Sri Lanka, one of the most literate developing countries, holds education in high regard. Hence, in addition to offering free primary and secondary education, the South Asian island country enables its public universities to offer free education at the undergraduate level to its citizens. For international students, tuition in all public universities is determined by Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission. At the moment, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law programs at the undergraduate level annually cost between USD 3,000 and USD 5,000 in these universities. Bachelor’s programs in the fields of Physical Science, Biological Science, Computing cost USD 6,000 per year. Meanwhile, the universities annually charge USD 8,000 to USD 12,500 for Engineering and Medicine programs. As you can see, university education here isn’t very expensive for international students either. So, let’s find out more below about these cheap universities in Sri Lanka.  

Affordable Schools in Sri Lanka for International Students

1. University of Peradeniya

What was founded in 1942 as the University of Ceylon is known today as the University of Peradeniya (UoP). Its suburban campus spans over an area of around 1,730 acres of land in Peradeniya, roughly 5 miles west of downtown Kandy. UoP is organized into nine faculties and three post-graduate institutes. It outranks every other Sri Lankan university in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, claiming a spot among the top 500 universities in the world. This cheap university in Sri Lanka is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), and has partnerships with numerous international universities, including US-based Cornell University and the University of Florida, as well as the Australia-based University of Melbourne.   

2. University of Colombo

University of Colombo (UoC) began its journey in 1921 as an affiliate institution of the University of London named University College Colombo. After several renaming and structural reorganizations, it finally became an autonomous university under its current name in 1978. It is made up of nine faculties that house a total of 56 academic departments. It is primarily located in the heart of Colombo, encompassing an estate of 50 acres known as Cinnamon Gardens. It also has a campus named Sri Palee Campus in the town of Horana. In addition to being associated with ACU, UoC is also a member of the International Association of Universities (IAU). It has partnerships with as many as 76 international universities and institutions, including US-based Virginia Tech University, Japan-based University of Tokyo, and Australia-based University of Sydney.  It is the second-best university in the country, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020.  

3. University of Moratuwa

Although its lineage goes back to 1893, the University of Moratuwa (UoM) has been running as an independent university since 1978. Its campus is positioned on the bank of Bolgoda Lake in Moratuwa, at a distance of about 11 miles from downtown Colombo. This cheap university in Sri Lanka offers bachelor’s and master’s programs through four faculties. A separate Faculty of Graduate Studies is in charge of facilitating postgraduate research here. UoM ranks third among the Sri Lankan universities in the QS Asia University Rankings 2019.

4. University of Sri Jayewardenepura

University of Sri Jayewardenepura (Japura) is the fourth-best university in the country, according to the QS Asia University Rankings 2019. It is located in the Colombo suburb of Nugegoda. Although its origins can be traced back to the Vidyodaya Pirivena founded in 1873, it earned its current name in 1978. With a student population of over 13,000, Japura is currently the most populous university in Sri Lanka. It is a member of both ACU and IAU, and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with more than 60 international universities. The public university is organized into eight faculties.

5. Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka

  • Tuition Fees: USD 3,000 to USD 12,500

Beginning its journey in 1991, the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka (SUSL) is a relatively young public university in Sri Lanka. It is situated in Ratnapura district’s Belihuloya village. It facilitates over 40 bachelor’s programs through seven faculties. Meanwhile, a separate Faculty of Graduate Studies runs 10 master’s programs, in addition to several MPhil, Ph.D., and postgraduate diplomas. The total enrollment here stands at over 4,200. This university too is an ACU member and has signed MoUs with international universities like UK-based Durham University, and Sweden-based University of Gothenburg. 

6. University of Kelaniya

  • Admissions 
  • Tuition Fees: USD 3,000 to USD 12,500

What was founded as Vidyalankara Pirivena in 1875 went through several renaming and structural reorganizations before eventually becoming the University of Kelaniya (UoK) in 1978? It is sited in Kelaniya, at a distance of roughly six miles from downtown Colombo. It is currently home to over 12,700 students. This cheap university in Sri Lanka offers its undergraduate programs through six faculties, while a separate Faculty of Graduate Studies administers the graduate programs. This public university is associated with both ACU and IAU.

7. South Eastern University of Sri Lanka

South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (SEUSL) is a public university that came into being in 1995. It is located in Oluvil, around nine miles south of the city of Kalmunai. It has six faculties, consisting of 23 departments and two postgraduate units. A member of ACU, SEUSL offers higher education to more than 4,300 students. Through these faculties, it facilitates over 40 academic programs at undergraduate and graduate levels.

8. University of Ruhuna

  • Admissions
  • Tuition Fees: USD 3,000 to USD 12,500

Our last university on this list of cheap universities in Sri Lanka is the University of Ruhuna. With its main campus occupying 72 acres of land in the city of Matara, the University of Ruhuna has been around since 1978. Originally established as a university college, it went on to become a full-fledged university in 1984. It is made up of 10 faculties that house a total of 57 departments. Associated with both ACU and IAU, the public university facilitates 17 bachelor’s programs and 16 master’s programs. MPhil and Ph.D. programs are also offered here. Its student population is north of 11,200.


We hope that this article on cheap universities in Sri Lanka was helpful. If you are interested in studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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