North-Eastern Hill University was set up by an Act of Parliament and notified on 19th July 1973. The objectives of the University, as laid down in the act, are "to disseminate and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research facilities in such branches of learning as it may deem fit; to pay special attention to the improvement of the social and economic conditions and welfare of the people of the hill areas of the North-eastern region, and in particular, the intellectual, academic and cultural advancement".
The jurisdiction of the University extended originally to the states of Meghalaya and Nagaland and the erstwhile Union Territories of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. With the establishment of the Nagaland University on 6th September 1994, the jurisdiction of NEHU ceased over Nagaland. Likewise with the establishment of the Mizoram University the jurisdiction of NEHU over Mizoram also ceased from June, 2001. Arunachal Pradesh has its own university. However the North-Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology located in Arunachal Pradesh is affiliated to NEHU.