As soon as the Province of Bihar and Orissa was organised a public demand arose for the setting up of a university at Patna. In response to this demand the Government of Bihar and Orissa submitted to the Government of India a proposal for constituting a Committee to work out a scheme for setting up a university in the new Province. In May 1913, the Patna University Committee was appointed with R. Nathan, C.I.E., C.S.I., as President and J.G. Jennings, officiating Director of Public Instruction, Bihar and Orissa, A.G. Wright, Director of Public Instruction of the Central Provinces, the Hon’ble Raja Rajendra Narayan Bhanj Deo of Kanika, the Hon’ble Mr. Madhusudan Das, C.I.E., the Hon’ble Rai Sheo Shankar Sahay Bahadur, C.I.E., the Hon’ble Khan Bahadur Saiyed Muhammad Fakhr-ud-din, the Hon’ble Babu Dwarka Nath, Saiyed Nurul Huda, Barrister-at-Law, Sachchidananda Sinha, Barrister-at-Law, W.A.J. Archbold, Principal, Dacca College, C. Russel, officiating Principal, Patna College, R.W.F. Shaw, Principal, Ravenshaw College, the Rev. S.L. Thompson, Principal, St. Columba’s College, Hazaribagh, D.N. Sen, Principal, Bihar National College, Bankipur, V.H. Jackson, Professor of Physics, Patna College, and K.S. Caldwell, Professor of Chemistry, Patna College, as members, and P.C. Tallents as Secretary.
The terms of reference to the Committee were:
The University being intended for the benefit of the whole province, the needs of all parts of the country, and of all sections of the people, should receive careful attention;
Provision should be made for a university at Patna, or at some convenient place in its neighbourhood, of the teaching and residential type, and for the affiliation to this central institution of colleges situated in other places;
The scheme should not involve any such additional costs to the students as would discourage them from taking full advantage of the facilities to be offered.
This Committee held its first meeting on 16 July, 1913 and submitted its report in March 1914. It recommended the establishment of a central institution at Patna which would undertake the higher branches of instruction, conduct the examinations, supervise the general life and training of the students and regulate the teaching and organization of a number of incorporated colleges. The central institution was recommended to be located at Phulwarisharif, west of the New Capital, and it was to consist of Patna College, Biseswar College (Bihar National College), King’s College, Mission College, a Non-Collegiate Department, a Sanskrit College and a Training College for teachers. Provision was to be made for the instruction of 950 students in the Faculty of Arts, 410 students in the Faculty of Science, 190 students in the Faculty of Law and 32 students in the Faculty of Education. It is surprising that the Committee did not envisage the establishment of the Faculties of Engineering and Medicine which were so very essential for the development of the new Province. The then existing Colleges at Cuttack, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur and Hazaribagh, but not the College at Monghyr were to be affiliated to the Patna University. Out of the five non-official Biharee members of the Committee, Mr. Sachchidanand Sinha was the most important person. These members suggested that the Government should keep in view the establishment, at no distant date, of colleges for imparting education in Medicine, Engineering, Commerce, Agriculture and Technology. Even these members could not visualise the importance of setting up a Veterinary College here. The Indian Industrial Commission proposed to establish the General Technological Institute at Patna, but no effective steps were taken to translate the recommendation into action.
According to the majority of the members of the Committee Honours, Mastership and science teaching above the Intermediate standard were to be imparted at Patna only and by the University itself. The capital cost of the whole project was estimated at Rs. 95,33,000/-, the recurring cost was to be nearly Rs. 11,50,000/-. Of this nearly half the amount was to be realised through tuition fees, etc. and the remaining Rs. 6,00,000/- to be granted by the Government. When the Committee made these recommendations it could not foresee that the Government would face a serious financial crisis on account of the outbreak of the First World War. It is a pity that the estimates of expenditure both recurring and non-recurring, were not favourably considered by the Government and much of the ambitious projects of starting a University with a residential bias had therefore to be given up.
The Nathan Committee proposed that the University should have a whole-time officer as Vice-Chancellor. The Body corresponding to the Senate was to be called the Convocation and it was to be vested with the power of dealing with general questions and of framing the regulations. The executive body of the University was to be called the Council consisting of the Vice-Chancellor, two ex-officio members, the Principals of all Colleges, whether internal or external, the Dean of Non-Collegiate students, six members of the staff nominated by the Chancellor and seven persons elected by the Convocation. The Committee wanted to make this Council the supreme body in the University as it laid down that the decision of the Council was not to be subject to revision by the Convocation. Some of the features of the original Bill introduced by Sir Sankaran Nair, the member-in-charge of Education in the Governor-General’s Council, were based on the recommendations of the Nathan Committee.