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United World College

United World Colleges
Hong Kong
United States
United Kingdom
Costa Rica
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Type School, colleges and short programmes
Established 1960
Founder Kurt Hahn
Information Presidency
Lord Mountbatten
Prince Charles
Queen Noor of Jordan
Nelson Mandela

United World Colleges (or UWC) is an education movement comprising 12 international schools and colleges, national committees in more than 140 countries, and a series of short educational programmes. Students are selected from around the globe based on their merit and potential. UWC schools, colleges and national committees offer scholarship and bursary schemes as well as accepting a limited number of fee-paying students.

The UWC international organisation is a British-based foundation and has 12 schools and colleges in Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Norway, Singapore, Swaziland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Netherlands; national committees in more than 140 countries; a portfolio of short programmes running in numerous countries; a network of more than 50,000 alumni from more than 181 countries,[1] and an International Office in London.

Nine UWC colleges teach the International Baccalaureate, with three schools in Singapore, the Netherlands and Swaziland which, on top of the IB, also teach a pre-16 syllabus to younger students. The now-closed UWC vocational college in Venezuela accepted students at tertiary level and taught a Higher Diploma in Farm Administration. Each UWC typically comprises between 200 and 300 students from about 85 countries.


The first UWC college, the United World College of the Atlantic, located in a 12th Century castle set in 90 hectares of grounds in the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, United Kingdom, was founded in 1962 with the initiative of Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist who had previously founded Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, Gordonstoun in Scotland, and the Outward Bound movement; the castle was gifted to UWC by Antonin Besse II, the son of Sir Antonin Besse. Kurt Hahn's vision was based on his post-war experience at the NATO Defence College, where he had observed discussion and collaboration between former enemies. He wanted to transmit a spirit of mutual understanding to young people to help them overcome prejudice and antagonism through living and working together.

Hahn envisaged a college educating boys and girls of age 16 to 20. The selection would be based on personal motivation and potential, regardless of any social, economic or cultural factors. A scholarship programme would facilitate recruitment of young people from different economic backgrounds.[2] The project was realised in 1962 with the inauguration of Atlantic College in Wales.

There were 13 colleges in UWC but this has dropped to 12 with the closure of UWC Simon Bolivar (opening date given for each):

The Robert Bosch United World College is scheduled to open in Freiburg, Germany in September 2014.[4] The Dilijan United World College is scheduled to open in Dilijan, Armenia in September 2014.

The UWC movement presidents have included Lord Mountbatten (1967-1978), Prince Charles (1978- 1995), Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (1995–present). Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been the honorary president of UWC since 1999.

The philosophy of the schools is in accordance with a thought from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lester B. Pearson: "How can there be peace without people understanding each other; and how can this be if they don't know each other?"


Template:IB UWC schools and colleges offer two years of pre-university education (with the exception of the Simón Bolívar United World College of Agriculture in Venezuela which offered an agricultural diploma) and United World of South East Asia in Singapore which offers grade one though twelve on its two campuses. After graduation an UWC alumni are holders of the International Baccalaureate Diploma, a high school diploma recognised worldwide. The International Baccalaureate has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, while it's Examinations Office is in Cardiff, United Kingdom, in part due to the influence of nearby United World College of the Atlantic in its early development.

The three working languages of the International Baccalaureate are English, French and Spanish. Eleven of the thirteen UWC schools and colleges use English as the main language of teaching and communication. UWC of the Adriatic in Italy and the Red Cross Nordic UWC in Norway require that all students study Italian and Norwegian respectively in order to facilitate their relationship with the local populations. The teaching in the Simón Bolívar United World College of Agriculture in Venezuela was in Spanish, with English language classes. That college was attended by slightly older students and offered a diploma in agricultural administration.

UWC students are eligible, after graduation, to participate in the Shelby Davis Scholarship programme, which funds undergraduate study (based on need) for UWC students at 91 universities in the United States.[5]


The CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) programme – one of the requirements of the IB Diploma – is a part of UWC system. CAS and the IB programme have their roots at the United World College of the Atlantic. During the creation of the IB programme, the academic and social lives of students at Atlantic College were taken as examples.

Special activities at UWC schools and colleges include the Coral Monitoring Service at Li Po Chun United World College and the partnership between the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and United World College of the Atlantic. At Mahindra United World College of India students fight fires in order to protect the school's local biodiversity reserve. At the United World College in Mostar the CAS Program contributes to the restoration of the divided post-conflict Mostar society.


Mission statement

"UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future."[6]


UWC believes that to achieve peace and a sustainable future, the values it promotes are crucial:[7] international and intercultural understanding; celebration of difference; personal responsibility and integrity; mutual responsibility and respect; compassion and service; respect for the environment; a sense of idealism; personal challenge and action and personal example.


Entry into a UWC school or college is based on a students' commitment to UWC values and how suited they are to champion UWC's mission. Many UWC students are awarded scholarships directly from the school or college or through the national committee system. UWC national committees are located in roughly 140 countries, some are run completely by volunteers, others have staff.

Applicants for UWC scholarships are interviewed by national committees, all of which have a slightly different system but are unified by the UWC mission and values. In Egypt, for example, the places are offered on the basis of a system of national competitions and specialised interviews, whereas in Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Italy shortlisted applicants attend a two-day residential with an interview, games and debates. In Hong Kong, applicants are invited to attend a day-camp named "Challenge Day" where they engage in activities such as debate, learning a new language, and group games. Shortlisted applicants then attend a final interview before gaining admission.

Notable alumni

Politics and Government






External links

  • UWC Official website
  • UWC student magazine
  • List of National Committees
  • Community of postulants to the UWC
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