History of the University of Ruhuna

    In October 1977, the Government of Sri Lanka appointed a committee headed by Prof. M. B. Ariyapala to do a feasibility study on the establishment of a university in the Southern Province. In January 1978, the committee recommended the City of Matara, the Commercial Capital of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, as the most suitable location for this purpose.

    The enactment of the Universities Act No. 46 of 1978 enabled the University Grants Commission to establish the Ruhuna University College, fulfilling a long cherished desire and need of the people in Southern Sri Lanka.

    As a result, on August 27th, 1978, the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Hon J.R. Jayawardene declared open the Ruhuna University College at Meddawatta, Matara, with Prof. Mervyn W. Thenabadu as its Director.


    It started in a very humble way with four faculties namely, Agriculture, Humanities and Social Sciences, Medicine and Science.The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences was located at the Teachers' Training College at Eliyakanda, and the Science and Agriculture Faculties were located in the Junior Technical College premises at Meddewatta, Matara. with only about 40 academics, 50 non-academics and 275 students.The medical students admitted to that academic year were sent to the Faculties of Medicine of the Universities of Colombo and Peradeniya for their pre-clinical courses in their first and second years of study.

    A new building complex for the university was designed under the guidance of the world-renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, Edward Reed & Beg Company designed the buildings and the Ballast Nedam Company of the Netherlands completed the construction at all three sites: Wellamadama, Mapalana, and Karapitiya with a unique architectural landscape.

    The Ruhuna University College was shifted to the new premises in 1984 following which it was elevated to full university status.New location was selected for the main campus at Wellamadama, two kilometers from Matara facing Matara-Kataragama main road. The General Administration Offices, the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences and Science were shifted to the Wellamadama Campus in 1985.

    The Wellamadama Campus covers an area of about 72 acres with the buildings of the Faculties of Science and Humanities and Social Sciences, Vice Chancellor's Residence, Guest House and Bachelor Quarters, a Gymnasium, an Outreach Centre, Two Auditoriums, Lecture Theatres, an Administration Block, two Hostels etc.


     While the University of Peradeniya was the first University in Sri Lanka constructed on a sound ecologically friendly plan, the University of Ruhuna became the second and the only university, which was constructed on a sound architectural plan utilizing funds from the Government of Sri Lanka. In the late 1970s the total construction cost was LKR 917.6 million.
    At the inception, the Faculty of Science functioned with only five departments: Botany, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Zoology while the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences with four departments: Sinhala, History, Economics and Geography.
    The Ruhuna University College was upgraded to a fully-fledged university on 1st February 1984 by an order made by the Minister of Education under section 21 and 21(1) of the Universities Act. No. 16 of 1978 published in the Gazette extraordinary dated 24th January 1984 in terms of section 27(2) of the Act.

    The Ruhuna University College On 28th January 2000, Her Excellency the President Chandrika Bandaranayeka Kumaranatunga inaugurated the Faculty of Engineering, which was constructed at a cost of Rs. 600 million at Hapugala, Galle. In 2003, the Faculty of Management and Finance was established initially with two departments. Before that the study programmes in Business Administration had been offered by the Department of Business Administration that used to exist within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Now, it functions with there major departments which cover the wide range of subjects.

    In order to develop distance education programmes, the university was able to establish an External Examinations Division in 1997 at Bibulawela, Kamburupitiya and the same year it was shifted to Wellamadama.

    For the purpose of centralizing and promoting postgraduate studies in all faculties, an independent body was established in June 2003 with Prof. Morley De Silva as Director.


    The University of Ruhuna is now a fully fledged university. It is making a significant contribution to national and regional development of the country. The members of its academic staff serve as consultants and advisors to a wide spectrum of national bodies and professional associations.

    In terms of its future prospects, the university is now in the process of developing and upgrading short-term andlong-term programmes of teaching and research. Together with the introduction of the semester system and course unit system based on course credits, the recent curricular revisions that address the national needs in the respective disciplines have put the university on a par with many prestigious universities within Sri Lanka and abroad.
    The effort proves that the University of Ruhuna is deeply committed to developing quality academic programmes in the best interest of the human resource development of Sri Lanka.

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