Information for parents
This information is designed to assist you as the parent or guardian of an applicant to a place at a United World College. We know you must have many questions and hope to provide you with information to help you make the choice of a United World College education for your son or daughter. We understand that sending your child to a UWC at what is a relatively young age can be difficult and scary. We aim to be entirely honest with parents and applicants about what they can expect, but also to reassure you that many people have attended UWC's over many years and have had wonderful and positively transformative experiences.
The general information provided on this page is intended to serve as a guideline and starting place. Arrangements and procedures vary between individual colleges and if you would like more information about a specific UWC, we encourage you to find out more here.
If you are the parent of a prospective UWC student, you are probably very proud of them. Young people who identify with the UWC mission and values, and who are considering leaving their families to pursue this unique experiential education tend to be adventurous, intelligent, compassionate and curious. A UWC education doesn't just transform individual students, it impacts families, schools, communities and (hopefully) the world. Don't think of it as sending your child away to school, think of it as welcoming a world of experiences, opportunities and amazing people to your family.
The South African National Committee accepts applications from South African citizens. If a student has more than one citizenship, it is important they only apply through one National Committee and process. Students apply to attend one of 17 UWC's around the world.
It is important that students themselves be motivated about UWC and complete the application individually. UWC's educational philosophy is strongly rooted in independent learning and we encourage students to reach out directly to us on matters concerning their application, nomination, and UWC education. Attending UWC requires maturity, resilience, and independence. The application process is a great way to start demonstrating those qualities.
The National Committee is comprised of dedicated UWC alumni from across the country to select students. There are two main selections namely; Regional (these are held in the three main regions of South Africa) and National Selections (this one is held in Johannesburg). Students are selected based on merit, promise and potential.
Once short-listed candidates have been identified, they will be asked to declare their UWC preferences. The families of shortlisted applicants who are seeking financial assistance to attend UWC are required to go through a confidential financial assessment, which is conducted using a system similar to that of the Canada Student Loans Program. Household income, assets and liabilities are considered, and adjustments are made based on region, number of dependents and other factors. The basic financial information provided by families is not shared with those conducting selection to ensure a clear distinction between the selection and placement processes. We strive to ensure that a UWC education is available to students who truly desire and deserve it and not just those who can afford it. Our financial aid and scholarship funding is limited, so we work with families of UWC candidates to establish what a reasonable contribution towards tuition might be. The range is from full scholarship, to paying full fees. Most families are somewhere in between. For an estimate of what your family may be asked to contribute please refer to our graph here.
After the selections and financial assessment has been made the National Committee nominate the short-listed candidates to the various schools and colleges which have made an offer to the National Committee.
Attending a UWC
If your child is nominated to fill a spot at a UWC, you will surely have many questions. Each school is different but there are certain qualities and values that are common. Learn more about the UWC Education Model here. UWC schools offer the 2-year pre-university International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and you can learn more about the IB here.
Term begins in August/September at all UWC's except Waterford Kamhlaba UWC (January start). There is typically a break of several weeks between first and second term each year and students return home for the summer between their first and second years.
Students will learn at least as much outside the classroom as in it. The deliberate diversity and residential program at each UWC is designed to foster intercultural understanding, effective communication, increased awareness of self and others, conflict resolution, respect and compassion, self-discipline, and stewardship of the environment.
Each school provides a robust residential care program with mentors, advisors and counsellors available at all times. Nutritious food and programs to support physical and psychological wellbeing are priorities at UWC.
We understand it can be challenging to be away from home at this (or any) age. Living in residence at a UWC is part of our unique experiential education, and UWC schools are providing leading edge pastoral care programs across all campuses.
Life after UWC
Attending a UWC is only the first step. A UWC education opens up a myriad of post-secondary prospects for students. There are UWC-specific scholarship opportunities at many universities in South Africa, North America, Europe and worldwide. Your child's scholarship and post-secondary possibilities are not limited by attending UWC.