United World Colleges

UWC (or United World Colleges) is a global educational movement with the mission to "make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future".[1] Originally founded in 1962 to bridge social, national and cultural divides caused by the Cold War, today UWC consists of 18 schools and colleges on four continents, several short educational programmes, and national committees in 159 countries and territories.[2] The movement's international arm is UWC International, a UK registered charity, governed by the International Board and the International Council. The executive arm of the International Board is the International Office, located in London, United Kingdom.[3]

UWC (United World Colleges)
TypeSchools, colleges and short educational programmes
FounderKurt Hahn
UWC International Office, London, United Kingdom

Founded and inspired by the pioneering German educationalist Kurt Hahn, the UWC movement brings together students from around the world to study together. Most of the schools and colleges exclusively offer two-year residential programmes, for young people aged 16–19 years, during which they complete the IB Diploma Programme.

Four UWC schools (UWC Thailand, UWC South East Asia in Singapore, UWC Maastricht in the Netherlands and Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa in Swaziland) also offer non-residential educational programmes for younger students.

Most UWC students are selected through a system of national committees, which operate in 159 countries and territories as of early 2018. Selection is based on merit, independent of the students' socio-economic background. A majority of national committee-selected students pursuing the IB Diploma receive financial assistance from UWC, based on their socio-economic needs.[4]

Two-year residential UWC colleges typically have between 200 and 300 students, from approximately 80-100 different countries.[5]


The first UWC college, 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, and the Outward Bound movement.

Hahn envisaged a college educating boys and girls aged 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 the recruitment of young people from different socio-economic backgrounds.[6]

There are currently 18 UWC schools and colleges in operation. UWC Simón Bolivar was a member of the movement until its closing in 2012 by the Venezuelan government. The location and opening date for each UWC school and college is given below:

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).[8] Former UWC presidents are Lord Mountbatten (19671978) and Prince Charles (19781995).[9]


UWC values experiential learning alongside providing its 16-19-year-old students with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, an internationally recognised educational programme developed in close collaboration with UWC in the late 1960s.[10] The IB Diploma Programme aims "to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically".[11] The mission statement of the International Baccalaureate, is similar to the mission of UWC: "to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect".[12]

A core component of the IB Diploma Programme is Creativity, Action and Service, so UWC students participate in various activities that encourage these traits, with a concentration on community service and social justice.

Four UWC schools also admit students into lower years, taught using a number of different curricula based on the UWC educational model, and some offer the IB Primary Years Programme and IB Middle Years Programme.

UWC also runs "short courses", often hosted on UWC school and college campuses during academic breaks, although some are conducted in countries where there is no existing UWC school or college, such as the UWC short course in Turkey.[13]


Each UWC school and college offers activities in line with the Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) programme integral to the IB Diploma Programme and a UWC education. Examples of CAS activities across UWC school and college campuses include dance, scuba diving, and tutoring.[14]

Notable Alumni

Politics and government


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