhi Basu completed her post-graduation from Calcutta University in 1884 and then became the Principal of Bethune College. Kadambini Ganguly studied medicine and became the first Indian lady doctor in 1886 after being awarded a GBMC (Graduate of Bengal Medical College). It was decided to pay homage to these pioneers of women's education in India on their 150th birth anniversary, and a seminar sponsored by the Higher Education Department, Government of West Bengal was held on September 9, 2010, jointly with Sammilani, the Alumnae Association of Bethune College. Informative and enlightening lectures were presented by experts not only on the life and works of both these illustrious women but also on female doctors and women's health. A commemorative volume entitled "Alor Sarani Beye" (Along the Illumined Path) was published (2011) containing essays not only on these two path-finder women but many distinguished members of the Bethune alumnae.

    The pioneering scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy's 150th birth anniversary was commemorated with a one day Seminar and an inter-college quiz competition on 10.12. 2010. The speakers presented their views on the works of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy and discussed concepts related to Chemistry for the edification of students.

    The 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was marked by a grand seminar sponsored by the Higher Education Department, Government of West Bengal on 2.2. 2013. Enlightening presentations were made by specialists and experts focusing on the life, teachings and contribution of Swamiji in various fields. An essay competition on the life and works of Swami Vivekananda was also organised for the students. The students actively participated in the competition and the winning entries were later published in the College Magazine Adiganta.

    Seminars, invited lectures and cultural programmes were also organised to pay tribute to the world renowned Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore to mark his 150th birth anniversary. A UGC sponsored Seminar was organised on "Rabindranath Tagore in Translation" on 24.9.2013. The lectures in the seminar were concerned with translations of Tagore both by himself and by others, in languages ranging from English and Hindi to Chinese and Japanese. Eminent Sanskrit Scholar Professor Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri deliberated on how Sanskrit chant words influenced Tagore. The students and faculty were truly enlightened by the lesser known aspects of translation which were discussed in the seminar.

    The 150th birth anniversary of Sir Asutosh Mukherjee was celebrated with a seminar sponsored by the Higher Education Department, Government of West Bengal on December 14, 2013. Bethune College was identified as the zonal centre for all colleges in Calcutta and Howrah by the Higher Education Department and consequently it was the responsibility of the College to conduct an inter-college essay competition related to Sir Asutosh Mukherjee. Students from all colleges actively participated in the competition. Sir Asutosh Mukherjee dedicated himself to the cause of education and amelioration of the society through education. He was also a reputed lawyer and mathematician and established the Calcutta Mathematical Society in 1908. These different facets of Sir Asutosh Mukherjee were discussed in the course of the seminar by speakers from diverse spheres. The seminar and the essay competition made it possible for the students to be acquainted with this luminary of the Bengal Renaissance.

    In keeping with the aim of acquainting our students with their rich heritage, Bethune College organises a memorial lecture to honour the memory of John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, the founding father of the Institution, every year on the 12th of August. Bethune was an immensely important figure during the Bengal Renaissance for ushering in the era of women's empowerment through education. Eminent scholars belonging to various walks of life deliver enlightening talks on this occasion every year. These lectures have served and will continue to serve as a rich source of enlightenment and edification for our students. These lectures, seminars, exhibitions and commemorative volumes give the students the required exposure - over and above classroom study - to a range of issues which have both direct reference to current social, political and ideological questions and remind them of their invaluable heritage.
  5. Evidence of Success
    Our pupils have proved that they have been inspired by the glorious example set by these great men and women. By enthusiastically participating in creative writing competitions they have shown that they welcome progress and revere their heritage. These well-researched articles written by the pupils reveal both a desire to understand the teachings of Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda, two of the greatest Indians and to enrich their own lives by emulating their examples as far as possible. We are confident that our pupils will be able to clear a space for themselves transcending their marginalised status as women and amalgamate Western and Eastern values into a new, imaginative synthesis.
  6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required
    It is difficult to acquaint the students with their rich historical past in the presence of an ever changing present. The College strives to inculcate the fast disappearing moral values of compassion, humility, industriousness and tolerance in our pupils'minds so that they become better human beings in the truest sense of the term. We require an active participation from the student community, a fully equipped seminar hall with audiovisual aids and trained personnel for handling the audiovisual equipments and more generous allocation of funds.

Best Practice II

  1. Title of the Practice
    Conservation and documentation of wild biodiversity in the College campus and establishment of medicinal plant garden within the College campus.
  2. Objectives of the Practice
    • Conservation of wild, ornamental, rare and endangered species. This helps in inculcating the interest, awareness and responsibility towards our environment and its protection for sustainable development and also to maintain greenery in our campus.
    • Establishment of medicinal plant garden which is beneficial for generating attention and responsiveness among students, to popularise the values of medicinal plants for primary healthcare.
  3. The Context
    • Qualitative and quantitative study of floral and faunal components in and around the College campus.
    • Vegetational mapping and tree profiling of Canopy Cover.
    • Cytological study of a few species of Ficus with Barcoding, some of them are important niche for fruit bat and rock bee population.
    • Preservation of voucher specimens (plants) in the College Herbarium including photo documentation of biodiversity components identified in the College campus and surroundings.
    • Endeavour to establish a medicinal plant garden of at least 20 medicinal plants.
  4. The Practice
    The wild flora and fauna in the College campus and its surroundings have already been documented as a first step towards its conservation. Some plants already existed in the College campus and some more have been planted. Voucher specimens (plants) have been preserved in the College herbarium and Digital photo Documentation of Biodiversity components identified in the College campus and its surroundings have been done. An attempt has also been made to utilise tissue culture methods (micropropagation) to develop some over exploited medicinal plants (like Bacopamonnieri, common name Brahmi) which would protect these from getting depleted due to continuous extraction of active principles from such plants. Some important medicinal plants are planted and maintained in flowering pots.
  5. Evidence of Success
    It has been possible to document more than 30 plants, some of which are roosting sites of fruit bats and nesting areas of squirrels, crows, mynas, bees and ants. A medicinal plant garden has been established within the College campus where some species of medicinal plants like the Murraya exotica L., Herpestes monnieria (L.) Kunth, Rauvolfia serpentina (L) Benth., Rauvolfia tetraphylla L., Kaempferia galanga L., Rhoeo discolor L. are maintained.
  6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required
    • Lack of land areas with proper sunlight throughout the day is an impediment for proper growth of the plants.
    • Lack of enough resources including skilled labour and fund to develop and maintain the medicinal plant garden in a large scale is another problem faced by the College.
    • Efforts are being made to upgrade the tissue culture laboratory in the College which would be beneficial for in-vitro conservation of the plants.




Our Achievers

Some of our eminent achievers

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Illustrious Alumna

Illustrious Alumna of Bethune College, Kolkata 19th century- 20th century

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