UWC (United World Colleges), the global education movement, has committed to raise funds for 100 scholarships per year for refugee students to attend one of its 17 UWC schools worldwide. The UWC Refugee Initiative has been set up as a concrete response to the challenge many refugees face in gaining access to world-class secondary education due to their politically insecure status.
“In light of the dramatic escalation in the number of young refugees, there is an urgent need for refugee talent to gain access to world-class education helping them to become tomorrow’s leaders of their communities. UWC schools, with their emphasis on education for peace, must set an example and inspire others to open their gates to this underserved group.” – said Jens Waltermann, UWC International’s Executive Director.
Founded in 1962 to bridge the divisions and conflicts of the Cold War era by selecting scholarship students from around the world to live and learn together , UWC offers a two-year programme focused on experiential learning, community service and high academic standards. Unlike other international schools, UWC students are selected irrespective of their nationality, religious or ethnic background and socio-economic means, leading to a truly diverse student body supported by a comprehensive scholarship programme.
For many years UWC has educated refugees from countries experiencing serious conflict like Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Libya, Western Sahara, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, Colombia and Guatemala. To finance the 100 new scholarships UWC will need to raise $7.5 million from foundations and private donors.
The US campus is participating in the UWC Refugee Initiative and plans to increase its admission of refugee scholars in autumn 2017. Dr. Victoria Mora, President of UWC-USA in Montezuma, New Mexico, remarked: “ We at the USA campus believe this is an urgent and deeply important initiative. It is not only consistent with our mission, but with our country’s longstanding tradition of opportunity for refugees and other immigrants. I am hopeful that the US judicial branch will ultimately see its way to lifting the recent Executive Order on time for us to join the other UWCs in welcoming the refugee scholars to our communities. These refugee students, and our campus communities, can only benefit if this initiative succeeds.” As recently reported, other UWC schools, such as UWC Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, have committed to providing additional places at their campuses for Muslim and refugee students.
Laurence Nodder, Head of UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany, explains: “Integrating refugees into national education systems is a challenge many countries face today – like Germany. At UWC we see this challenge as an educational opportunity: our students learn to acknowledge and value their differences while discovering their shared humanity.” Maya Alkateb-Chami, a Syrian national based in the US, who has supported UWC in selecting young Syrians for years, added: “ Being given a UWC education has changed the lives of 44 Syrian scholarship students UWC has selected since 2010. Coming from a conflict zone as a young adult gives you a different perspective on life and builds your resilience. I believe these students add a lot to any campus they join. We see them grow into leaders on UWC campuses and thrive beyond.”
UWC (United World Colleges) is a global education movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. It comprises a network of 17 international schools and colleges on 4 continents, a system of volunteer-run national committees in over 150 countries and over 60,000 alumni. Today, 9,500 students from 155 countries are studying on one of the UWC campuses. Over 65% of UWC students in the final two years receive a full or partial scholarship, enabling admission to a UWC school independent of socio-economic means.
UWC offers a challenging educational experience to a deliberately diverse group of students and places a high value on experiential learning, community service and outdoor activities, which complement high academic standards delivered through the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.