There are three distinct phases in the evolution of the University.
In the first phase (1887 to 1921), it was a centrally-funded Affiliating University exercising jurisdiction over higher and secondary education in a wide area in northern and central India, comprising the present-day States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In 1905 it initiated teaching and research under its ownaegis, by establishing the Departments of Law (1905), Economics (1908) History (1912), research fellowships, libraries and laboratories. The eminence of the faculty of its teaching Departments, the Muir Central College (the premier affiliate, founded in 1873 at Allahabad) and several other reputed Affiliated Colleges, earned high regard for the University within and outside India. Some of the Colleges themselves matured into Universities the Banaras Hindu University (1916), the Aligarh Muslim University (1920) and the Lucknow and Nagpur Universities (1920 and 1923).
The second phase (1921-1950) began with the reorganization of the University as a provincially-funded unitary teaching University, comprising its own teaching Departments and the Departments of the Muir Central College (which was merged with the University,). The other Affiliated Colleges were initially grouped under the External Wing of the University and then handed over (in 1927) to the newly-incorporated, University of Agra in 1927, and the responsibility for secondary education was transferred (in 1922) to the U. P Board of High School and Intermediate Education. In the ensuing three decades, under the stewardship of celebrated Vice-Chancellors (Sir Ganganatha Jha, Pt. Iqbal Narain Gurtu, Prof. Amaranatha Jha and Prof. Tara Chand) and the academic leadership of illustrious faculty, the University took determined steps to enlarge its intellectual and educational ambit and gave a lead in national emancipation. Several teachers and students played a prominent role in the national struggle, particularly from 1930, and the University solemnly recalls with pride the martyrdom of its student Lal Padmadhar Singh during the Quit India Movement.
The scholars who gave a distinctive flavour to the academic ambience of the University, from its first venture into teaching in 1905, are too numerous to be named individually, and included such legendary figures as Amaranatha Jha, Raghupati Sahai "Firaq", S. C. Deb and P. E. Dastoor (English), H. N. Randle, R. D. Ranade and A. C. Mukerji (Philosophy), L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan, R. P. Tripathi (History), Syed Muhammad Ali Nami and M. G. Zubaid Ahmad (Arabic and Persian), P. K. Acharya, Babu Ram Saxena and Kshetresh Chandra Chattopadhyaya (Sanskrit), Dhirendra Verma, Devi Prasad Shukla and Ram Kumar Verma (Hindi), Syed M. Zamin Ali and Muhammad Hafiz Syed (Urdu), Beni Prasad, Tara Chand, Ishwari Prasad (all three being historians of repute) and A. B. Lal (Politica Science), R. N. Dubey (Geography), P. S. Naidu (Education), Meghnad Saha, K. S Krishnan, D. S. Kothari, Salig Ram Bhargava, R. N. Ghosh G. B. Deodhar and K Banerjee (Physics), N. R Dhar, Satyeshwar Ghosh and Satya Prakash (Chemistry), A C. Banerji, Gorakh Prasad, P. L. Srivastava and B. N. Prasad (Mathematics), J. H. Mitter, Shri Ranjan, R. K. Saxena and R. N. Tandon (Botany), D. R. Bhattacharya and H. R. Mehra (Zoology), H. Stanley Jevons, S. K. Rudra, C. D. Thompson, B. P. Adarka and J. K. Mehta (Economics), M. K. Ghosh and R. C. Choudhury (Commerce) and J C. Weir, M. U. S. Jung, K. K. Bhattacharya, K. R. R. Sastry and T. N. Sapru (Law) During this "Golden Age", the University was often referred to as "the Oxford of the East".
The third phase (from 1950) was pre-figured by the stirring address of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to the Diamond Jubilee Convocation (1947) of the University, with a timeless invocation on the meaning and purpose of a University and the role the Universities had to play in ensuring the development and progress of India and the well-being of mankind. With the advent of Independence, the University gave priority to the rising expectations of the people for wider access to higher education and keeping pace with the world in higher education, took up concerns crucial to national and social reconstruction. The Seventieth Anniversary Celebrations (1957) were marked by the affirmation to concert intellectual resources for exploring new academic, educational and social horizons while conserving its classical heritage. The Centenary Celebrations (1987) provided the opportunity to reaffirm the goal 01 academic modernization predicated on social responsibility
The University did, however, face difficulties in mobilising resources for the pursuit and fulfilment of its intents and objectives. This paved the way for a concerted campaign, which began with the Seventieth Anniversary and was re-invigorated from the Centenary Celebrations, for the re-incorporation of the University as a Central University. These efforts, which were immeasurably, strengthened by the support of the Alumni in different fields of national life, bore fruit in 2005, with the adoption by Parliament of "The University of Allahabad Act, 2005", and its enforcement on July 14, 2005.
This restoration of the original Central Status has inaugurated a new Chapter in the evolution of the University, and occasioned a fresh resolve to realize its earlier stature as an internationally acclaimed institution of higher learning. The University is now poised for exploring new dimensions of institutional accomplishment, by renovating its academic system, reinforcing and augmenting its teaching, research and residential facilities and pursuing social purposes in a coordinated manner, to keep pace with international standards in these areas and endow human resource with the capabilities to serve the nation in the special context of the challenges and imperatives of globalization