The post-16 qualification landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, with more pathways and certifications on offer than ever before, and the biggest shake-up of the more traditional A-Level pathway seen in over a decade. It has also been amplified during the recent Covid pandemic, with the British curriculum exams situation causing confusion for both parents, students and often university admissions teams.
We’ve long praised the International Baccalaureate Curriculum for its teaching of soft skills for the future workforce, and its introduction of a learning-centred life to its students through the IB learner profile.
But when it comes to the success of a curriculum, the ability of students to enter top universities is just as important as any of these factors. And in this regard, the IB certainly does not disappoint. The International Baccalaureate curriculum definitely provides increased opportunities for its students at universities around the world, and this is easily exemplified by the results of SISD’s alumni.
All UK universities, and in fact universities all around the world, hold the qualification in high-esteem and accept many students with the qualification. Admissions officers regularly support the claim that the IB Diploma provides an excellent preparation for university and the world of work. Leading universities appreciate the fact that IB Diploma results allow them to discriminate between the highest achievers and that, unlike other qualifications, there has been no grade inflation over the last 20 years.
Research commissioned recently by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) compares students entering the UK’s Higher Education system who have studied the IB Diploma, with students who have studied A-Levels. The research found that IB Diploma students have a 57% greater likelihood of attending one of the top 20 UK universities than their A-Level peers – based on data collated from sources such as The Complete University Guide League Table, The Guardian University Guide 2015 and The Times University Guide 2015.
The IB Learner Profile says it all – it aims to create students who are, among other things, inquirers, knowledgeable, critical and creative thinkers, open-minded, and principled. All of these traits are valuable in a discourse-centric university environment, where students will be challenged to think for themselves and develop their own approaches to learning. Because the IB fosters a lifelong love of independent learning, its graduates are well-suited to the university life.
This is in fact validated by many University Admissions officers in the UK, many of whom acknowledge that IB students are better-prepared for University life. Some highlight the maturity, groundedness and research skills of IB graduates that makes them especially suited for university life. Others talk about the academic rigor and creative and critical thinking that is associated with students who studied at IB schools.
The HESA report from the Higher Education Standards Agency also concluded that ‘IB Diploma Programme students are more likely to earn first-class honours degrees than A-level students ’
A recent quote from the Director of Admissions, King’s College London ‘Students who have come to us with an IB education are among the world’s best and are immediately ready for the rigour and depth of our most demanding courses ’
The statistics and facts about the IB’s effectiveness start showing up long before graduation. It’s clear that IB students do better than average in standardised tests, especially in fields such as Mathematics and Science.
Beyond scores, the IB teaches skills that are needed to survive in the real world, like meeting deadlines, thinking critically, developing leadership skills and gaining an awareness of one’s role in the world. The kind of student prepared for this is miles apart than most others their age, and there are studies to show that fact. A recent study out of Oxford University showed that the critical thinking skills of IB students are far greater than others. And if you look at retention rate nationally, based on preparation, IB students tend to finish earlier and with aplomb in their university education.
Research indicates that IB students complete their university undergraduate degrees at a higher rate than their non-IB peers. They also tend to complete them in a shorter period of time. In addition, they participate in a lot of work outside their immediate academics, such as internships, overseas studies, extracurricular student groups, and community service.
In the US, research has shown that 82% of American IBDP graduates immediately started tertiary education, as compared to 66% of the American average. After three years, 62% of these graduates had acquired a four-year degree, compared with 41% of the American average.
What does the IB feel like from a student’s perspective? We have Max Wiedmer, a graduate of Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai, who is currently attending the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. Hailed as one of the best hospitality schools in the world, the EHL has been creating world-class hotel and hospitality managers and administrators since 1893.
Says Max, “The DP helped me a lot with my organization and discipline in regards to my school work and attitude. In university, I find myself more habituated to the workload in university and the concentration that is required to succeed.”
When asked how the subjects he learned in the DP helped him in university, Max said: “Although the subjects I took do not especially correspond with my university choice, I picked up everyday, useful information in each of my subjects. This knowledge is applicable in many fields showing the value and importance of having a large knowledge base.”
Of course, the teachers were no small part of his success: “All throughout the IBDP, my teachers were encouraging and helpful. SISD helped guide me down the career path I wanted to take which greatly helped my confidence and motivation.”
At SISD, we’re no strangers to the success of the IB. In fact, we’re proud to showcase our first graduating cohort, who have been accepted into top university destinations such as Berklee College of Music, University of Amsterdam, and Royal Holloway, University of London. If you’d like to know more about how we prepare our students for life at university, watch our video featuring our Academic Counsellor, Ms. Naima Gauthier.