According to UGC’s Policy Frame 1978, ‘Extension’ has been recognized as Third dimension of Higher Education in addition to Teaching and Research. The UGC has established a separate Extension Departments in over 120 Universities in India. The proposal for establishment of a Department of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension at Bharathidasan University was formulated by Dr. K. Chellappan, Former Prof. & Head, Department of English, under the advice of Dr. A. Gnanam, then Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1984-85. The UGC accepted the proposal to establish the Department of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension in Bharathidasan University during 1985-86. Accordingly, the Department of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension as an Academic and Non-Vacation Department at Bharathidasan University was established during the year 1985-86.
Dr. N. Thilainayagam of Gandhigram Rural Institute, Gandhigram, was appointed as the first (Assistant) Director and Head of the Department. He served in the Department from December, 1986 to March, 1988. He initiated and executed the Adult Education & Population Education Programmes in few affiliated colleges by utilizing the funds given by UGC, New Delhi. Then the responsibility was given to the then NSS Co-ordintor, Prof. H. Md. Salahudheen, by the then Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University Dr. S. Muthukumaran. Prof. Salahudheen took the responsibility of Assistant Director and Head of the Department as an additional charge upto 8th April 1989. He could not concentrate on any new initiatives but took follow-up work of the Adult Education activities initiated by the former Assistant Director. Dr. S. Muthukumaran, Vice-Chancellor took initiative to give importance and accelerate the function of the Department and made it as full-fledged research department. Dr. K. Parthasarathy was appointed as Assistant Director and Head on 9th April, 1989. He was later promoted as Professor & Director from 10th April, 1995 onwards. He was also given additional responsibilities for execution of University Level Major Schemes/ Projects on NSS, Youth Red Cross, Campus Diversity Initiative, Placement Cell, Cultural Co-ordinator, Co-ordinator for Extension and Co-curriculum (earlier known as Part-IV to UG students), Head i/c, Department of Social Work and Founder Director, Institute for Entrepreneurship and Career Development (IECD) by the successive Vice-chancellors of the University.
The Department is one of the three Departments in Indian Universities to have facilities for M. Phil., and Ph.D., in Adult, Continuing Education and Extension. It is a multi-disciplinary programme. Dr. P. Jagadeesan, the then Vice-Chancellor was instrumental in introducing the M.Phil., in Adult & Continuing Education. The Department has produced 15 Ph.Ds. & 8 M.Phils. All the Ph.D., holders are well placed at National and International level. Presently 10 scholars are pursuing their Ph.D. in the Department. Five of our Ph.D., scholars received UGC’s JRFs. The main focus of research are on adult literacy, non-formal education, linking literacy with population education, students and teachers in extension education, community development, health & sanitation/nutrition, herbal medicine in hill area, sex education, empowerment of women self-help group, human resource development/management and rural extension technology etc.,. In over 25 years of the history, the Department has undertaken 12 minor research projects and 15 major research projects funded by various funding agencies like UGC, ICSSR, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Dept. of Youth Affairs & Sports, TN NSS Cell, IRCS, TN Branch, Bharathidasan University, Ford Foundation, TNPL, Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society and UNAIDS-APAC.