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). No 16 of 1978, state university status was restored to the 6 separate campuses.It was dissolved in 1972 to establish the University of Sri Lanka. University Grants Commission (UGC) was also created to plan and coordinate the state university education.
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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.
The Sri Lankan government recognizes them under the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training.