Netaji Subhas Open University is the premier State Open University in India. The year 1997 was the birth centenary year of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The Chief Minister of West Bengal made an announcement at a State function that an Open University would be set up soon and dedicated to Netaji's hallowed memory. The Higher Education Minister, Govt. of West Bengal spearheaded the idea after his visit to the Open University in U.K. Under his instruction was set up a ten-member steering committee headed by late Dr. Bhaskar Ray Chowdhury, former Vice-Chancellor of Kolkata University.
Following this, a State Act (W.B. Act (XIX) of 1997 and Recognised by U.G.C.) was passed on the 20th August 1997 in favour of opening a University for imparting Distance Education. Netaji Subhas Open University was established by bifurcated Netaji Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) and in terms of the Act of West Bengal State Legislative Assembly and is housed in Historic building of Sri Sarat Chandra Bose, elder brother of Netaji. The University started functioning with effect from July 1998 Semester, only with the Bachelor's Degree Programme in Arts & Commerce to provide an opportunity of higher education in the vernacular medium to various disadvantaged groups of aspiring learners. It is the tenth Open University of the country and the ninth State Open University.
Professor Radharaman Chakraborty, the then Director of NIAS was appointed as the first Vice Chancellor of NSOU. An Advisory body, consisting of eminent educationists and senior administrators was constituted to plan and oversee the activity of the newly opened University. They executed the preliminary set-up necessary for the functioning of the Open University and from July 1998, 31 Study Centres started functioning under Netaji Subhas Open University with a Bachelor Degree Programme (BDP) in Arts & Commerce. Since January 1999 semester further 5 study centres were opened with Arts & Commerce Courses under the BDP.
The University started Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Science subjects from January, 2000 session.
The Post Graduate Degree Programme in Science subject(Mathematics) and Arts Subjects (History and Social Work) were started in January,2002 and January, 2004 session respectively.
The second Vice-Chancellor of NSOU is Professor Surabhi Banerjee who took over charge on 17th November 2001. She is also the first lady Vice-Chancellor of NSOU. She handed over her charge as Vice-Chancellor to Shri Joydeep Sil, the then Registrar of the University, on 15.05.2008.
Shri Joydeep Sil officiated as Vice-Chancellor (15.05.2008 to 27.10.2008).
The third Vice-Chancellor: Professor Manimala Das (27.10.2008 to 31.7.2011).
The fourth Vice-Chancellor: Professor Subha Sankar Sarkar (since 01.08.2011).