The Wayamba Campus of the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka was established on the recommendation of a Committee consisting of Hon. Wishva Warnapala, Deputy Minister of Education & Higher Education as Chairman. This Committee was appointed by the Hon. Minister of Education and Higher Education Richard Pathirana on 22nd December, 1994 to report on the Affiliated University Colleges. On the recommendation of the above Committee, nine Affiliated University Colleges spread out in various provinces of the country were merged to form two national universities, the Rajarata and the Sabaragamuwa Universities of Sri Lanka on 07th November 1996.
The Affiliated University College of the North Western Province, which consisted of two academic sections namely; Home Science & Nutrition and Agriculture, originally affiliated to the Universities of Kelaniya and Peradeniya respectively, were merged to form the Wayamba Campus and established in terms of the provisions of the Sections 18 and 47 (1) of the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978 and the Campus Board Ordinance No. 3 of 1995.
As provided in the Act referred above, two Faculties were set up to form the Wayamba Campus namely, the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and the Faculty of Applied Sciences I, each with three Departments of study.
The Faculty of Agricultural Sciences consisted of the Departments of Plantation Management, Horticultural Sciences and Food Technology & Agricultural Engineering, while the Faculty of Applied Sciences I comprised of the Departments of Mathematical Sciences, Industrial Management & Computer Studies and Nutrition & Community Resources Management.
The Faculty of Agricultural Sciences was located at Makandura, on 10 hectares land (25 acres) at the former In-service Training Center of the Department of Agriculture on the Kurunegala – Negombo Road, approximately 65 kilometres from the provincial capital Kurunegala. The buildings of the In-service Center were modified to cater to the needs of the students and additional facilities such as the Dean’s Office & Administrative Unit, Plant House, Student Cafeteria and extensions to the Food Science Laboratory and Library were set up after taking over the Premises.
The Faculty of Applied Sciences I was located in proximity to the Kuliyapitiya Town on the Lionel Jayathilake Mawatha in 07 acres of land previously occupied by the Divisional Engineering Office and the Department of Buildings. Several buildings, which belonged to the above department, were renovated and a new administrative block was constructed since the commencement of the academic programmes. In 1997, two blocks of land with an extent of 02 and 47 acres adjoining the Faculty were acquired for the purpose of expanding the academic programme, hostels and other facilities of the Faculty.
The two Faculties at Wayamba located 18 km from each other, had created many logistical and administrative problems, it had duplicated some common facilities such as the library and transport. In spite of this, the students of the Faculty of Agriculture benefited by staying in close proximity to the regional agricultural research center, as they were able to share research facilities and other resources, which were not available at the Faculty at the beginning. This had also facilitated opportunities for the students to get exposed to the national agricultural research programmes and to be aware of current research problems in the North Western Province.
The Wayamba Campus developed several innovative degree programmes, most of which were not offered by the traditional universities of the country. The main objective of the new degree programmes was to develop scientific skills and competence in the graduates to make them employable in both the public and private sectors. The emphasis in both Faculties was directed towards human resources development to meet the demand of an open economic situation in the agricultural and industrial sectors.
To achieve the objectives stated above, both Faculties offered three year degree programmes based on the course unit system of instruction organized into two semesters per year, each of 15 weeks duration. The medium of instruction in English language was made compulsory for all students and statistics, mathematics and development of computer skills formed a substantial portion of the curriculum. Furthermore, to expose the students to the actual working environments, develop knowledge, skills and confidence in order to ensure employment, an industrial training of 3-6 months in a recognized and relevant private enterprise/plantation industry was built into the final year of the degree course. This practice, which the other universities had not pursued at that time, paid dividends. It was noted that many students following the agricultural sciences programme were successful in getting employment in the companies where they had received industrial training.
The Faculty of Agricultural Sciences offered the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Agriculture Degree in the following specialized areas:
B.Sc. (Agribusiness Management)
B.Sc. (Horticultural Sciences)
B.Sc. (Plantation Management)
B.Sc. (Agricultural Engineering)
B.Sc. (Food Technology)
The Faculty of Applied Sciences offered the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) General Degree in the following areas:
B.Sc. (Mathematical Sciences)
B.Sc. (Industrial Management and Computer Sciences)
B.Sc. (Nutrition and Community Resources Management)
The admission requirements to both Faculties were based on the national admission policy laid down by the University Grants Commission.
The subject combinations for admission to the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences was similar to those of the other Faculties of Agriculture in Sri Lanka. As per the revised admission criteria in 1998, the students should have offered Chemistry, Physics, Biology or Agriculture for the G.C.E. (A/L).
In the Faculty of Applied Sciences, the students should have offered Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry for the G.C.E (A/L) as a pre-requisite for following its degree programmes involving Mathematics, Industrial Management and Computer Studies.
For the degree programme in Nutrition and Community Resources Management (NCRM) the students should have offered subjects in Biological or Physical Science Streams for the G.C.E. (A/L). Students who had offered Arts subjects for the G.C.E. (A/L) with Home Science as a subject were also eligible for admission to the NCRM programme.
It was noted that the students who had entered the NCRM Programme through the Arts stream had to face insurmountable difficulties in understanding the science-based course designed for this programme. Although the above admission procedure would have been satisfactory for the previous Home Science Diploma offered by the then Affiliated University College, this admission procedure was discontinued to maintain the standard of the degree programme in NCRM.
With the establishment of the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, the Affiliated University College of the North Western Province ceased to exist and as an interim measure, the students who had completed all the requirements for the respective two year diploma were admitted to the third year of the degree programme of the new university. A special third year curricula and courses were developed for these diplomates to satisfy the requirements for a standard B.Sc. level degree in the Faculties of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.
Well-qualified staff is an asset to any university to develop appropriate teaching and research programmes. In this respect, the Wayamba Campus, unlike many of the other newly established universities in the provinces, was fortunate in recruiting qualified staff due to its closeness to the capital city of Colombo, availability of transportation and easy communication. The Faculty of Agriculture was successful in recruiting a few senior staff and filled all its professorial positions from the very inception. In the Faculty of Applied Sciences, the recruitment of staff was more difficult due to the dearth of qualified personnel in the areas selected for the degree programmes. There were only two senior staff members in this Faculty and that too only in the Departments of Mathematical Sciences and Nutrition & Community Resources Management.