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University of Yangon

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Seal of the University of Yangon The University of Yangon, located in Kamayut, Yangon, is the oldest university in Myanmar's modern education system and the best known university in Myanmar. The university offers mainly undergraduate and postgraduate degrees (Bachelor's, Master's, Post-graduate Diploma, and Doctorate) programs in liberal arts, sciences and law. Full-time bachelor's degrees were not offered at the university's main campus after the student protests of 1996. The bachelor's degree was re-offered from 2014 on. Today degrees in Political Science are offered to undergraduate students, as well as postgraduate diplomas in areas such as social work and geology.

Initially most major universities in the country depended on Yangon University. Until 1958 when Mandalay University became an independent university, all institutions of higher education in Myanmar were under Yangon University. After the University Education Act of 1964, all professional colleges and institutes of the university such as the Institute of Medicine 1, Rangoon Institute of Technology and Yangon Institute of Economics became independent universities, leaving the Yangon University with liberal arts, sciences and law. In Myanmar, responsibility for higher education depends on various ministries. The University of Yangon depends from the Ministry of education.

Yangon University has been at the centre of civil discontent throughout its history. All three nationwide strikes against the British administration (1920, 1936 and 1938) began at Rangoon University. Leaders of the Burmese independence movement such as General Aung San, U Nu, Ne Win and U Thant are some of the notable alumni of the university. The tradition of student protest at the university continued in the post-colonial era--in 1962, 1974, 1988 and in 1996.

Table of contents
  1. History
  2. Campus
  3. Main Departments
  4. Programmes
  5. Notable alumni


Established in 1878 as an of the University of Calcutta, the Rangoon College was operated and managed by the Education Syndicate set up by the British colonial administration. The college was renamed Government College in 1904, and University College in 1920. Rangoon University was founded in 1920, when University College (Rangoon College - secular) and Judson College (Baptist-affiliated) were merged by the University of Rangoon Act. The American Baptist Mission decided to recognize Judson College (formerly Baptist College) as a separate institution within Rangoon University. Rangoon University modelled itself after University of Cambridge and University of Oxford. All subsequent institutions of higher learning founded by the British were placed under Rangoon University's administration: Mandalay College in Mandalay in 1925, Teachers Training College and Medical College in Yangon in 1930, and Agriculture College in Mandalay in 1938.

Although it was attended only by the elites of the day, the university was at the centre of the Burmese independence movement. Students protested against the British administration's control of the university and the Rangoon Act which placed the governor as chancellor of the University of Rangoon. All three nationwide strikes against the British colonial government (1920, 1936 and 1938) began at the university. National Day in fact commemorates the rebellion of Burmese students at Rangoon University in 1920. By the 1930s the university was the hotbed of Burmese nationalism, producing a number of future senior Burmese politicians, including General Aung San, U Nu, Ba Maw, Kyaw Nyein, Ba Swe, U Thant and Thein Pe Myint.

Rangoon University became one of the most prestigious universities in Southeast Asia and one of the top universities in Asia, attracting students from across the region. The Japanese occupied the university during the Second World War, but it recovered and flourished after Burma gained independence in 1948. This golden period ended in 1962.

After the military coup of 1962 under General Ne Win, and under the Burmese Way to Socialism, Rangoon University was put directly under the control of the Directorate of Higher Education, a central government agency, whereas previously it was run by a council of professors, scholars and government officials. In addition, the medium of instruction was changed to Burmese, a radical departure from English, which had been the university's medium of instruction since its founding. Educational standards began to decline markedly, and international bodies ceased to recognize degrees issued or obtained at the university. The university was also renamed the Rangoon Arts and Sciences University (abbreviated RASU), after certain departments and faculties (medicine, economics, education, etc.) were separated from the university in 1964.

Rangoon University students staged a peaceful demonstration and protest on campus against 'unjust university rules' on 7 July 1962. Ne Win sent his troops to disperse the students. Dozens of students were killed and the historic Rangoon University Student Union (RUSU) was reduced to rubble the next morning.

In November 1974 the former UN Secretary General U Thant died, and on the day of his funeral on 5 December 1974, Rangoon University students snatched his coffin on display at the Kyaikkasan Race Course, and erected a makeshift mausoleum on the grounds of the RUSU in protest against the government for not honouring their famous countryman with a state funeral. The military stormed the campus on 11 December killing some of the students, recovered the coffin, and buried U Thant at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Student protests against protest against General Ne Win's socialist government culminated in 1988. Student protest in March 1988 was met with a violent response from the government. This did not stop the protests. On 8 August 1988, students around the country came together to protest against the military regime. The protest was supported by hundreds of thousands of people who went into the street in protest against the military rule. This is today remembered at the 8888 uprising. The movement was crushed by the army Chief of Staff General Saw Maung who took over and instated the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC or na wa ta). It is estimated that more than 300 students died in the protests. In the months and years that followed, many more were imprisoned.

In 1989, the military junta changed place names throughout Myanmar; the university was renamed the University of Yangon. The university was closed for most of the 1990s, because of fears of a repeat of the 8888 Uprising. To prevent students from congregating, the government dispersed the existing institutions and departments that made up Yangon University into separate learning institutions scattered throughout the city. Till 2013 only graduate studies, certain professional courses, and a few diploma courses were conducted at the university's main campus. Newer universities such as Dagon University, University of East Yangon and University of West Yangon were created to cater for undergraduates.

Yangon University celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in a week-long celebration, which began on 1 December 1995. The Jubilee marked the school's formal establishment of 75 years. For its commemoration, the government built the Diamond Jubilee Hall, a four-storied building in the university's grounds, which cost Ks.63,00,00,000. A new set of postage stamps was also produced. Once-affiliated institutes and departments (e.g., the Institute of Economics, Yangon which began life as a department at Yangon University), which had already separated, also celebrated.

The transition to a new government in 2011 Myanmar was followed by a renewed focus on education. In 2013, Aung San Suu Kyi was named head of the Yangon University Upgrading and Restoration Committee. In December 2013, the university re-opened for undergraduate students. Initially only 50 undergraduate students were accepted. A controversial National Education Law was enacted in 2014. Under the law the university is managed by the Ministry of Education, who also appoints the university rector.


Yangon University is located in Yangon, along the southwestern bank of Inya Lake, the largest lake in the city. It is on the corner of Pyay Road and University Avenue Road in Kamayut Township, north of downtown Yangon. The modern campus of Yangon University completed construction in 1920. There are two campuses, namely Main Campus and Hlaing Campus, the former being the most well-known. Judson Church, inside the main campus of the university, is a Baptist church, and like Judson College, named after Adoniram Judson, a 19th-century American missionary who compiled the first Burmese-English dictionary. The main campus also contains a convocation hall.


The accommodation in Burma is not mixed and the availability is limited. Women's halls have many limited rules whilst men's a few.

Other important buildings
Main Departments
  1. Department of Anthropology
  2. Department of Archaeology
  3. Department of Botany
  4. Department of Chemistry
  5. Department of Computer Studies
  6. Department of English
  7. Department of Geography
  8. Department of Geology
  9. Department of History
  10. Department of Industrial Chemistry
  11. Department of International Relations
  12. Department of Law
  13. Department of Library and Information Studies
  14. Department of Mathematics
  15. Department of Myanmar
  16. Department of Oriental Studies
  17. Department of Philosophy
  18. Department of Physics
  19. Department of Psychology
  20. Department of Zoology.
  21. Department of Biology
Each department offers an undergraduate degree programme. The Department of International Relations offers two: the Bachelor of Arts (international relations) and the Bachelor of Arts (political science).


Yangon University offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. The undergraduate programmes are subdivided into three categories: Arts (B.A.), Sciences (B.Sc.), and Law(LL.B). The choice of different fields of learning takes place in upper secondary school where students choose particular subjects directed towards their tertiary education. Postgraduate degrees are separated into three groups: Doctorates, Master's, and diplomas. Although YU no longer offered the undergraduate degrees owing to the uprising in 1996, it now was reopened for the undergraduate degrees with the name of (COE) what literally means Center of Excellence in 2014 and accepted only 50 selectively excellent students for each field of studies. (Although undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are still available to current days, the recognition of status of international COE of the university has been discontinued.)

Notable alumni

Politics and government Academia Business Arts and literature

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