Our History

Our History

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.

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.


  • There are 17 UWC schools and colleges
  • We are represented in more than 155 countries through our national committees
  • More than 60,000 students from over 180 countries have studied at UWC schools and colleges and on our short course programmes.

A timeline

1962 – UWC Atlantic College opens in south Wales, hailed by The Times as "the most exciting experiment in education since the Second World War". 

1967 – Head of the British Armed Forces at the time, Lord Mountbatten, becomes president of the movement, which becomes “United World Colleges”. 

1971 – The Singapore International School officially opens as an associate member of UWC.

1970s – 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 in Victoria Canada. Former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lester B Pearson was the inspiration behind the college. 

1978 – HRH the Prince of Wales becomes president of UWC.

1975 – The Singapore International School becomes a full member of UWC, now called UWC South East Asia.

1981 – 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 – Two more colleges, UWC-USA in New Mexico and UWC Adriatic in Italy, open. 

1988 – HRH the Prince of Wales and agronomist Dr Luis Marcano Coello help establish a UWC college in Venezuela – Simón Bolívar UWC of Agriculture. 

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. 

1995 – HM Queen Noor of Jordan and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela become joint presidents of UWC. 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 Pune, India, opens.

1999 – 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 in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, opens. 

2009 – UWC Maastricht joins UWC, merging two existing international schools – International School Maastricht and the International Primary School Joppenhof.

2012 – Simón Bolívar UWC of Agriculture closes following actions taken by the Venezuelan government to make it a public university. 

2014 – UWC Diljan in Armenia, and UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany, open.

2015 – UWC Changsu China opens.

2016 - UWC Thailand opens.

2017 - UWC ISAK Japan opens.

Read what our students have learned from their time at UWC and discover more about our impact.