University of Colombo Institute for Agro-Technology & Rural Sciences The University of Colombo Institute of Agro-Technology and Rural Sciences(UCIARS) was established as an Institute with blended distance mode of teaching to provide opportunities of higher education to farming community across barriers of age, space, time and academic background, under Section 24 A and Section 18 of the Universities Act no 16 of 1978 and the University of Colombo Institute of Agro-technology and Rural Sciences Ordinance No. 02 of 20082. The Order under Section 24 A came into operation with effect from 23rd August 2008. The establishment of this Institute heralded an era of affirmative action on the part of the Government of Sri Lanka to “uplift farming in Sri Lanka as a prestigious occupation through arming the farming community with modern knowledge and information technology”.

The Institute incorporated within its system the Magampura Agro-Technology and Community Services Center in Weligatta, Hambantota affiliated to the University of Colombo in 2000 by the UGC. The Centre’s history dates back to 1998 through which the university and researchers were able to build over the years close collaborative links with the

community in order to transfer technology / knowledge and know-how directly to the end- users and improve efficiency in agriculture and agro-industry in the region.The Institute has a mandate to “providing, promoting and developing among persons presently engaged in Agriculture and Agro-Technology, higher education in the discipline of Agro-Technology and Rural Sciences”. It will cater to the changing individual and social needs by taking education through a blended learning mode to the doorsteps of the farming community who never dreamt of entering the portals of higher education. However they have aspiration and potential to pursue higher education but could not utilize the opportunities for personal, family or economic reasons. With the flexibility in the entry requirements and choice of courses the Institute demonstrates that it is possible to impart quality higher education using modern information communication technologies to learners of the farming communities of poor rural sectors to pursue education at a pace and place convenient to them and realize their academic, professional and social aspirations. The will and commitment of the Institute to engage with society is evidenced by clear statements in institutional objectives, strategic planning and, teaching and learning processes.