October 11, 2014

UWC Dilijan College Opens in Armenia – the First International School of the UWC Network in Eastern Europe and the CIS

UWC Dilijan College, where 96 students aged 16-18 currently study, will reach full capacity by 2023, when total enrollment will equal 650 students, with the academic staff exceeding 60 teachers.

The international boarding school UWC Dilijan College has opened in Armenia – the first academic institution in Eastern Europe and the CIS to join the United World Colleges network (UWC). This unique project, enjoying the support of over 200 donors--> from different countries, brings a new region to the world educational map. For the first time ever, a school has opened in the post-Soviet space which in the first year of operations has welcomed 96 students from nearly 50 countries – Armenia, Russia and other CIS nations, Europe and Asia, the Middle East and Africa, North and South America and Australia.

Attending the opening ceremony of UWC Dilijan College were the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan, the President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, Founding Patrons of the school, as well as about 1000 guests, many of whom are donors to this unprecedented project. Welcoming remarks to UWC Dilijan College via video messages were given by HRH 
UWC Dilijan College is a large-scale philanthropic initiative. As of opening day, expenditure on the school’s construction, implemented solely through charitable donations, totaled $115m. The second construction phase has an estimated cost of $75m. Additional project outlays (land purchase, architectural-engineering jobs and infrastructural development) are estimated at around $30m for the entire period. The school’s operating budget over the next five years will equal on average $8m annually. The majority of operating expenditures will be covered through income generated from the endowment fund and resources of the scholarship fund.

UWC Dilijan College, where 96 students aged 16-18 currently study, will reach full capacity by 2023, when total enrollment will equal 650 students, with the academic staff exceeding 60 teachers. The academic staff currently has 25 teachers. The post of Founding Head was taken up in January 2014 by John Puddefoot, former Head of the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad (India), Warden of S. Thomas’ College, Sri Lanka, and Deputy Head at Eton College (Great Britain). Teaching is in English under the IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma Programme, recognized by leading universities worldwide. Admission of students aged 13-14 for the IGCSE Programme (an international secondary school qualification) is set to begin in 2017.

“Talented and creative people are the main asset and precondition for the competitiveness of any country, and so education, including pre-university education, is among our paramount activities. The opening of UWC Dilijan College, made possible through the support of the Founding Patrons, demonstrates the potential and transformative character of investments in the social sphere”, said Ruben Vardanyan, Chairman of the Board of Founding Patrons and Co-Founder of RVVZ Foundation. “We are creating an endowment fund, with the income generated thereby to a great extent ensuring provision of scholarships to gifted students and financing of our school’s operating activities. Furthermore, opening an international school in Dilijan will lead to new job creation, upgrading of infrastructure and socio-economic development of the city of Dilijan and the entire region”.

UWC Dilijan College is a philanthropic project of tremendous magnitude. The needs-blind student selection process provides all candidates with equal opportunities and allows for the bringing together of young people who think differently, representing different cultures and possessing vibrant personalities”, emphasized the Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan College and Co-Founder of RVVZ Foundation Veronika Zonabend. “And the fact that parents from 50 countries have sent their children to study in a new school in Armenia is the best testimony to trust in us and our initiative”.

“Located at the junction of Europe and Asia, UWC Dilijan College aims to grant students from various countries new life-changing possibilities. The curricular and extracurricular activities developed by our team are sure to establish UWC Dilijan as a world-leader in education and give students an opportunity to enter the best universities worldwide. Now the academic staff includes 25 teachers from 12 countries many of whom have notable experience of teaching at other UWC colleges,” said John Puddefoot, Founding Head of UWC Dilijan College.

UWC Dilijan College

The international boarding school UWC Dilijan College, a collaborative project of individuals and organizations, is implemented by RVVZ Foundation and the educational initiatives foundation Scholae Mundi. Among the school’s Founding Patrons are the Co-Founder of RVVZ Foundation, entrepreneur and philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan, who is Chairman of the Board of Founding Patrons of UWC Dilijan College, Co-Founder of RVVZ Foundation and Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan College Veronika Zonabend, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board at Rusnano Management Company LLC Vladimir Avetissian and his wife Anna Avetissian, President of RD Group Gagik Adibekyan, Managing Partner and CEO at Flagship Ventures Noubar Afeyan and his wife Anna Afeyan, and Director General at ISD Corporation Oleg Mkrtchan.

The idea to open an international school in Armenia emerged in 2006, while construction began in the spring of 2012. In 2013 200 donors and received the name UWC Dilijan College, as well as gaining the official status of IB World School, securing accreditation to teach under the IB Diploma Programme (International Baccalaureate).

Besides studying the core subjects of the IB Diploma Programme, students of UWC colleges must independently develop and implement a project in the social sphere. To this end, students of UWC Dilijan College may partake in the events of a youth club, where an educational program for residents of Dilijan is in place, as well as in initiatives relating to social development and urban planning.

As of today, operating on the campus of UWC Dilijan College are the facilities of the first phase, with GBA of 37 thou sq.m, including the campus’s main academic and administration building with the most up-to-date teaching equipment, a sports complex and a medical center, a football pitch, volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, boarding houses, multifunctional center and other buildings. The second construction phase is scheduled to end in 2017. GBA of the education complex is to total 69 thou sq.m.

The UWC Movement

The United World Colleges movement was founded in 1962 in Great Britain. The UWC network currently has 14 schools and colleges located in five parts of the world, including UWC Dilijan College in Armenia. Student selection is competitive, taking place via national committees in 150 countries, empowered to select and nominate candidates for fully-funded or partially-funded places or unfunded places in UWC schools.

RVVZ Foundation

RVVZ Foundation is the family foundation of Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend. The foundation’s strategy calls for the development in Russia, Armenia and the post-Soviet space of systematic philanthropy and philanthropy as an efficient industry. All of the foundation’s projects are closely interrelated, making possible a synergistic effect from the initiatives implemented. Selection and implementation of projects are guided by seven core principles: long-term vision and planning spanning several decades; magnitude and emblematic character; global scope and collaboration; multiplier effect; engagement of local communities and resources; best international practices and standards for design and realization of projects creating a new local benchmark; self-sustainability after initial philanthropic investment.

Scholae Mundi

The goal of the charitable foundation Scholae Mundi (Scholae Mundi Foundation CIO), registered in Great Britain, is to assist on a not-for-profit basis the education of students of UWC Dilijan College and other academic institutions, including by providing or helping to provide material funds to study in such institutions; granting scholarships to students of such educational institutions, as well as maintenance allowances or grants.

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