Uniting people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future has been the mission for United World Colleges (UWC) since its foundation in 1962, which has spread across 15 schools worldwide with more than 50,000 alumni, including UWC Dilijan College in Armenia.
Opened last year, UWC Dilijan College in Armenia, is the first academic institution in Eastern Europe and the CIS to join the UWC network and in its first year welcomed 96 students from 48 countries, of which 2 were Georgian, 8 Russian and 10 Armenian. It provides instruction to students aged 16-19 in English under the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program recognized by the world’s best universities.
Founded by Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend, with the support of other founding donors, the biggest advantage of the college is being a large-scale philanthropic initiative making study available to anyone, regardless of their socio-economic background.
John Puddefoot, the Founding Head of the college, explains that the reason for bringing such a school to Armenia is to set a world class benchmark in this part of the world, as well as becoming a ‘window’ for the rest of the world to look into the region. He also noted that expenditure on the school’s construction came entirely from charitable donations, totalling $115 million. Meanwhile, the school’s operating budget over the next five years will average $8 million annually.
Covering 88 hectares of land, UWC Dilijan College is partially located within Dilijan National Park, creating a perfect environment for educational purposes together with outstanding design and all the necessary equipment and infrastructure including a medical center, outdoor and indoor sports facilities and performing arts center.
Tuition fees for UWC Dilijan cost $35,000 per year. However, as the school is founded on donations, it can offer full scholarships for certain students. For instance, 58 students of the current 96 were on 100% grants this academic year.
Daria Brodnikovskaya, representative of UWC National Committees in Russia, Armenia and Georgia, states that there were four places opened for Georgian students last year who were assigned to three different colleges: two to UWC Dilijan, and one to UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany and one to UWC Atlantic College in the UK.
“In 2015 seven more Georgian students will join the UWC community to study a 2-year IB Diploma Program. Three students will begin their studies at UWC Dilijan and one at each of four different colleges: UWC Adriatic in Italy, UWC Maastricht in the Netherlands, UWC Pearson College in Canada and UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany,” she continued.
The reason for the small number of places being offered to Georgian citizens, is the lack of donations from Georgian donors.
Puddefoot states that the college has 25 lecturers from 10 different countries, of which 11 have previously taught in other UWC colleges. However, as 96 other students are coming in August 2015, there will be a need to add to the faculty. While talking about the campus, he notes that gradually the capacity of the college will increase, accommodating up to 252 students.
It should be mentioned that the school grounds were designed by a leading, London-based architectural firm and built from environmentally-friendly materials, and is fitted with the latest technology. Due to this, the college has been recognized by BREEAM – one of the world’s finest standards for sustainable construction, making it the first certified “green” building in Armenia.