Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU), named after the famous Tamil Scholar Professor P. Sundaram Pillai, was established on 7 September, 1990 to cater to the long felt needs of the people of the three southern most districts of Tamil Nadu namely Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari. The University has under its jurisdiction 61 affiliated colleges, 5 Mano Colleges and 1 Constituent College, with 65,000 students on rolls. These colleges, amongst which three are over 100 years old (St. John’s College, M.D.T. Hindu College, Sarah Tucker College, the oldest women’s college in the state), have contributed decisively to the cause of higher education of this region.
There are 24 academic departments in the University. Sri Paramakalyani Centre for Environmental Sciences functioning at Alwarkurichi is an illustrious example of University-Industry collaboration while the Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Rajakkamangalam is breaking new ground in Coastal Area Studies. All the University departments are receiving research projects from several funding agencies in India, Europe, USA, Japan and UNO. The University Library has rich collection of books and journals on a wide range of subjects. The courses offered by the University have been designed keeping in mind the changing times and the emerging needs of the region. The University offers post-graduate, M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes (part time and full time). MSU is the first to offer Choice-Based Credit System. The University’s National Service Scheme and Youth Welfare Department provide opportunities for the students to develop their overall personality.
The University Grants Commission, New Delhi, an apex higher education body of the Union Government, has accorded its approval for getting financial assistance since 29 March 1994. The University has been accredited by National Assessment and Accreditation Council of India with five star status. The University Act authorizes the functioning of Directorate of Distance and Continuing Education outside the university jurisdiction and the courses offered through this mode are recognized by the Distance Education Council of India.
The concept of community colleges, being experimented under the aegis of a special wing, offer diploma courses of one year duration to those interested in entrepreneurial enterprises and the Extension Learning Programme run by this wing also offers diploma and certificate courses on skill development.