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Applications Process FAQs

Am I eligible to apply? 

Information about eligibility is available here. 

What do we expect from prospective applicants? 

There is no typical UWC candidate - we accept applications from a wide range of candidates. We do not expect you to have lived abroad or speak many languages! Most applicants have evidence of extra-curricular engagement in both academic subjects and activities (sports, volunteering, or creative pursuits). However, we understand that all applicants have had different opportunities in their lives. We only care about whether you have made the most out of your opportunities. As long as you are committed to working towards a better world, we would love to hear from you, no matter what you have achieved in your life so far. Potential and motivation are the most important attributes we look for.

What is the application process like?

First of all, you will need to complete and submit an online application form and request two references from people who know you well. Your application will then be assessed by our shortlisting team and you will be informed whether or not your application has been successful.

If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to be assessed by our Selections Team. Due to the current pandemic, we are working on changes to our assessment process which will enable it to be run online.

Why is there an application fee?

There is a fee of £150 per application. This fee is paid via PayPal through our online application system. The National Committee of Great Britain is a voluntary body and does not receive any fees from United World Colleges for undertaking this work. This fee is therefore used to cover the administrative costs of the application and selection process.

In the cases of extreme financial hardship, this fee will be waived at the discretion of the Selection Officer. It should not prevent you from applying, so please get in touch if you cannot afford the application fee at this time by contacting All requests will be treated confidentially.

What criteria do you use to mark applicants?

Our five selection criteria are common across the United World Colleges movement. They are:

  •  Intellectual curiosity and motivation: a genuine urge to learn about the world around oneself and the ability to recognise the details and grasp the breadth of issues (for example global and local concerns) involved in any given topic and to analyse them thoroughly 
  • Active commitment: the ability to develop and readiness to reflect, question and confront one’s own values, to measure one’s behaviour within family and community against one’s values and to act on one’s own beliefs accordingly and responsibly 
  • Social competence: the ability and readiness to make contact with other people, to interact respectfully with them, to work together with them in a team and to achieve solutions; the ability to express oneself adequately in different situations and to different people
  • Resilience, personal responsibility and integrity: the ability to look after oneself physically and emotionally during the challenging and transforming experience that a UWC offers; the personal motivation to adhere to UWC’s common moral and ethical principles, a sense of humility and an ability to listen and value another person’s opinion and experience 
  • Motivation for UWC: passion, ability and serious incentive to contribute to and actively promote UWC’s values

We look for evidence of these through your personal attribute: Are you adaptable and adventurous? Are you caring and thoughtful? Do you cope well with challenges? Your personality will tell us a lot about whether or not you will fit in at a UWC and enjoy the experience.

 We don't expect everyone to be predicted all 9s at GCSE - all we want is that you are motivated and hard-working enough to keep up with the challenges of the IB (the academic programme offered by UWCs) - and that you are excited by learning.

Your commitment to UWC ideals is extremely important. You don't need to have volunteered somewhere exotic - we love to see some community engagement or leadership! You should have a clear sense of justice and a yearning to make the world a fairer and more peaceful place.

What role do teachers and parents play in the application? 

In the application form we ask for two references. These are very important aspects of the process. 

For your activity reference you should ask someone who has a lot of experience of working with you in a non-academic setting (someone who is not a family member or a school teacher) who can tell us about you - for example, a scouting or guiding leader, a volunteer supervisor, or a leader in extra-curricular activities. 

The academic reference is for a teacher who knows you well and who is in a good position to talk about your interests and competencies in school. Make sure to choose someone who supports the idea of you going to a UWC. There is also a section in the academic reference that allows the academic referee to fill out your predicted/achieved grades. 

You will need to ask your chosen referees for their email address and input this into your online application. We won't contact your referees for references until we have invited candidates to the assessment week, and at that point we will send an information email to them outlining what we will ask of them. The referees will be provided with some guidance questions and shouldn't write more than one A4 page. If you have any problems, please contact

There is also a section that allows your parents to read through your application before it is submitted and sign the declaration to say they understand the selection and funding process and support your application. We cannot accept applications which are not supported by parents or guardians. 

Can I get help to fill out my application form? 

It is usually a good idea to write out your answers before you fill in the form properly, and often it helps to get someone else to have a look over your form before you send it in. But remember, we’re interested in you, so it’s important for you to give us all the information we need in your own words! 

If I don’t get accepted can I reapply next year? 

Absolutely! But remember that there is an age limit on applicants – UWCs are essentially sixth form colleges and our students are aged 16 or 17 when they start. Normally people apply during their final GCSE/Standard year so that if they are unsuccessful they aren’t too old to reapply the following year. We cannot consider application forms from individuals who are in their final year of A-levels/Highers. 

Can I do my second year of sixth form at a UWC if I have already started my A-Levels? 

You can start at a UWC after completing your first year of sixth form as long as you will be 17 or younger when you begin. Indeed, many students find it helpful to have AS-levels before starting the International Baccalaureate diploma programme! However, all students at UWC must stay for two years, and it is not possible to stay for only one year. Even if you have studied one year of the IB elsewhere, you will still have to begin it again at a UWC.

Similarly, it is not possible to split the two years between two different UWCs.