Universities in Sri Lanka


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About universities in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is a South Asian country located on the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent.  A strategic naval link situated in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka, which was known as “Ceylon” until 1972, is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar, and the Palk Strait, and is located in the vicinity of both India and Maldives.  The country was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road and the first nation to record Buddhist teachings in writing.  Today, the majority of the population is still Buddhist and the nation is known to be the oldest continually Buddhist country in the world. Sri Lanka has an estimated population of 20.9 million, making it the 50th most populous country globally.  The majority of the population is Sinhalese, while the Tamils, who are located in the northern and eastern parts of the island, form the largest ethnic minority.  Two official languages exist in the country:  Sinhala and Tamil, with the former used in all official capacities (government, commerce, education, etc.) save for the communities where the Tamil population dominates. The capital and largest city in Sri Lanka is Sri Jayewardenepura.
 
Higher Education in Sri Lanka
 
Higher or tertiary education in Sri Lanka is overseen and regulated by the Ministry of Education, a public body responsible for developing curriculum and formulating educational policy.  Education is compulsory for nine years, encompassing all of primary school and the first three years of secondary school until a student reaches age sixteen.  Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world that has a truly free system of public education, with no tuition required from primary school through tertiary education.  As a result of its excellent system of education, the country has an adult literacy rate of 92.5 percent and a youth literacy rate of approximately 99 percent, both extremely high as compared to other developing nations.
 
Higher education in Sri Lanka is provided by 16 public universities and numerous private degree-awarding institutions, most of which are affiliated with foreign universities abroad. Most of the state-sponsored universities depend heavily on funds provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which is often the only source of funding.  Of the 16 universities, 15 are under the influence of the UGC, while the other is under the Minister of Defense.  There are also 3 UGC-funded university campuses located separately from the university that sponsors them.  Students that have successfully completed secondary education, earning a diploma in the process, are eligible to apply for university admission.  Once admitted they are free to pursue undergraduate (Bachelor), graduate (Master’s) and post graduate (Doctorate) degrees in a variety of academic and professional disciplines, typically spanning four, two and three to five years respectively.  A handful of universities also offer specialty programs for advanced studies, leading to degrees in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and the law.
 
Although the university system in Sri Lanka is one of the finest in the world among developing nations, it continues to face many challenges.  Among these are a lack of responsiveness to labor market requirements, with many graduates being ill-prepared to compete in an ever-increasing global economy; disparities in access to a quality education, particularly between the wealthy and poor; and a lack of an effective linkage between secondary schools and tertiary institutions.  To address these shortfalls, a number of degree-awarding private institutions have been founded in recent years, and although they have proven effective in filling some of these challenging gaps, the country’s participation at the tertiary level of education continues to hover around 5 percent.

List of universities in Sri Lanka

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Contact: University of Ruhuna

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Contact: Wayamba University of Sri Lanka

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