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IB Diploma Programme Graduates are More Attractive to Universities

The annual report launched by ACS International Schools, International Baccalaureate Organisation and International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Assocation, has revealed that International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) graduates are more attractive to universities than A-level candidates.

With IBDP results being announced next week, and the first tranche of university places confirmed as UCAS offers are achieved, new research announced today has highlighted that over half, 53 per cent, of British university admissions officers make unconditional offers to applicants who have yet to complete their final exams.

The research also highlighted that universities look for ‘stickability’ in students, where 92 per cent of university admissions officers actively consider the applicants propensity to complete their degree and 42 per cent actively consider an applicant’s likelihood to study to MA or PHD level.

Designed to explore the views of universities admissions officers towards current recruitment issues and different exam systems, the research identified that the three exam systems, A levels, Scottish Highers and the IBDP are all felt to develop this ‘stickability’ equally well, with 83 per cent rating A levels, 81 per cent the IBDP and 81 per cent Scottish Highers as developing a likelihood to complete their degree well or very well in students.

While the majority of university admissions officers say they rate all exams equally, the IDBP is however considered a better preparation to thrive at university than the other exam systems.

Overall which qualification is a better preparation to thrive at university?

A levels 8
Scottish Highers 3
Rate them all equally 51

Only 26 per cent of university admissions officers rate A-levels as developing self management skills well or very well compared to 30 per cent for Scottish Highers and 76 per cent for the IBDP. Similarly 37 per cent say A-levels encourage independent inquiry, compared with 47 per cent for Scottish Highers and 87 per cent for the IBDP.

The three exam systems are only considered equal in one respect, developing in depth subject expertise. Jeremy Lewis, Head of School at ACS Egham said: “Is it really good for the UK’s future – for both universities and business –  if the main exam systems are still only good at one thing – delivering in depth subject expertise? Anyone at work, or at university, will tell you that there is so much more needed to thrive in life and work than just subject knowledge. Only the IBDP offers both the depth and breadth students need.”

A-levels perform poorly against a range of skills often considered important for national and international business competitiveness, as just four per cent of university admissions officers rated A-levels as developing entrepreneurial skills well or very well, compared to 23 per cent for the IBDP, and three per cent for Scottish Highers, while only six per cent rate A-levels as good at developing global awareness and connectivity compared to the IBDP at 80 per cent and Scottish Highers at ten per cent.

Sandra Morton, Chief Executive, IBSCA, added: “There is clearly room for more than one qualification but others could learn a great deal from the IBDP.  Striving for one single measure of learning, subject knowledge, seems too narrow for the 21st century. ”

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