The UWC concept was conceived at the height of the Cold War. It was a bold plan, realised by Kurt Hahn, a visionary man.

Hahn believed that it would be possible to prevent religious, cultural and racial misunderstandings and avoid conflict if young people from all over the world could be brought together. It was felt that students aged 16 to18 would be sufficiently grounded in their own cultures but still impressionable enough to learn from each other.

The first UWC- UWC of the Atlantic, opened in 1962 and today there are 13 UWC schools and colleges spread across five continents. Almost 40,000 students from over 180 countries have studied at UWC schools or colleges and there are over 130 national committees. In the turbulent world of the 21st century, UWC’s aims and objectives are as relevant as they were in 1962 – perhaps even more so.

1962 - UWC of the Atlantic opens in South Wales. The Times hailed this news as “the most exciting experiment in education since the Second World War

1967 - Lord Mountbatten becomes president of the organisation and the movement becomes

 ‘United World College’.

1971 – The Singapore International School is officially opened as an associate member of the United World College movement.

– Increasing numbers of national committees established to promote UWC within their own countries, and to select students for colleges and schools

1974 - Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific opens. Lester B Pearson,   former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, had been the inspiration behind the founding of the college.

1978 – HRH The Prince of Wales becomes president of UWC

1975 – The Singapore International School becomes a full member of the UWC movement and is officially renamed the United World College of South East Asia.

1981 –Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland, founded in 1963 as a multiracial school in opposition to South Africa’s apartheid policies, becomes Waterford KaMhlaba United World College of Southern Africa.

1982 - United World College of the American West (UWC-USA) in New Mexico, USA  and the United World College of the Adriatic, near Trieste in Italy both open.

1988 – HRH the Prince of Wales and the agronomist Dr. Luis Marcano Coello play a key role in the establishment of a College in Venezuela, the Simón Bolívar United World College of Agriculture.

1990s – Development of the first short courses as a means of providing further opportunities for young people to share the UWC experience.

1992 - Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong opens.

1995 - HM Queen Noor of Jordan and Nelson Mandela become joint presidents of the organisation. Red Cross Nordic United World College opens in Norway: a joint venture between the Red Cross organisation and the eight Nordic governments.  

1997 - Mahindra United World College of India in Pune opens.

1999 - The late Nelson Mandela becomes honorary president of UWC.

2006 - United World College Costa Rica, formerly the Costa Rica SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, joins the UWC movement and UWC in Mostar, Bosnia  and Herzegovina opens.

2009 – UWC Maastricht joins UWC; brought about by the merging of the International School Maastricht and the International Primary School Joppenhof

2012 - UWC exists 50 years!
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.