ACS International Schools and International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Association (IBSCA) commissioned a report to explore how UK university admission officers compare A-levels to the IB Diploma Programme (IB).
Participants were asked to rate both qualifications on their ability to develop certain qualities in students.
The IB Diploma came out on top in every category except ‘developing in-depth subject expertise’. A-levels were cited by 94 per cent as developing this ‘well or very well’, compared with 56 per cent for the IB.
There were considerable disparities in favour of the IB, with 94 per cent of admission officers rating it ‘well or very well’ for ‘encouraging independent enquiry’. The A-levels fell behind in this respect with just 49 per cent of officers giving a similar rating.
The most drastic difference, however, concerned ‘encouraging a global outlook’ for which IB received the top ‘well or very well’ rating from 97 per cent of officers, in comparison with seven per cent for A-levels.
Ninety three per cent of officers also considered that the IB helps ‘nurture an open mind’ ‘well or very well’, compared with just 24 per cent who think the same of A-levels.
Sandra Morton, Chief Executive of IBSCA said, “This year’s research results underpin once again the IB’s long-held reputation as the leading post-16 qualification in the world.
“It is, however, most pertinent this year to highlight its proven commitment to developing citizenship, open mindedness and communication skills as well as its intellectual rigour – qualities which the IB has long delivered on but which have taken on a greater significance in recent months.”
Meanwhile, admission officers also ranked the top factors they think impact on students’ ability to thrive at university.
Not being able to think and learn independently was considered the top challenge, as voted by 89 per cent of officers, closely followed by students being unable to manage workloads – voted for by 88 per cent of participants.
The research was conducted through telephone interviews with 81 university admissions officers at different universities across the UK from March to April 2017.
By Jared Tinslay