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Anna University (Chennai) comprises four colleges - the College of Engineering (CEG, Guindy Campus), the Alagappa College of Technology (ACT, Guindy Campus), the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT, Chromepet Campus) and the School of Architecture and Planning (SAP, Guindy Campus).

The first version of Anna University was established in 1978 and various governments kept changing the structure of the college and the scope of its affiliation. In 2001, the former Anna University became an affiliated college under the Anna University Amendment Act of 2001, which incorporated all engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu. This included six government engineering colleges, three government-sponsored private institutions, and 426 self-financing colleges.

On February 1, 2007, based on a decision of the Tamil Nadu government, the college was divided into six constituent universities: Anna University, Chennai; Anna University of Technology, Chennai; Anna University of Technology, Tiruchirappalli; Anna University of Technology, Coimbatore; Anna University of Technology Tirunelveli; and Anna University of Technology, Madurai.

The institutes were formally established in 2010. A bill to merge the universities back was passed on September 14, 2011. The merger became legally effective in August 2012.

In 2011 and 2012, the component universities were merged back into a single affiliated college and the four regional universities continue to function as regional campuses of the college.