History of LPCUWC
United World Colleges originated in the late 1950s in the ideas of the German educationalist, Kurt Hahn, founder of Salem School in Germany, Gordonstoun School in Scotland, and the Outward Bound Trust.
While speaking at a meeting at the NATO Defence College in Paris, Hahn had seen former enemies working towards new common goals. He realized how much more could be done to overcome the hostility of the Cold War if young people from different countries could be brought together in a similar way. Hahn and a number of like-minded colleagues developed the concept of a college for students aged 16 to 18 who were already grounded in their own cultures but impressionable enough to learn from others.
Drawn from all nations, the students would be selected purely on merit, regardless of race, religion, nationality, background or financial means. The result was the first UWC, Atlantic College, which opened in 1962. The idea spread, and inspired visionaries in other countries towards the idea of starting more UWCs.
Because the UWCs were catering for a diverse international community, the need was seen for a curriculum programme that would qualify students for entry into universities anywhere in the world. At that time, no such international credential existed, and so with the establishment of the early UWCs and some other pioneering international schools, the International Baccalaureate was born. Indeed, several people who helped begin the UWCs were instrumental in establishing the IB Diploma. The early development of the UWCs and the IB were interdependent, and many aspects of the IB philosophy (especially the TOK and CAS dimensions) are integral to the thinking behind the UWCs. The UWCs pioneered the IB, and the UWCs remain an innovative force within IB programmes.
The concept of an international movement gathered momentum during the 1970s under the Presidency of Lord Mountbatten, and many national committees were established to promote UWCs within their own countries and to select students for the colleges. As more students experienced a UWC education, the size of the UWC graduate community grew.
In 1978, Lord Mountbatten passed the presidency to HRH The Prince of Wales who, during his term as President, officially opened several new Colleges, including Li Po Chun UWC of Hong Kong. In 1995, Prince Charles was succeeded by HM Queen Noor of Jordan and President Nelson Mandela (whose own children and grandchildren attended Waterford KaMhlaba UWC).
Since the movement’s foundation in 1962, United World Colleges students have come from 177 countries, and the list continues to grow. Today, the UWC movement is an international NGO in Operational Relations with UNESCO and has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
[Summarised from the publication “United World Colleges – An Overview”, 2003]
The birth of LPCUWC can be traced back to 1978 when Dr Lee Quo-Wei GBM JP (Sir Q W Lee) was Chairman of the Selection Committee that was choosing Hong Kong students to study in UWCs overseas. He was deeply impressed by the calibre of UWC graduates and their contributions to society. Even after he left the Committee in 1982, his devotion to the UWC movement remained strong, and he dreamt of establishing a UWC in China. The concept of opening a United World College in Hong Kong was initiated around 1987 by Sir Q W Lee (by that time Executive Chairman of the Hang Seng Bank) and Mr Li Shiu Tsang MBE JP, whose family had set up the Li Po Chun Charitable Trust, which remains a major provider of educational grants in Hong Kong. The trust was named after Li Po Chun (died in 1963), a prominent Hong Kong businessman and philanthropist. The idea to open a UWC in Hong Kong received enthusiastic support from Sir David Wilson , then Governor of Hong Kong, and Mr David Sutcliffe, then Principal of Atlantic College in Wales. A trust fund was established in Lord Wilson’s name that still provides scholarships exclusively to enable students to come to the College.
Members of the founding Board visited other United World Colleges as did the architects chosen to build the College, and the founding Principal of Pearson college, Jack Matthews, visited Hong Kong to help develop and advise on the basic ethos and organisation of the College programme. After several sites were considered and following long negotiations, the present large site – an area from which rocks had been quarried to build the wall of Plover Cover Reservoir , as seen by the steep slope down to the Sports Centre – was gifted to the College by the Government of Hong Kong on a fifty year lease, with the agreement of the Sino-British Land Commission. At the time the site was selected, the location was quite remote, facing Tolo Channel in one direction and Ma On Shan Country Park in the other, with no substantial urban development or transport infrastructure nearby.
Once funding was secured, building commenced in 1991, the foundation stone being laid by Lord Wilson on 12 February 1992. The College opened to its first students in September 1992, and was formally opened by Prince Charles on 6 November 1992, less than 18 months after the UWC International Board approved the project.
The first staff appointment was Dr David Wilkinson, the founding Principal, initially working out of a hotel suite in Sha Tin, as staff were recruited and the College was equipped in the early part of 1992. Many pioneer staff still serve the College . Dr David Wilkinson left in 1994 to found a school in Bangkok, and has since been appointed founding Principal of the Mahindra United World College of India.
Mr Blair Forster became Principal in August 1994. He served with distinction as Principal for nine years before passing away after a long illness in September 2003. During his time as Principal, the College developed and matured, in accordance with the UWC philosophy. Academic results improved steadily to the point where the College’s IB results were among the best of the UWCs. The Quan Cai programme expanded to embrace a huge range of activities in the areas of creativity, action, service and campus support. An ongoing legacy is the ‘Blair Forster Memorial Trust’, dedicated to providing scholarships to aid young people from East Timor.
Dr Stephen Codrington became Principal in May 2004. Dr Codrington brought extensive experience as an IB Deputy Chief Examiner in Geography as well as a commitment to developing LPCUWC as a bridge of understanding between the cultures of China and the rest of the world. He also began the initiative to establish links between the College and North Korea.
Dr Lee stepped down as Chairman of the Board in April 2000 to be replaced by Dr Li Yuet-ting, CBE, JP, the former Director of Education for Hong Kong. Dr Li Yuet-ting stepped down as Chairman of the Board in December 2007, being replaced by Mr Anthony Tong Kai Hong, BBS.