List of universities in Sri Lanka

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This is a list of higher education institutions in Sri Lanka.


The first institution of modern higher education in the island was established in 1921 as the University College Ceylon; even though there several institutions of vocational education before that. In 1942 the first university was established as the University of Ceylon with several campuses island wide, Colombo (established 1942), Peradeniya (established 1949), Vidyodaya (established 1959), Vidyalankara (established 1959) and Katubedda (established 1972). It was dissolved in 1972 to establish the University of Sri Lanka. Jaffna campus was added to the university in 1974. With the promulgation of the Universities Act. No 16 of 1978, state university status was restored to the 6 separate campuses. University Grants Commission (UGC) was also created to plan and coordinate the state university education. After that, a number of state universities have been created. All these state universities are registered under the University Grants Commission, but a few come under the auspices of ministries other than the Ministry of Higher Education, in which the UGC is a part of.

Most of the state universities depend on funds given by the University Grants Commission, as it is their primary and sometimes only source of funding. Therefore the UGC has a direct control over these universities and administer the undergraduate intake. The UGC is subordinate to the Ministry of Higher Education.

A few other public and private institutes exist which function interdependently. Government has a stake in some of these institutions. The most prominent, is the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT), which formally came under the Ministry of Science & Technology.[1] The General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University was a similar institute but has since been classed as a state university, however under the control of the Ministry of Defense.

Current situation[edit]

In Sri Lanka, the university education is strictly controlled by the government until recently. All the degree-granting universities and most degree-granting institutes in are still government-owned or -funded. However autonomous in theory, only a very few institutes are truly autonomous.Higher Education Ministry's attempt is to enter 2000 best universities of the world but according to the World University Ranking Sri Lankan universities are still far behind the target. [2]

These higher education institutions can be classified under 4 categories. They are:

  • Public institutes contorted by the University Grants Commission
  • Public institutes that are not contorted by the UGC
  • Private non profit institutes
  • Private institutes

Public UGC institutes[edit]

15 state universities and 3 campuses come directly under the authority of University Grants Commission. They are:

Lanka University News

Public non UGC institutes[edit]

Ministry of Education
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training

  • Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration, Colombo
  • National Institute of Education
  • National Institute of Social Development (Established under the NISD Act, No. 41 of 1992)[3]
  • National Institute of Business Management (Established under the NIBM Act, No. 23 of 1976)[4]
  • Institute of Surveying and Mapping (Established under the Act No. 21 of 1969)
  • Institute of Human Resource Advancement (University of Colombo)
  • Institute for Agro-Technology and Rural Sciences, Hambantota (University of Colombo)
  • Ocean University of Sri Lanka (Established under the Act No. 36 of 1999)

Private non-profit institutions[edit]

Operating as non-profit institutions, these award their own degrees with consent of the UGC.

Private institutes[edit]

These institutes are affiliates of foreign institutes, granting degrees from these institutes.

Research institutes[edit]

Professional charters[edit]

These charter award professional qualification which are recognized as an entry qualification for postgraduate degrees.

See also[edit]