the origins of the modern university system in sri lanka dates back to 1921 when a university college, the ceylon university college was established at the former premises of royal college colombo, and was affiliated with the university of london.  in 1942 the first university was established in the country was the university of ceylon which had 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. no 16 of 1978, state university status was restored to the six separate campuses. 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. universities in the sri lanka have generally been instituted by special presidential decree, university orders, acts of parliament and the higher education act 1978. 1 of 1972, replaced it with the university of sri lanka which existed from 1973 to 1978. the university of sri lanka was a public university in sri lanka. the university was dissolved in 1978 and its six campuses became independent universities. these universities are not recognised bodies with university status or university charter under universities act no.16 of 1978.
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