IB best for ‘encouraging a global outlook’ and ‘nurturing an open mind’ says report.

Survey of university admissions officers highlights the differences as first summer exam results break.

With exams over and a long summer awaiting results well underway, first to be put out of their misery are International Baccalaureate (IB) students who receive their results yesterday (6 July).

Considered by many an excellent alternative to A levels and other post-16 qualifications, ACS International Schools and IBSCA (IB Schools and Colleges Association) have explored how the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) compares to A levels in the latest annual survey of UK University Admissions Officers.

Invited to rate both qualifications on their ability to develop a different range of qualities in students, the percentage of admissions officers scoring the different qualifications as ‘well or very well’ highlighted considerable disparity between the two main study programmes.

While the IBDP is top for ‘encouraging independent inquiry’, with 94 per cent of admissions officers saying the qualification develops this ‘well or very well’ in its students, A levels lag behind considerably in this respect with just 49 per cent of officers giving them a similar rating.

The IB also has the edge when considering how well the two qualifications prepare students to thrive at university but both perform well. The IB is given an outstanding 100 per cent ‘well or very well’ rating by admission officers, while A levels score ninety per cent.

One area where A levels are seen to be better, however, is developing ‘in-depth subject expertise’, with A levels cited by 94 per cent as developing this ‘well or very well’, compared to 56 per cent for the IBDP.

The most dramatic and perhaps significant differences between the two qualifications, especially given current events, concern ‘encouraging a global outlook’ for which the IBDP received the top ‘well or very well’ rating from 97 per cent of officers. This compares to a woeful seven per cent for A levels.

Nine in ten, 93 per cent, of admissions officers also consider that the IB helps ‘nurture an open mind’ well or very well, compared to just 24 per cent who think the same of A levels.

“In today’s increasingly fractious and challenging world, encouraging a global outlook and nurturing an open mind must surely take a greater significance in schools than ever before, and it’s interesting to see how highly the IB is considered in this respect,” said Jeremy Lewis, Head of School, ACS Egham International School.

“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,” said Sandra Morton, Chief Executive, IBSCA.

The Research: The research was conducted through telephone interviews with 81 university admissions officers at different universities across the UK from March 8th – April 21st 2017

The survey was carried out on behalf of ACS International Schools, IBSCA by an independent organisation working to Market Research Society (MRS) standards.

About The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP): The IBDP is a two year period of study for students aged 16 – 19. Diploma results are published online from July 6th showing a final score out of 45. Students study courses from six subject groups, three at a Higher Level and three at a Standard Level, with continuous study of maths and a foreign language required. In addition three core elements, ‘Theory of Knowledge,’ an extended essay and ‘Creativity, action and service’ must be undertaken to achieve a Diploma.

About ACS International Schools: ACS International Schools, founded in 1967, serves international and local communities in the areas surrounding its four schools ACS Cobham, ACS Egham and ACS Hillingdon in the UK, and ACS Doha in Qatar. ACS Cobham is the largest private school in Surrey and the largest international school in the UK, although the second largest cohort of its pupils is British. The Egham campus is the only school in the UK to offer all four IB programmes.

About IBSCA: IBSCA is the International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Association of the UK and Ireland. Membership is open to all UK and Ireland schools and colleges which are recognised as IB World Schools.

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