What is UWC?

UWC (United World Colleges) is a global education movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.


Central to the ethos of UWC is the belief that education can bring together young people from all backgrounds on the basis of their shared humanity, to engage with the possibility of social change through courageous action, personal example and selfless leadership. To achieve this, UWC schools and colleges all over the world deliver a challenging and transformational educational experience to a deliberately diverse group of young people, inspiring them to become agents of positive change in line with UWC’s core values:

International and intercultural understanding

We are committed to building communities that are free from prejudice and intolerance, irrespective of people’s gender, socioeconomic, cultural, racial, religious or national backgrounds.

Celebration of difference

We consciously create supportive environments where differences are valued and recognised for the strength they bring to communities.

Personal responsibility and integrity

Personal responsibility, accountability and integrity are at the heart of the UWC experience. We expect the people we work with to behave in a similar way.

Compassion and service

Our actions and language communicate compassion and commitment to communities. We work at all levels – personally, locally, regionally, nationally – to make the world a better place.

Compassion and service

Our actions and language communicate compassion and commitment to communities. We work at all levels – personally, locally, regionally, nationally – to make the world a better place.

Mutual responsibility and respect

We believe in collaboration and mutual support, and recognise that respect underpins the smooth functioning of any encounter or team. People who work with our members find them dependable and respectful.


Respect for the environment

We recognise our interdependence with the environment and actively seek solutions that will contribute to a sustainable future. Our choices and actions demonstrate this commitment.

 A sense of idealism

We inspire our members to believe that it is possible to make a difference and work with others who share that belief.

Personal challenge

We are committed to learning through doing. By taking the initiative and taking on challenges, we learn about ourselves and those around us, developing a sense of responsibility for others.

Action and personal example

We believe in the importance of acting on your beliefs and making your voice heard so your actions stand out.

Today, UWC has 17 schools and colleges on 4 continents, the majority of which focus exclusively on the 16-19 year old age group: a time when young people’s energy and idealism can be guided towards empathy, responsibility and lifelong action. These colleges teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as their formal curriculum, a qualification that UWC played a major part in developing, while also emphasising the importance of experiential learning, community service and outdoor activities.

UWC college students are selected domestically, in 155 countries, through UWC’s unique national committee system. Selection is based on demonstrated promise and potential. In accordance with the UWC ethos that education should be independent of the student’s socioeconomic means, 70% of students in their IB Diploma years receive either full or partial financial assistance, based on their needs.

UWC also runs shorter educational programmes – conducted both at the campuses of its 17 schools and colleges and beyond – increasing the number of people who can have access to a UWC educational experience.

UWC fosters a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and, to date, it has inspired a worldwide network of more than 60,000 alumni, who believe it is possible to take action and make a difference locally, nationally and internationally.

Guiding Principles of UWC Schools and Colleges

UWC schools and colleges offer life defining experiences for young people. What students learn is guided by seven principles which represent UWC’s commitment to educating the whole person.

UWC school’s help students discover the possibility of change. They learn that they can help to change the world through their courageous action, personal example and selfless leadership. UWC supports young people to reach their intellectual, moral, aesthetic, emotional, social, spiritual and physical potential.

All UWC schools and colleges share the UWC mission and values. But each operates differently and has a distinct identity based on local resources and opportunities.

The education UWC offers, is driven by seven principles inspired by renowned educationalist Kurt Hahn. They are underpinned by the pursuit of peace and justice, UWC’s founding aim. The principles reflect Hahn’s thoughts, experience gained from UWC’s over 50-year history and current educational thinking.

  1. Education should take place within a diverse college community. Students should be selected from regions and social groups that reflect the wide range of tensions among and between people.
  2. Education requires active promotion of intercultural understanding and the development of genuine concern for others, founded on shared life experiences, and cooperative and collaborative living. This includes talking about and engaging with global issues in the pursuit of peace.
  3. Physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle are integral to developing a balanced person. Unhealthy lifestyles limit human potential.
  4. Community interaction is at the heart of college/school life. This requires the full and active participation of all members of the school or college.
  5. Students should be able to take positive action around issues of sustainability on both an institutional and individual level.
  6. Students must have opportunities to practice personal initiative, self-discipline and responsibility, and to manage risk and embrace challenges. Where appropriate, these opportunities need to be supported by a reassuring adult presence.
  7. Recognition is given to the fact that individuals possess unique talents and abilities. Programs should exist in each school/college which help students fulfil their potential.