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History of UWC
How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they don’t know each other?

Lester B.Pearson

Early supporter of Pearson College, former Prime Minister of Canada, and Nobel Peace Laureate

The striking feature of the UWC is that they embrace the entire world. They are unique and they are conscious of their responsibilities.

Nelson Mandela

Late Honorary President of UWC, Former President of South Africa

We have realized our dream to create a dream school for you. Please go out and realize your dream and other’s dreams.

Wesley Chiu,

Member of UWC National Committee of China, board member of UWC Changshu China

The sense of idealism and a purposeful life really makes the UWC experience unique and its impact life-long.

Wang Yi

Co-Founder, Vice Chairman of Board and Executive Director of Harvard Centre Shanghai. Pearson 89-91

UWC was one of the ten members of the international schools association that created the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva in 1963 … today, they are taken in over 4,000 schools worldwide and have become the gold standard for university entrance.

Sir John Daniel

Chair of UWC International Board and International Council 

I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial and above all, compassion.

Kurt Hahn

German Educator, Founder of United World Colleges

History of UWC

UWC was founded in 1962 with UWC Atlantic College in South Wales opening that same year. The aim was to bring together young people from areas of post-war conflict to act as champions of peace through an education based on shared learning, collaboration and understanding. UWC firmly believes that through education comes the greatest hope for young people to realise their full potential. In the turbulent world of the 21st century, UWC’s aims and objectives are as relevant today as they were in 1962 – perhaps even more so. We need future leaders who know and understand one another and who are inspired to make a difference.

There are 18 UWC schools and colleges around the world. We are represented in around 155 countries through our national committees. More than 60,000 students from over 180 countries have studied at UWC schools and colleges as well as taken UWC short course programmes. The majority of UWC alumni continue their education in top colleges and universities with scholarships. UWC offers a transformative and challenging educational experience. Students have an opportunity to discover who they are through an education that isn’t only about academic achievement. We also focus on community engagement, international affairs, physical activities, service to others and creative pursuits.


  • 1962
    UWC Atlantic College opens

    UWC Atlantic College opens in South Wales, hailed by The Times as "the most exciting experiment in education since the Second World War".

    Photo Caption: Atlantic College, Wales, UK

  • 1967
    Lord Mountbatten becomes President of UWC movement

    Head of the British Armed Forces at the time, Lord Mountbatten, becomes President of the movement, which becomes “United World Colleges”.  

    Photo Caption: Lord Mountbatten with AC students

  • 1970
    1970s, more national committees are established

    More national committees are established to promote UWC in different countries and to select students for our colleges and schools.

  • 1974
    Pearson College UWC opens

    Pearson College UWC opens in Victoria Canada. Former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lester B Pearson was the inspiration behind the college.

    hoto: 1974 Francis Fox, Solictor-General of Canada, with Jack Matthews, Founding Director of Pearson College (r), at the plaque dedication ceremony

  • 1975
    Singapore International School becomes UWC South East Asia

    The Singapore International School becomes a full member of UWC, now called UWC South East Asia.

    Photo: PM Lee Kuan Yew with Roy Bennett and Meurig Owen at UWCSEA

  • 1978
    HRH the Prince of Wales becomes President of UWC

    HRH the Prince of Wales becomes President of UWC.

    Photo: Prince Charles at UWC Atlantic College

  • 1981
    Waterford Kamhlaba School becomes Waterford Kamhlaba United World College

    Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland, founded in 1963 as a multi-racial school in opposition to South Africa's apartheid policies, becomes Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa.

  • 1982
    UWC-USA Opens

    UWC-USA Opens

    UWC Adriatic in Itlay Opens

    UWC Adriatic in Itlay Opens

  • 1990
    UWC short programmes begin

    1990s, UWC short programmes begin, helping more young people benefit from our pioneering model of education.

  • 1992
    Li Po Chun UWC of Hong Kong opens.

    Li Po Chun UWC of Hong Kong opens.

    Photo Caption: Prince Charles, the President of UWC movement at UWC-LPC's opening

  • 1995

    HM Queen Noor of Jordan and Nelson Mandela become joint presidents of UWC

    HM Queen Noor of Jordan and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela become joint presidents of UWC.                      
    Photo Caption: Queen Noor and Nelson Mandela, 1995

    UWC Red Cross Nordic in Norway opens

    UWC Red Cross Nordic in Norway opens a joint venture with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and the eight Nordic governments.

  • 1997
    UWC Mahindra College in India opens

    UWC Mahindra College in Pune, India, opens.
    Photo Caption: Queen Noor at plague dedication ceremony of UWC Mahindra College

  • 1999
    Nelson Mandela becomes honorary President of UWC

    South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela becomes honorary President of UWC.

  • 2006
    UWC Costa Rica, formerly the Costa Rica SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, joins UWC

    UWC Costa Rica, formerly the Costa Rica SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, joins UWC.

    Photo Caption: Founding class of UWCCR

    UWC Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina opens

    UWC Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina opens.

  • 2009
    UWC Maastricht in the Netherlands joins UWC

    UWC Maastricht joins UWC, merging two existing international schools – International School Maastricht and the International Primary School Joppenhof.

  • 2014
    UWC Diljan in Armenia opens

    UWC Diljan in Armenia opens.

    UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany Opens

    UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany Opens

  • 2015
    UWC Changsu China opens

    HM Queen Noor of Jordan and over 500 guests from across China and the world met in Changshu to celebrate the opening of United World College Changshu China.

  • 2016
    UWC Thailand Opens

    UWC Thailand celebrated its official opening on Saturday 1 October 2016, which was attended by over 400 guests. Alongside students, parents and staff from the current UWCT community, over 50 members from UWC Colleges and National Committees joined the celebrations, including prominent representatives from the UWC International Board, with many traveling around the world to attend the opening of the 16th United World College in Phuket, Thailand.

  • 2017
    UWC ISAK Japan Opens

    On August 1, 2017, the International School of Asia, Karuizawa (ISAK) officially became UWC ISAK Japan.

  • 2019
    UWC East Africa

    From 1 August 2019, UWC East Africa (UWCEA) is officially the 18th UWC school.

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