Daigaku-besso were facilities affiliated to the Daigaku-ryo (the government facility established in the eighth century to educate students who were to become bureaucrats). However, they were operated by their founder families, and not controlled by Daigaku-ryo.
Students of the Daigaku-ryo lived in a dormitory called 'Jikiso' inside the Daigaku-ryo as a general rule (although living in Jikiso was not imperative, the fact that there was a code of living for the students of the Daigaku-ryo implies it had a policy to control student life, which would be connected to the Jogan-shiki Code that will be mentioned later). In the Heian period, the Sugawara clan who succeeded to the position of Monjo-hakase (professor at the Daigaku-ryo) for many generations established the Monjoin as the Jikiso (it is also said to have been an expanded old one). Later, as the position of the Monjo-hakase rose in status, and the Sugawara clan continued to succeed to the role, the Sugawara clan's dominance over the Monjoin and its students became even more stronger. Reacting against this situation, other powerful clans built their own dormitories outside the Daigaku-ryo one after the other. These dormitories were called Daigaku-besso to distinguish them from the Monjoin which was a Jikiso of the Daigaku-ryo. At first, the Imperial court thought this situation was unfair to the students, so it inserted the statement that 'no student who lives outside the dormitory of the Daigaku-ryo can be recommended to be an officer' into the Jogan-shiki Code (a book of laws and regulations compiled in the Jogan Era). The Kangakuin of the Fujiwara clan is thought to have gained the Imperial court's approval as a Daigaku-besso because FUJIWARA no Yoshifusa and other members of the Fujiwara clan fought back against the setback.
Only the students of the Daigaku-ryo (or students preparing for entrance to it) were allowed to live in a Daigaku-besso which was a dormitory equipped with a library and a room to study, and the students had to attend the Daigaku-ryo to take classes and examinations. Although later, in the Meiji period, the remark that Daigaku-besso were 'private schools' was published in Yasutsugu SHIGENO's 'Honpo Korai Kyoiku no Taigai' (Overview of the Education of Ancient Japan), this is not borne out by the facts, because there is no record that Daigaku-besso had specialist teachers to give lectures, and at that time there were kinds of 'shijuku' (private tutoring schools at teachers' homes) that corresponded to private schools, where teachers in the Daigaku-ryo or reputed scholars provided lectures (example: Kanke Roka School of the Sugawara clan).
The uji no choja (the head of the clan) or the Zejo (the title of the chieftain of a clan especially the Tachibana clan) of each clan managed its Daigaku-besso which was neither an official dormitory nor controlled by the Daigaku-ryo, but later their students were given a special privilege (called 'Nenkyo') to take a bureaucratic post without sitting for appointment examinations for Shoen (manors) or the Daigaku-ryo. Over time Daigaku-besso declined to such an extent that they became only a form as the power of other clans decreased, with the exception of the Kangakuin of the Fujiwara clan. Although most Daigaku-besso (including Shogakuin) became merely titles, during Inseiki (the period of the cloister government), a title 'Junnain Shogakuin Ryoin Betto' (the principal of both Junnain and Shogakuin) was created along with the Junnain, the Goin (palace of the retired Emperor) of the retired Emperor Junna, as a post for successive Genji Choja (chiefs of the Minamoto clan), and this title later became one of the titles of samurai families, such as Ashikaga Shogun and Tokugawa Shogun.
List of Daigaku-besso
(In order of establishment)
Kangakuin (Daigaku Nanso): Established by the Fujiwara clan in 821, and officially approved in or prior to 872.
A facility belonging to the Fujiwara clan
Enmeiin (a hospital for the Fujiwara clan managed by Kangakuin)
Gakkanin: Established by TACHIBANA no Kachiko and TACHIBANA no Ujikimi in or prior to 847, and which was officially approved in 964.
A facility belonging to the Tachibana clan