The University

General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) was initially established as General Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy by the Parliamentary Act No. 68 of 1981. The Academy was elevated to university status by the Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy (Amendment) Act No. 27 of 1988, and it was renamed as General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University on 11 October 2007. Degrees awarded by the University are recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in Sri Lanka, and the University is also a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (United Kingdom) and the International Association of Universities (IAU).

The University is situated in Ratmalana on a 48-acre plot of land that was formerly the residence of the late General Sir John Kotelawala, Sri Lanka’s third prime minister. This stunning estate is enhanced by a magnificent lake, its natural surroundings, and a variety of rare and unusual species of fauna and flora that have been meticulously maintained to preserve the antiquity of the premises.

Throughout its 41-year history, KDU has made every effort to meet the needs of the services, producing more than 3500 graduates for the Tri-services of Sri Lanka. This is because the university’s primary objective is to produce highly qualified graduates for the Tri-services in Sri Lanka. Additionally, KDU has improved the overall quality of higher education for Service personnel as a result of its association with other regional military training institutes, which has also boosted the number of graduates it produces each year.

KDU has just started offering degree programmes for Day Scholars on a fee-levying basis, giving many deserving young people in Sri Lanka the chance to pursue a university education of the highest quality. By doing this, KDU aims to create a learning atmosphere where both Day-Scholars and Officer Cadets can benefit. Whereas Day-Scholars are given the chance to learn in a disciplined atmosphere and establish themselves as highly acceptable in modern society. Together with Officer Cadets, Day Scholars have the chance to participate in extracurricular activities including athletics, club activities, field study programmes, etc., giving them the chance to hone their leadership and soft skills and gain a competitive edge in the job market.

With the opening of KDU degree programmes for Day-Scholars in 2010, KDU also commenced attracting foreign students for its degree programmes from SAARC and other friendly countries on fee-levying basis. It has currently enrolled nearly two hundred and sixty foreign students in its degree programmes and the increase in numbers is an indication of the recognition KDU has earned internationally for its degree programmes. Further, this venture has enabled KDU to contribute to the national economy by earning a considerable amount of foreign exchange through its high quality degree programmes in all disciplines.

The University Flag

The Motto

සිය රටටමයි කවදත්
For the Motherland Forever



In 1979, Sri Lanka Armed Forces recommended to the Government of Sri Lanka a course of higher studies, which would enable young officers to gain higher academic qualifications.

Accordingly a study team comprising of officials from the Services as well as the universities was sent to India where they visited the National Defence Academy. On return the study team proposed the setting up of a Defence Academy to award a degree in Defence Studies.

In 1980, General Sir John Kotelawala CH, KBE, LLD, having understood the necessity of a suitable location for the proposed Defence Academy, informed the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General JED Perera VSV, D.Litt.(Honoris Causa), FIBM of his intention to donate the Kandawala Estate, the 48 acres land with its moveable and immovable properties to the Government for establishing a Defence Academy.

This offer was gladly accepted and initial steps were taken to set up the Academy. By this time Sir John was promoted to the rank of General and when he passed away on, 02nd October 1980, the Government and the Services decided to honour him by naming the Academy after him. It was thus named as the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy. 

The Academy was formally opened on the Army Day, 11 October 1980 at a ceremony held at Kandawala Estate. His Excellency the then President J.R. Jayewardene unveiled a plaque to commemorate the event. However, the Academy did not have the necessary infrastructure and resources to commence its own programmes immediately.

In February 1981, a temporary arrangement was made for Service Officer Cadets to follow courses in Engineering and Physical Science in the Universities of Moratuwa and Colombo respectively.

The Act of Parliament cited as the Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy Act No. 68 of 1981 and several later amendments effected the establishment of the Academy. The name of the Academy too was later amended to General Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy.

In 1986 the Board of Management of the KDA decided to elevate the Academy to the status of a University, which would confer the degree of Defence Studies on Officer Cadets who successfully complete the degree programme. Consequently, the Act of Parliament No. 27 of 1988 elevated the Academy to University status and its first convocation was held in 1991.

The Symbolic Composition of The University Crest

The Emblem of Sri Lanka Allegiance to the Nation
Cross Swords Sri Lanka Army
The Anchor Sri Lanka Navy
Two Wings Sri Lanka Air Force
The Torch Education

Lyrics of the KDU Anthem