UWC was founded in 1962 when Atlantic College in south Wales, UK admitted its first students. At a time when the Cold War was at its height, the aim was to bring together young people from different nations to act as champions of peace through an education based on shared learning, collaboration and understanding.
UWC’s educational concept was based on the ideas of German educationalist Kurt Hahn, one of the founding fathers of the UWC movement. Hahn believed that school should be a preparation for life, not just for university, and that education should help students to develop resilience and the ability to experience failure as well as success.
The founding of the UWC movement in 1962 was the culmination of Hahn’s thinking about education. Hahn was a pioneer in education, some of his earlier initiatives having included Salem School in Germany and Outward Bound. Then, in 1958, while attending a conference at the NATO Staff College, he was inspired by the cooperation he witnessed between former adversaries from World War II. He thought that if we could educate young people from around the world together, we could prevent future conflicts. From this belief in the power of education to change the world, the UWC movement was born, with a mission to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
Since then UWC has been firmly committed to providing students with a challenging and transformational education experience to inspire them to become agents of positive change, and to create a more peaceful and sustainable future.
UWC Atlantic College1962 – UWC was founded, with ATLANTIC COLLEGE admitting its first students, being hailed by The Times as "the most exciting experiment in education since the Second World War".
Waterford Kamhlaba SchoolWaterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland opens as Southern Africa’s first multi-racial school. It opened as an alternative to and protest against Apartheid education.
1967Head of the British armed Forces, Lord Mountbatten becomes President of the movement, on condition of a concerted effort to internationalise; a year later Mountbatten himself coins the term 'United World Colleges."
1970sNational committees are established to promote UWC in different countries and to select students for our colleges and schools.
Pearson College UWCPEARSON COLLEGE UWC opens in Victoria Canada. Former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lester B. Pearson was the inspiration behind the college.
UWC South East AsiaThe Singapore International School becomes a full member of UWC, and was officially renamed UWC SOUTH EAST ASIA.
UWC Waterford Kamhlaba School1981 – Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland, (founded in 1963 as a multi-racial school in opposition to South Africa's apartheid policies), joins the UWC movement and becomes WATERFORD KAMHLABA UWC of SOUTHERN AFRICA.
UWC USA | UWC Adriatic1982 – UWC-USA opens in New Mexico, USA and UWC ADRIATIC opens in Duino Italy, on the edge of socialist Europe.
19881988 – HRH the Prince of Wales and agronomist Dr Luis Marcano Coello help establish a UWC college in Venezuela – SIMÓN BOLÍVAR UWC of Agriculture.
1990sDevelopment of UWC short programmes as a means of providing further opportunities for more young people to share the UWC experience and benefit from our pioneering model of education.
1995HM Queen Noor of Jordan and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela become joint Presidents of UWC.
UWC RED CROSS NORDICUWC RED CROSS NORDIC in Norway opens a joint venture with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and the eight Nordic governments.
1999South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela becomes Honorary President of UWC.
UWC MAASTRICHTUWC MAASTRICHT joins UWC, merging two existing international schools – International School Maastricht and the International Primary School Joppenhof.
SIMÓN BOLÍVAR UWCSIMÓN BOLÍVAR UWC of Agriculture closes following actions taken by the Venezuelan government to make it a public university.
UWC DILIJAN | UWC ROBERT BOSCH COLLEGEUWC DILIJAN in Armenia, and UWC ROBERT BOSCH COLLEGE in Germany, open.
UWC COSTA RICAUWC COSTA RICA, formerly the Costa Rica SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, joins UWC. UWC MOSTAR in Bosnia and Herzegovina opens, becoming the first school in the country to serve all three communities.
17 schools and colleges across 4 continents
We are represented in 157 countries through our national committees
More than 60,000 students from over 180 countries have studied at one of our UWC school and college or took part to our short course programmes