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1. What is UWC?

UWCs (full form: United World College) are a network of schools and educational programs sharing the same goal: making education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. The kind of educational opportunities provided by UWC varies from short courses to high school programs. The most renowned program — which basically all the UWCs run — is their high school program. This is probably the program you are interested in. In this program, students finish their last two years of high school in one of 18 different international boarding schools around the world. Academically, UWC students use the IB Diploma Program curriculum. However, being a student from UWC, you will also have the opportunity to learn to use the UWC model. It is an experience that will involve you in every aspect of your life — from academics to extracurriculars to your social and personal life.

2. How many UWCs are there around the world? How much do they cost?

There are 18 different UWCs around the world. Kindly visit the page UWC School and Colleges to know more.

3. Does UWC provide full scholarships?

Yes! UWC provides need-based scholarships ranging from anywhere between 25% to 100%. These fees cover room, board, meals and additional expenses within UWC — they will not, however, cover the travel and personal expenses (i.e laptop).

In the context of Bangladesh, the UWC Bangladesh National Committee offers a number of scholarships seats every year. As a result, not every UWC seat will have a scholarship — some may have 50% scholarships, some may have 100% scholarships, and some may have none. You should check this website to understand how scholarship seats were allocated last year. The website gets updated for every new intake, so the list will change every year.

Again, UWC scholarships are extremely limited and are offered on the basis of need. The seats themselves are merit-based, so ultimately an applicant needs to be both meritorious enough to secure a seat and have a strong level of financial need to be able to attain a scholarship seat.

4. How do I know if I am eligible?

Very easy:
An applicant has to be a Bangladeshi citizen. Dual citizens can choose to apply through the national committee for their convenience. Further, an applicant has to be anywhere between 16 to 18 years of age on 1st September of the year of entry to the college (i.e if an applicant is applying to enter UWC in 2022, they will have to be between 16 to 18 by 1st of September, 2022). Exceptions can be made — for this, kindly contact the National Committee.

An interested applicant will have to complete (or be in the process of completing) secondary examination such as the IGCSE, SSC and others. As a result, in the time of applying, an applicant should at least be in Grade 10, and the secondary exams should be at least in the next immediate year (COVID-19 may have complicated this). If already completed them – good job and no problem!

5. When does the application cycle begin?

The UWC application cycle always begins in the fall of every year. This year (2021) they are slated to start from September, although this may differ by a month or two depending on the year.

If you are going to start UWC in 2022, with a plan to graduate by 2024 – you will have to apply this year. If you are going to start UWC in 2023, with a plan to graduate by 2025 – you will have to apply next year and so on.

The application cycle starts in September of the year you are applying, and ends by January or February of the next year, when acceptances are rolled out. As a result, there isn’t much of a point in making preparations until the cycle starts in September – the portal will not have updated forms or information, so you should wait till September.

6. How do I apply?

Note: Application processes vary from year to year.

Once the application process begins in September, you should download the forms from the website straight away. You will have about a month or two to complete this – the form should be due around October or November. The application will ask of your general academic details, extracurriculars, essays, recommendations and others.

After this, the National Committee will shortlist successful applications who will move on to the next stage. Shortlisted candidates will go through group activities — this is usually teamwork tasks such as doing a quick presentation together, debates, etc. – as well as an interview with the National Committee where you will be asked questions. The questions can be about anything and everything, from yourself, to knowledge about the world, to the UWC movement and things relevant to it.

7. How selective is UWC?

UWC is quite selective in Bangladesh — between a hundred to two hundred people apply every year for only twenty-something seats. Selection is made on the basis of merit — the culmination of your application, group discussion and interview processes — as well as the assessment of your financial need, after which all seats are allocated.

8. What is the IBDP?

The IBDP is a two year high school curriculum that serves as an alternative to A Levels/HSC/others. Compared to other curriculums, it has a deeper focus on research, presentations and alternative form of assessments. In the IBDP, you will be asked to take a breadth of subjects:

· 1 First Language

· 1 Second Language

· 1 Social Science / Humanities

· 1 Natural Science

· 1 Mathematics

· 1 Art (although this can be substituted for, say, another Social Science/Humanities/Natural Science).

The IB takes exams at the end of the two years, and it has a deeper reliance on coursework – you will have to do research assignments and presentations for almost every subject, for example. It also has extracurriculars built in as an academic requirement, along with an Extended Essay (self-directed research you do on a topic of your choice) and a subject called the Theory of Knowledge. The IBDP is scored out of 45 points – your subjects are scored out of 7 points, and your Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge together constitute 3 points.

9. Do I need to be good at English to get into UWC?

No! Although some English proficiency is encouraged, UWC is very supportive (i.e in having English learning bridge courses for students) in this regard, so you won’t have to go through too many hurdles if you are not that good in English.

10. What makes a good UWC candidate?

A lot of people will tell you that this is ECAs or great grades or something – but that’s far from the truth. UWC practices holistic admissions, which means that it judges students by their entire application, as opposed to fixed parts. As a result, you don’t have to worry about getting perfect grades or killer ECAs – your focus has to be on portraying yourself in the best possible manner. UWC looks for students who are ready to pursue the UWC mission and adopt UWC values throughout their lives. As a result, an ideal UWC candidate is someone who is open to learning and is already exhibiting some of the UWC values in the way they are as a person – this might be reflected through their ECAs, grades, essays, etc. To be a good UWC candidate, focus on presenting yourself in the context of the UWC mission and values in the best possible way.

11. Are there any fixed requirements (i.e cutoffs) for UWC students?

No! A lot of people worry that there is a grade requirement for UWCs but there is not. Although good grades are always a plus, there are by no means a must. Half the people I know from UWC got in with the worst grades – they are probably exaggerating – but it goes on to show how grades are not the most important thing at play here.

12. I am a student whose exams have been postponed due to COVID. What do I do?

You can submit your predicted grades in place of your exams. You should submit your results to the National Committee right away after your exams have been taken and results are out. A lot of academic disruption has occurred over the last two years, nonetheless, you should submit whatever transcripts you have between your eighth to tenth grade.

13. Is any UWC campus definitively better than others?

There is no “better” UWC – each of them have very different atmospheres and environments, strengths and weaknesses, and the truth is that people fall in love with all of them. You cannot go wrong with your campus choice, simply put.

14. What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on UWC?

The COVID-19 pandemic had, at first, severely impacted UWC. A lot of us had to come back home, and endure at least a semester online – some of us have had to endure even more At the same time, it has limited the amount of seats and scholarships available due to the economic downturn.

However, over a year since the pandemic started, a lot of UWCs have opened back up, and many students were able to graduate there on time. With the next incoming year, most UWCs (except a few such as Changshu which are still closed to foreign students) look like they are opening back up, although it is contingent on borders and the health situation. Therefore, we are doing our best to reopen a physical, strong UWC experience while keeping in mind the health situation.

All UWCs have appropriate health protocol to prevent transmissions, and if things go well, students will once again be gracing their campuses this year. I am a bit unsure, but this is what I understand so far.

The National Committee’s sessions are currently online, and we hope to physical soon – but that depends on the health and safety situation of Bangladesh. We are hoping for the best. Until then: stay masked, stay at home, stay socially distanced and get your loved ones (and yourself, if you are 18) vaccinated!

15. I am a private student — how do I send transcripts?

You should send mock results from any private tutors you have, as well as any other results between Grades 8 to 10 that you may have from institutions.