To mark his 50th birthday, King Willem-Alexander will be honoured with the creation of a Scholarship Fund in his name, which will allow financially less-advantaged Dutch students to attend the Wales-based UWC Atlantic College that he studied at 30 years ago.
King Willem-Alexander attended UWC Atlantic College in South Wales from 1983 to 1985, where he studied for his International Baccalaureate (IB), which the College itself helped to create in the late-1960s.
The creation of the Willem-Alexander Scholarship Endowment Fund will ensure that talented students from less-advantaged communities in the Netherlands are able to follow in their King’s footsteps, by joining the founding College of the international United World Colleges movement.
The scholarships have been made possible thanks to the generous support of UWC Atlantic College alumni, parents of Dutch students and other donors from the Netherlands, who have already raised nearly €700,000 to support the College’s work to realise its mission that “makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”.
The first student to be awarded a scholarship will be Lauro from the Dalton School in The Hague. Lauro was selected by the UWC’s Dutch National Committee. In addition to his studies he volunteers his time to a local non-profit food co-operative, Lekkernassûh, which promotes and provides locally and sustainably sourced food at affordable prices.
Commenting on the creation of the Willem-Alexander Scholarship Endowment Fund, UWC Atlantic College Principal, Peter T Howe, said: “It is our privilege to name this scholarship endowment fund in honour of King Willem-Alexander, who has been one of the UWC’s most loyal supporters following his time here as a student at UWC Atlantic College. On behalf of the international UWC community, we wish the King a happy birthday and the very best for the future.”
Mr Howe, who has previously served as the Head of UWC Atlantic College’s sister college in the Netherlands, UWC Maastricht, continued: “On behalf of all the future students from the Netherlands who will benefit from this fund, I offer our deepest gratitude to all who have given their time and donations to make it possible. You have given more than money, you are enabling the most deserving students the opportunity to experience, and go on to share, all the rewards provided by a truly transformative international education.
“I encourage all students in the Netherlands who dream of making a positive difference to the world they inhabit, to explore how being part of our College of nations can help them achieve their goals. The Willem-Alexander Scholarship Endowment Fund is your chance to make them a reality.”
During their two years at the College’s St Donats Castle campus on the picturesque Welsh Coastline, these students from across the globe live together while studying for their International Baccalaureate. The College’s curriculum is designed to allow students to split their time equally between the rigorous academic studies required for the IB and the College’s own co-curricular programme.
The co-curricular programme enables students to expand their education beyond the classroom and apply it to a host of socially proactive activities, which benefit their local and global communities. Their time at the College could see them work with local charities who support refugees and asylum seekers living in Wales, working on sustainable projects, or working as lifeguards on the beaches of South Wales.
Currently, eleven Dutch students attend UWC Atlantic College as part of a 350-strong international cohort, which represents over 90 nationalities.
Since its founding in 1962, over 270 Dutch nationals have been able to study at UWC Atlantic College. In addition to King Willem-Alexander, other distinguished Dutch alumni include former war correspondent, Aernout van Lynden (class of 1973); NOS correspondent, Joris van Poppel (class of 1996), and Willem de Vogel (class of 1969), whose time at the College saw him become part of the team which helped to create the world’s first rigid inflatable lifeboat (RIB). That revolutionary design was then donated to the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and became known the world over as the Atlantic Class inshore lifeboat.
The College’s boatbuilding legacy continues to this day, with students creating lifesaving rescue boats, which have recently been donated and deployed to aid the Atlantic Pacific refugee rescue efforts off the coast of Lesbos, Greece.