United World Colleges

UWC (or the United World Colleges) is a global network of schools and educational programmes with the shared mission of “making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”.[1] The organization was founded on the principles of German educationalist Kurt Hahn in 1962 to promote intercultural understanding.[2] Today, UWC consists of 18 schools on four continents. Young people are selected for the IB Diploma Programme from over 155 countries through a system of volunteer-run national committees; some of the schools are also open to younger years (from kindergarten). Today, UWC runs the world’s largest scholarship programme in international secondary education, with over 80% of students selected by UWC national committees receiving a scholarship.

UWC (United World Colleges)
United World Colleges logo.svg
TypeSchools, colleges and short educational programmes
Established1962; 59 years ago (1962)
FounderKurt Hahn
UWC International Office, London, United Kingdom

The current President of UWC is Queen Noor of Jordan (1995–present). Former South African President Nelson Mandela was joint President (1995–1999) alongside Queen Noor, and subsequently Honorary President of UWC (1999–2013).[3] Former UWC presidents are Lord Mountbatten (1968–1977)[4] and Prince Charles (1978–1995).[5][6] To date, there are almost 60,000 UWC alumni from all over the world.[7]


UWC was originally founded in 1962 to bridge social, national and cultural divides caused by the Cold War. The first college in the movement, UWC Atlantic College in Wales, United Kingdom, was founded in 1962 by Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist who had previously founded Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, Gordonstoun in Scotland, the Outward Bound movement, and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.[8]

Hahn envisaged a college educating boys and girls aged 16 to 19.[9] He believed that schools should not simply be a means for preparing to enter university, but should help students prepare for life by developing resilience and the ability to experience both successes and failures.[10] The selection would be based on personal motivation and potential, regardless of any social, economic or cultural factors. A scholarship programme would facilitate the recruitment of young people from different socio-economic backgrounds.[11]

There are currently 18 UWC schools and colleges in operation,[12] with an international office in London.[13] UWC Simón Bolivar was a member of the movement until its closing in 2012 by the Venezuelan government. The location and opening date (and, for those that joined the UWC movement after being founded as an independent institution, their joining year) for each United World College is given below:


UWC values experiential learning alongside providing its 16–19-year-old students with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, an internationally recognised pre-university educational programme developed in close collaboration with UWC in the late 1960s.[15] The IB Diploma Programme was co-developed by UWC Atlantic College, the Geneva International School and the United Nations School in New York in 1968[16] and aims "to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically".[17] Until today, UWC and the IB Organisation continue to work closely together to develop new curricula and shaping international education.

Five UWC schools (UWC Thailand, UWC South East Asia in Singapore, UWC Maastricht in the Netherlands, UWC East Africa in Tanzania and Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa in Eswatini) also offer non-residential educational programmes for younger students aged between 18 months and 15 years.[18]

Meanwhile, some UWC schools and colleges offer a Pre-IB Year, as a preparation year for students before they begin their IB Diploma Programme. UWC schools and colleges that offer the Pre-IB Programme include, UWC Changshu in China, UWC South East Asia in Singapore, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of South Africa in Swaziland, UWC Thailand, UWC ISAK Japan and UWC East Africa in Tanzania.[19]

Co-curricular ActivitiesEdit

The UWC education nurtures students' whole person development by having the 'Creativity, Activity, Service' Programme (CAS) at its core. Each UWC school and college offers CAS activities under different names but similarly offers a wide range of both faculty and student led activities.[20]


The UWC model relies heavily on funding support of different philanthropists. For example, the Davis-UWC Scholars Program was launched in 2000 and now supports UWC graduates to study at 99 selected US colleges and universities.[21] In 2018, the Davis-UWC Dare to Dream Programme was launched with the support of Shelby M. C. Davis.[22] UWC's latest partnership with the Schmidt Futures and Rhodes Trust is the Rise Programme.[23] 15 students with refugee backgrounds will receive all-inclusive scholarships to attend across 3 years from 2021 to 2023.[24]

Notable AlumniEdit

Politics and governmentEdit


Arts and mediaEdit


Other fieldsEdit


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External linksEdit