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The University of Colombo (UoC), is the largest university in Sri Lankamarker, based primarily in Colombomarker. Considered to be the oldest higher education institution in country it was founded as the University College Colombo in 1921, however it traces its roots to 1870.


The University of Colombo occupy of prime land in the heart of the city. The administrative center of the university is the College House with its period architecture.

Its motto is "Buddhih Sarvatra Bhrajate" which means "Wisdom shines forth everywhere".

The playground and gymnasium offer sportsmen and women the opportunity to develop their abilities.The the old King George's Hall and the New Arts Theatre are the arena for drama and music.


Ceylon Medical College
The origins of the University of Colombo begins with the establishment of the Ceylon Medical School in June 1870. In 1880 the school was raised to the status of college, thus becoming the Ceylon Medical College which permitted it to award the Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery (LMS). In 1889 the College was recognized by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom when holders of its license became eligible to practice in Great Britain.

University College Colombo
The Ceylon University Association (CUA), formed in 1906 by a group of western educated elite, urged the establishment of a local university. Owing to the persistent demands of the CUA the colonial government decided in 1913 to set up a University College.

However, arguments regarding the nature and status of the institution to be set up, its location and the start of World War I halted the establishment process until 1920 when the government purchased a private house called the Regina Walawwa which later came to be known as College House for the purpose of setting up the University College under the recommendations of Sir Edward Denham. The University College Colombo was formally declared open in January 1921 in the building that was originally the main building of Royal College Colombomarker located on Thurstan Road opposite College House. The University College prepared students for University of London external degrees and was regarded as only a preliminary step, the ultimate goal being the establishment of a fully fledged degree granting university.

The University of Ceylon was established on 1 July 1942 by the Ceylon University Ordinance No.20 of 1942. The University was to be located in Peradeniyamarker and was to be unitary, residential and autonomous. With the establishment of the University, the two Colleges, the Ceylon Medical College and the Ceylon University College, lost their separate identities and were absorbed into the new institution.

University of Ceylon Colombo, Colombo Campus
The announcement of the creation of a separate university in Colombo was made in Parliament in the Throne Speech of 1967. The necessary legislation for this purpose had been prepared by the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs under section 34 of the Higher Education Act No. 20 of 1966 on the recommendation of the National Council of Higher Education. The new institution which came into existence on 1 October 1967 with the Colombo Campus as its nucleus had initially a student population of nearly 5000 reading for degrees in Arts, Law, the Sciences and Medicine and a teaching staff of nearly 300.

The University of Ceylon Act No. 1 of 1972, which replaced the Higher Education Act of 1966 altered the complexion of the hitherto familiar University structure. The four independent autonomous universities (University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, University of Ceylon, Colombo, Vidyodaya University of Ceylon and Vidyalankara University of Ceylon) which had been set up by then and the Ceylon College of Technology at Katubedda became campuses of a single university styled the University of Sri Lanka. Its headquarters designated Senate House was located in Colombo. This arrangement did not last very long. With the promulgation of the Universities Act. No 16 of 1978, university status was again restored to the Campuses and the Colombo Campus of the University of Sri Lanka was renamed the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Governance and administration

The UoC is a state university and depends on the government for much of its annual grant, which is provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC). Due to this its administration is heavily influenced by the UGC.

The University's administration is based upon that of the former University of Ceylon consisting of a dual structure of bodies: the Council (formally known as the University Court which is the governing body) and the Academic Senate (academic affairs).

Much of the appointments to officers and faculty are carried out by these bodies, however on the recommendations of the UGC which are ignored.

Officers of the university


The Chancellor is the head of the University and awards all degrees, although this duty is generally carried out by the Vice-Chancellor, appointed by the UGC. The Chancellor is Most Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis, the Archbishop of Colombo.

Day-to-day management of the University is undertaken by the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor is Professor S.S.M.K. Kshanika Hirimburegama who replaced Professor Prof. T. Hettiarachchy in 2007.

There are also the Registrar, The Rector, Sri Palee Campus and Deans of the Faculties.Dr Tudor Weerasinghe (Acting)


Former institutes

List of Chancellors

University of Ceylon & University of Sri Lanka

University of Colombo

List of Vice-Chancellors

University College

University of Ceylon

University of Ceylon, Colombo
  • Walwin A. de Silva (1968-1969)
  • Prof. B.A. Abeywickrema (1969-1972)

University of Sri Lanka
  • Prof. B.A. Abeywickrema (1972-1974)
  • Dr. L.H. Sumanadasa (1974)
  • Prof. P.P.G.L. Siriwardena (1974-1978)

University of Colombo
  • Prof. Stanley Wijesundera (1978-1988)
  • Prof. G.L. Peiris (1988-1994)
  • Prof. N. Kodagoda (1994)
  • Prof. W.D. Lakshman (1994-1999)
  • Prof. Savitri Goonesekere (1999-2002)
  • Prof. T. Hettiarachchy (2002-2007)
  • Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama (2007- incumbent)

Notable alumni

Notable staff

Partner universities


  1. "About University of Colombo"
  2. Academic of UoC
  3. Coup of 1962: an inside story

External links

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