The Government College, Tumkur was established in 1940 as an Intermediate College. In 1948, the Intermediate College was converted into a Government College. In 1966, the College acquired a new building in the outskirts of Tumkur with an 80-acre campus. Owing to the overwhelming pace of growth, the College was bifurcated in 1974 into Government Arts College and Government Science College. In 2009, Tumkur University recognised the College as a constituent college of the University and renamed it 'University College of Arts'.
Over the years, the institution has been offering courses in Arts & Commerce. The college has a dedicated and qualified team of teachers. At present, the college has nearly 42 teaching, and 20 non-teaching staff. Nearly 3000 students are pursuing their education in the Arts and Commerce streams. Situated in a sprawling 25-acre plot, the college houses 25 spacious lecture halls, a very well equipped library with more than 50,000 titles and 55,000 volumes of books on different disciplines, along with journals, magazines, newspapers and a spacious reading and reference section. The college is a pioneer in delivering quality education and is arguably among the most prestigious colleges affiliated to Tumkur University. Among its alumni are noted bureaucrats, legislators, sportsmen and public figures of great eminence.
The College also boasts of large indoor and outdoor stadia, administered by the Youth Services and Sports Department of the Government of Karnataka. The National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme of the College stand out as exemplary units in the entire region.
The College predominantly caters to a non-metropolitan student population who, more often than not, come from marginalised sections of the society. Nearly 60% of its students belong to the SC/ST and BT communities. As such, the entry-level barriers faced by these students are immense and requires dedicated efforts on the part of the institution to cater to the special needs of students, most of whom are first-generation learners. The College has instituted a series of remedial measures including special coaching, vocational education, skill-enhancement programmes and student-capacity building through personality development programmes and outreach and extension activities which provide the much-needed social and cultural reinforcement for students to excel in their academic lives and beyond.