The origin of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts can be traced back to the year 1893, the era in which the Ceylon Technical College was established. Drawing and Design were among the first courses to be taught there.Approximately five decades later, on the 1st of October 1949, the Department of Arts and Aesthetics shifted its locality from Horton Place to Haywood College.
The subsequent renaming of the institution to the “School of Art” marked yet another hallmark in the saga of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts. The School of Arts conferred the Diploma in Fine Arts upon completion of six years of study.
On 2nd July 1952, the institution now known as the Government College of Fine Arts introduced singing and acting to the Curriculum. While the departments of Music and Dance were established in Albert Crescent in Colombo, the institution saw a further transformation of its name to the College of Fine Arts.
As a result of the First University Act of 1972, this institution evolved in 1974 to become the Institute of Aesthetic Studies of the University of Ceylon. Thus, for the first time, 63 students presented themselves in 1978 to receive the Bachelor of Arts degree. The restructuring of the University system in Sri Lanka brought about the affiliation of this Institute to the University of Kelaniya in 1980. The Special Gazette Notice issued by Her Excellency the (then) President of Sri Lanka formally announced the creation of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts with effect from 1st July 2005. This University was founded in order to promote and develop the Visual and the Creative Arts as well as to offer recognized higher educational qualifications in these spheres of study. To the post of First Vice Chancellor of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts, Her Excellency the President appointed Professor Sarath Amunugama.