The UWC movement was founded by Kurt Hahn, a German educator whose ideas on education were crystallised by the destruction he witnessed during the First and Second World Wars. In 1958 Hahn was inspired by the cooperation between former adversaries he witnessed at a NATO Staff Conference and became convinced that future conflicts could be prevented by educating young people from around the world together. He believed that education should prepare young people for a life with service, leadership and meaningful action at its heart. 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.
Today there are 18 UWC schools and colleges around the world, with UWCSEA in Singapore the largest of these. All students are selected on the basis of their potential to have a positive impact on their local and global community. As well as providing an international education for young people living in Singapore, each year more than 100 students from all over the world attend UWCSEA on a scholarship.
These scholarship students are, for the most part, selected by each UWC National Committee, and not directly by the school or college. Operating in vastly different contexts and circumstances across over 130 countries, the unifying factor of the National Committees is their ability to seek out the most promising students in their communities who have potential to bring the UWC mission to life. The individual committees manage their own annual selection process which they have designed to best suit their community, and the educational backgrounds of the applicants.
The world has changed since Hahn founded Atlantic College, the first UWC, in Wales, UK in 1962. But the UWC educational philosophy, with a focus on academic achievement, leadership and service to others continues to be as relevant today as it was when the movement was founded.