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University of Peradeniya "more open than usual" - Part 2 :
 

The expansion of an academic citadel (Part I of the article was published on December 23.)


Senate Building B Room of the Faculty of Arts

The Universities Act No. 16 of 1978 based on the new Universities Bill came into effect on 1st January 1979. This Act brought back some of the central features of the Ceylon University Ordinance of 1942 with a difference: the powers of the Senates were restored, the Councils and Courts were re-established and elections for the posts of Vice-Chancellor re-introduced.

The Universities Act No. 16 of 1978 based on the new Universities Bill came into effect on 1st January 1979. This Act brought back some of the central features of the Ceylon University Ordinance of 1942 with a difference: the powers of the Senates were restored, the Councils and Courts were re-established and elections for the posts of Vice-Chancellor re-introduced. The independence of the universities was restored but the creation of University Grants Commission with wider powers than those traditionally associated with such bodies, brought in a new measure of control over the finances, student admissions, scheme of recruitment and promotions in universities.

The most significant change that the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978 brought to Peradeniya was the restoration of the university's autonomy under the new identity "University of Peradeniya". Although this identity has been maintained for 24 years until present day (2002), the complete history of the university extends for 60 years from 1942. Therefore a very brief summary of the academic activities during this period would be necessary.

Expansion

From 1942 to 1952: The University of Ceylon at its inception in 1942 was an institution of very modest proportions consisting four Faculties - Arts, Oriental Studies, Science and Medicine of which the first three were located at Thurstan Road (now Cumaratunga Munidasa Mawata) while the Faculty of Medicine was located at Kynsey Road. In 1942 there were only 55 staff members in all 4 Faculties consisting 41 academic departments as follows: 15 Professors, 20 Lecturers, 8 Assistant Lecturers and 12 others.

There were 904 students distributed among the 4 Faculties in the following manner: Arts and Oriental Studies - 396, Science - 250, Medicine - 268. The Library was small with a collection of 30,000 volumes.

During the period 1942-51 the university experienced a phase of impressive growth in many respects. In 1950 the Faculty of Engineering was established. By 1951, the University of Ceylon consisted of 5 Faculties, 34 departments, 183 University teachers and 2210 undergraduates.

The policy of the government was for the university to function in Colombo until the buildings at Peradeniya were made ready for occupation. In pursuance of this policy, the first batch of students from the Departments of Law, Agriculture and Veterinary Science came into residence at Peradeniya in 1949, but the major move took place on 6th October 1952 when the staff and the students of the Faculties of Arts and Oriental Studies together with the Library and the University Administration were transferred to Peradeniya.

In 1954, the Department of Dental Surgery was shifted to Peradeniya. The second Faculty of Science was started at the commencement of the university session of 1961/62. The first stage of the second Medical School commenced in June 1961 and the first batch of medical students admitted in January 1962. After many delays the Faculty of Engineering was transferred to Peradeniya in October 1964. The Schools of Veterinary Sciences and Dental Sciences were upgraded to independent faculty status in 1980 and 1986, respectively.

Implementation of the University Act No. 1 of 1972 and subsequent rationalization of courses brought in a series of difficulties to the university at Peradeniya. Some of the members of the academic staff had to move to other universities and certain departments such as Western Classics and education were also moved to other universities. Under the University Act No. 16, 1978 the university regained its independence and some of the academic departments lost at the beginning of the same decade were reestablished. The university has shown a steady development in the next 2 decades and the picture that emerges in the year 2000 at the dawn of the 21st century is impressive:

Faculty of Agriculture: The Agricultural education in the University of Ceylon began with a single department admitting 24 students in 1947. After several years of sustained growth Faculty status was granted with the establishment of the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Science in 1954.

The Faculty of Agriculture became a separate faculty with six departments in 1972/1973. In 2002 the number of department in the faculty has increased to eight and the Faculty is fully capable of handling the major responsibility of educating graduates required for the agriculture sector in Sri Lanka, with much expanded facilities for teaching and research. The Post Graduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA), which is closely linked to this faculty was created in 1975 in recognition of-the need to have higher levels of manpower to meet the growing scientific needs of agriculture in the country.

Faculty of Arts: The Faculty of Arts and Oriental Studies, which are among the oldest in the University, underwent major overhaul during the "rationalization" that followed the University of Ceylon Act, No. 1 of 1972. Eight of the seventeen Departments of study were closed down, and the two faculties merged into a single faculty - the Faculty of Arts. Some of the teachers and departments were transferred to other campuses.

When Peradeniya became a separate University in 1979, some of the extinguished departments were restored. The staff strength and the student enrolment of this faculty were augmented by the integration of the Dumbara Campus in 1988. Undaunted by pressures and emergencies, the curriculum is being revised and the course-unit system has been introduced in 2001. With the two new departments namely the Dept. of Fine Arts and the Dept. of Management established recently, the number of departments in the Faculty has increased to 16.

Faculty of Dental Sciences: Established as the Department of Dental Surgery in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ceylon, Colombo in 1943, the Dental School was moved to Augasta Hill, Peradeniya in 1954. With the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine at Peradeniya in 1961, the Dental School became a section of the Faculty of Medicine, Peradeniya. In 1974 the Medical, Dental and Veterinary Schools were amalgamated into the Faculty of Medical, Dental and Veterinary Sciences.

It was separated from the parent faculty in 1986 and granted independent rank as the Faculty of Dental Sciences, the only faculty of its kind in Sri Lanka. In 1990 the Faculty of Dental Sciences expanded into six departments. A new department of Basic Sciences was established in 1995 making the total number of departments seven.

Faculty of Engineering: At its inception the Faculty of Engineering had three Departments of Study: Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. After the move to Peradeniya, a programme of diversification was undertaken and four more departments were added. Considerable development has taken place in all departments with the acquisition of sophisticated laboratory equipment.

An audio-visual unit and a language laboratory are also among the additions made in recent years. The latest department that was added to the Faculty was Computer Science making the total number of department in the Faculty eight. In addition to promoting computer education the Faculty has been in the forefront in developing the computer facilities of the University of Peradeniya including its computer network and telephone system.

Faculty of Medicine: The Peradeniya Medical School was established in 1961 and the first batch of 103 students was admitted in January 1962. The Peradeniya Medical School and Dental School were converted to an independent Medical and Dental Faculty in 1967. The School of Veterinary Science became a part of the Faculty in 1970. In 1980 Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science were separated and a new Faculty of Vet. Medicine and Animal Science was formed. The Dental School became a separate Faculty in 1986.

The Teaching Hospital, the most significant addition to the Faculty of Medicine in recent years, was opened in June 1980. The Faculty of Medicine in 2002 had 15 Departments of study and 2 Units. Approximately 1000 students in six batches receive clinical training at present in the Teaching Hospitals at Peradeniya and 6 others hospitals.

Faculty of Science: The second Faculty of Science of the University of Ceylon was established at Peradeniya in 1961 with five Departments of Study. The first batch of students comprised 40 biological science students and 76 physical science students. At present there are 7 departments and a Science Education Unit. Presently there are about 900 undergraduate students and 200 postgraduate students. Provision for postgraduate studies in science has been provided through the Postgraduate Institute of Science.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science: The first batch of student transferred from Colombo to Peradeniya in 1949 comprised the students of the Department of Veterinary Science of the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo. In 1954, it was grouped with Departments of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to form the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Science.

In the reorganization of the universities that took place in 1972, the School of Veterinary Science was given the status of a School with three departments and amalgamated with Medical and Dental Sciences to form the Faculty of Medical, Dental and Veterinary Sciences.

In 1980 the School of Veterinary Science was separated and given faculty status with four departments as Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences. In 2000 the Faculty structure was reorganized with concurrent establishment of its fourth department. The facilities have been much expanded in recent years and it admits 75 students per year.

Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture: The Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture attached to the University of Peradeniya was established in February 1975. It was the first Postgraduate Institute of its kind established in Sri Lanka. Facilities for Postgraduate studies in Agriculture are provided under the PGIA. In the year 2000, 350 full time Postgraduate students and 374 part-time Postgraduate students were registered at the PGIA.

Postgraduate Institute of Science: The Postgraduate Institute of Science attached to the University of Peradeniya was established in February 1996. It was the 6th Postgraduate Institute established in Sri Lanka.

Facilities for Postgraduate studies in Science are provided under the PGIS. In the year 2000, 397 Postgraduate students were registered at the PGIS.

University of Peradeniya Library: The University of Peradeniya Library originated as the Ceylon University College Library in 1921. The College Library became the University of Ceylon Library in 1942 and was moved to the Ground Floor of the Arts Block, Peradeniya in October 1952.

The University Library was moved to the new Main Library Building in 1960. Thus the University of Peradeniya possesses a library much older than the university.

In the next 40 years beginning 1960 the library facilities at Peradeniya have expanded from one Main Library to a library system consisting the Main Library devoted to Humanities and Social Sciences and 5 branch libraries devoted to Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine (including Dental Sciences), Science and Vet.

Medicine, serving seven Faculties of study and two Postgraduate Institutes. At present the library system at Peradeniya possessing over 650,000 items is the largest such university library system in Sri lanka. It has been decentralized considering the convenience of the staff and students dispersed in the large campus.

(This article was compiled by Professor H. Abeygunawardena, Chairman of the Convocation Committee 2002. Material was extracted from University Calendar (1994/95 and 2002) and Golden Jubilee Souvenir (1942-1992))

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