United World College of South East Asia

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United World College of South East Asia
Dover, Singapore
Tampines, Singapore

Singapore Singapore
Type International Baccalaureate school
Established 1971
Grades K-12
Affiliation United World Colleges

The United World College of South East Asia (abbreviation: UWCSEA) is a member of the UWC movement and an independent, international school in Singapore. The school has two campuses, Dover and East. UWCSEA is the largest of the 12 United World College (UWC) schools, a movement founded by the German educationalist Kurt Hahn with the mission of bringing together students from all over the world and developing them as global citizens. The UWC movement aims to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.

Since its founding, UWCSEA has offered full secondary school education. In the late-1990s the school expanded and now also offers full primary education. Today the College takes students from the age of four, offering them a holistic education consisting of five interlinking elements: academics, activities, outdoor education, personal and social education and service. The UWCSEA learning programme leads to the (I)GCSE in Grades 9 and 10 and the IB Diploma in Grades 11 and 12. There are more than 3,000 students on Dover Campus and nearly 2,300 on East Campus; once the East Campus reaches full capacity, it will enrol 2,500 students.

UWCSEA is somewhat different from many of its sister colleges in the UWC movement, most of which are wholly boarding institutions which offer only a two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for mainly scholarship students of around 16–19 years of age. UWCSEA admits students from the age of 4 and, the majority of students are children of expatriates in Singapore. There are also more than 300 boarders across both campuses, most of whom come from neighbouring countries in Asia or are children of expatriates living in the region. A small percentage of the students at the College come on scholarships organised by UWC national committees from around the world, or directly by UWCSEA. Singapore government policy prevents most citizens from attending international schools within the country, and therefore UWCSEA has the smallest percentage of local students of any UWC. There are more than 25 nationalities represented in the teaching staff.

UWCSEA was the first UWC to be invited to become a Round Square school, and the Dover Campus is a full member of the Round Square movement, which also shares a commitment to the principles of Kurt Hahn. The East Campus is currently a regional member of Round Square.

UWCSEA has high annual pass rates for GCSE examinations, with 41.5% and 36.2% of students receiving A* on Dover Campus and East Campus respectively in 2013, as compared with UK Independent schools average of 32.0%. The average UWCSEA IB Diploma score in 2013 was 36.5, as compared with the worldwide average of 29.8. The holistic programme also offers extensive sports, drama, music, clubs/societies and leadership activities, along with a challenging outdoor education programme that saw more than 500,000 student hours spent overseas in 2012. At the heart of the mission is a commitment to service, and the College Service programme is widely recognised as a model of how to involve students of all ages in meaningful service to others.

The Good Schools Guide International's review of the school, states that: "This school has a deservedly good reputation academically but offers far more than exam success to its students...This is not a school for those who would be happy to sit on the sidelines...".[1] UWCSEA was named on Lifestyle Boutique's "Top 10 Schools In The World".


In 1970, the site on which UWCSEA's Dover Campus now stands was occupied by the St John's Army School, run by the British Army, but in the light of British military withdrawal from Singapore in 1971, it was due to be vacated. Lord Mountbatten, then the President of the UWC movement, was keen to set up a United World College in Singapore and the Singapore government was equally keen to have a school for the education of the children of expatriates.

The school was opened as the Singapore International School in 1971 in an official opening ceremony attended by Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The Singapore International School was affiliated with the United World College movement, and formally became a member of the movement in 1975, changing its name to the United World College of South East Asia.

Originally a secondary-only school, UWCSEA Dover today has a primary section which takes students as young as four. The total number of students on the Dover Campus (Kindergarten 1 - Grade 12) is now over 3,000.

In 2006, Singapore's former Ambassador to the United Nations and former President of the United Nations Security Council Kishore Mahbubani was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors.

UWCSEA's East Campus opened its doors on 1 September 2008 in a transitional campus in Ang Mo Kio. The East Infant School moved to its permanent home at the Tampines Campus in 2010. Initially a Kindergarten 1 - Grade 4 primary school for 420 students, by 2015 UWCSEA East will offer over 2,500 places to Kindergarten 1 - Grade 12 students, including 160 boarders.


The Dover Campus occupies 11 hectares in a central area of Singapore. Modern and well-equipped, there are a wide range of specialist facilities, including:

  • the multi-purpose main hall, which seats over 400
  • specifically designed rooms for art, drama, and home economics
  • fully equipped laboratories for sciences and languages
  • performance spaces, including two theatre halls seating 200 and 300
  • technology suites to support IT and design curriculum demands
  • two well-resourced libraries equipped to offer a range of services
  • a dedicated University Counselling Centre staffed by full-time specialists
  • music facilities include recording studios, practice rooms, a well developed Instrumental Teaching Programme and instrument hire, as well as opportunity to learn and perform on a Javanese gamelan orchestra
  • extensive sports facilities including two sports halls equipped for a wide range of sports including badminton, basketball, floorball and volleyball; an Olympic-sized swimming pool; fitness centre and gymnasium; flood-lit tennis courts; playing areas - three of them Astroturf - for cricket, hockey, netball, rugby, and soccer; high-ropes course and rock-climbing walls
  • two boarding houses for students aged 12 – 18 (Grades 7 - 12)

Specialist facilities at the East Campus include:

  • integrated IT facilities including campus-wide wireless network and classrooms all fitted with interactive whiteboards
  • sports facilities - Olympic size and learn-to-swim pools, full-size soccer pitch, four sports halls
  • age appropriate, dedicated play grounds for Infant and Junior School students
  • multipurpose halls
  • specialist teaching facilities for Language
  • dedicated specialist Learning Support staff
  • theatres (tiered and black box)
  • multi-purpose halls
  • specialist music studios and teaching facilities
  • art rooms, dark room, ceramics studio
  • fully equipped design technology workshops
  • drama and performing arts spaces
  • home economics facilities
  • two libraries equipped as state-of-the-art resource centres
  • IT and computer labs
  • language labs
  • science labs
  • modern, purpose built boarding house for students aged 12 – 18 (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Infant School has 21 classrooms with an average floor area of 76 square metres and a maximum of 23 students per class

Service, Activities and Outdoor Education[edit]

Students in all grades are involved in service projects, which fall into three categories:

  • 'School Service', within the College community (for example coaching students in younger grades)
  • 'Local Service', within the Singapore community (for example visiting hospices)
  • 'Global Service', within the region via the school's Global Concerns programme

Within the Singapore community, UWCSEA supports over 80 social services programmes, working with groups such as with disadvantaged children, the aged, and the disabled. This programme is introduced as early as Grade 3, and becomes a fundamental aspect of the curriculum from High School onwards.

Global Concerns represent a number of organisations within UWCSEA that seek to integrate an awareness of global development, educational and environmental issues into the College's education programme, supplementing the College values. These programs likewise become integral aspects of education within the College. Global Concerns projects are usually linked with an associated organization within the target country, allowing students to work towards a goal and subsequently see their efforts put into action.

Initiative for Peace was founded by a group of students and teachers at UWCSEA in 2001 as an action-based programme that extends beyond the UWC movement. It offers UWCSEA students the opportunity to promote international understanding and reconciliation in areas of conflict, such as Timor Leste.

United Nations Day celebrations are a major event at the school each year, marked by cultural performances and an international food fair. UWCSEA celebrates a UWC Day each year, undertaking activities in order to raise awareness of the mission of the UWC movement and the values of UWCSEA.

Expeditions out of Singapore are a major emphasis of the school's education programme. Students begin preparation in Grade 1, with a sleepover in their classroom and annual expeditions outside of Singapore begin in Grade 3. As they move through the school, they begin travelling further and further afield, culminating in a Project Week in the first year of the IBDP (Grade 11). The College also offers outdoor educational experiences to enhance students' classroom experiences with cross curricular teaching and opportunities for learning outside of the classroom.

Project Week, which is compulsory for all Grade 11 students, requires students to undertake self-organised, low-cost travel group educational trips, normally outside Singapore. The trip generally lasts a week and can be oriented according to the group's consensus - usually either a service-based trip, where students work in schools, orphanages, animal sanctuaries and so on, putting into action the service work emphasised by the College, or action-based trips, where students tackle personal challenges such as a climbing mountains or trekking across a countryside. The students organise the entire trip and manage their own money.

The sports programme allows all students to participate, and provides competitive opportunities for the most committed. Both campuses have sports facilities such as an Olympic-sized swimming pool and training pool, astro turf and two grass pitches, tennis courts (Dover), sports halls with basketball/volleyball courts, a gymnasium and fitness centre, a high-ropes course and rock-climbing walls. The Dover Campus maintains teams in tennis, netball, rugby union, badminton, basketball, swimming, football, gymnastics, volleyball, floorball, athletics, sailing, and cricket. These activities usually include competitions that the students will take part in during the course of the year, such as SEASAC. There are also sporting activities run by the staff such as kickboxing, golf, rock-climbing, sailing and canoeing.

Competitively, the school has also acquired a good reputation on Singapore's inter-school debating circuit. In 2007, the school's team won the first season of The Arena – a nationally televised debate tournament in Singapore.

UWCSEA has a highly active music department and there are musical ensembles that students can join. The Symphonic band (Brass and Woodwind), Percussion Ensemble, Jazz band, Senior String orchestra and Singers are available for participation by senior students (Grade 7 and above) of all skill levels, though auditions are required for some. Vocalists in Grade 11 and 12 can join Cantabile, the school's a cappella vocal group. Auditions are required for this, and acceptance is limited.

There are also intermediate and junior music ensembles available for junior players. There is a performance held by the College every school term (three per year), an example being the annual Dover Campus OPUS concert, held at the Esplanade Theatre. In addition, there are opportunities for students (especially those aiming to study music) to perform in Chamber concerts as part of smaller ensembles.

The school's drama department presents productions at the school's theatres, including Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Cloudstreet, Sweet Charity and Oliver!.

UWCSEA's Gap Year programme offers opportunities to put UWC values into practice in Southeast Asia before going to university, with opportunities to work for human rights, environmental and child protection NGOs, all of whom have direct connections to UWCSEA, either through Global Concerns or SEALinks. 2008 saw 16 UWCSEA volunteers undertake Gap Year placements in Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia.

Notable Alumni[edit]


  • As of May 4, 2012, the new official Mascots for the United World College of South East Asia are the Dragon and the Phoenix. They represent the Yin and the Yang (see Yin and yang) in Asian mythology, and the East (Tampines Campus) is represented by the Dragon, while Dover bears the mascot of the Phoenix.



  1. ^ http://gsgi.co.uk/countries/singapore/united-world-college-of-south-east-asia?

External links[edit]