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Introduction to UWC

The United World Colleges are a group of seventeen colleges across the world where young people aged 16-19 come together for two years to study for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, engage in community service, and start conversations about how to make the world a better place.

There are currently seventeen colleges, spanning Europe, North and Central America, Asia, and Africa. All teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme

Some UWCs (UWCSEA in Singapore, Waterford KaMhlaba in Swaziland, UWC Maastricht, and eventually UWC Dilijan in Armenia)
 are large schools for students of a wide range of ages, and offer a unique opportunity for British students to be truly immersed in an international education. The UWC GB National Committee selects students for the two final years (the equivalent of sixth form) at these schools. 

The other colleges are stand-alone colleges offering a two-year pre-university education for students aged 16-19.

For further details of the colleges please 
click here. 

National Committees

The colleges do not select students directly. Rather, students apply to a National Committee in their country of birth or residence (depending on specific eligibility criteria). National Committees run their own selections processes, which vary between countries. 

Each National Committee is allocated a certain number of places at each college, and selects students to fill these places. The GB National Committee is thus responsible for selecting students from Great Britain to attend all of the UWCs. The National Committee system ensures a diverse range of nationalities are represented at every UWC.


The United World College movement was founded in 1962 by the educationalist Kurt Hahn, with the opening of Atlantic College in South Wales. The aim of the movement was to bring together young people who had grown up in the fractionalised and divided world of the Cold War, with the aim of fostering peace, unity, and international co-operation. 

Despite large changes in the global landscape over the last 50 years, many would argue that the UWC mission is just as important today as in 1962. Different challenges have presented themselves, and now questions of globalisation, sustainability, and conflict lie at the heart of the UWC education.

At a UWC, students will live together with young people from all over the world. They will study for the International Baccalaureate diploma programme and spend a lot of time engaging in community service.

“I recollect the words of Lester B Pearson when in his Nobel Lecture of 1957, he said ‘How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they don’t know each other? How can there be cooperative coexistence, which is the only kind that means anything, if men are cut off from each other, if they are not allowed to learn more about each other?’ Those words and that vision have continued to inspire me in the two decades since I graduated from Lester B Pearson UWC of the Pacific.” Douglas Alexander, UK, UWC Pearson College, British Secretary of State for International Development 2007-2010

Quick Facts

  • Since 1962, over 60,000 students have graduated from the United World Colleges, creating a huge alumni network.
  • There are more than 157 national committees across the world.
  • Students from over 180 countries have attended UWCs.