IB outperforms A-levels

HESA research shows IB students out-perform in race for top UK university placements

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) students have a 57% greater likelihood of attending one of the top 20 UK universities than students who study traditional A-levels, have greater post education prospects and on average earn more than their A-level counterparts, according to findings from a new report.

The report, conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), compares students entering UK higher education from the IB programme with students arriving via the more traditional A-level route.

It also examines key areas of progression from further education to university, including university enrolment and achievement, higher education institution destinations, postgraduate destinations and the salary of leavers once in employment.

University destinations

The data shows that between 2012 and 2013 46% of DP students achieved places to study at a top 20 UK university, compared to 33% of A Level students – 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.

Adrian Kearney, Regional Director Africa, Europe and Middle East at International Baccalaureate, said: “The Diploma Programme develops students who top universities want to recruit: students with expert subject knowledge; with the skills required for academic success – research, essay writing, referencing; and above all, with the spirit of intellectual inquiry and critical thinking, and the ability to challenge, argue and ask questions.”

University achievement

The report shows that DP students have a significantly greater likelihood of earning a first class honours degree compared to their A-level peers (23% versus 19% respectively). DP students are also notably more likely to achieve at least a second-class degree than A-level students.

Postgraduate destinations

Of the students who successfully complete a full-time undergraduate degree at a UK university, DP students are significantly more likely to be engaged in further study, while A-level students are more likely to join the workforce at this point.

At 18%, DP graduates are more likely to be employed in professional, scientific and technical activities, compared to 13% of A-level students.

Salary of leavers

The research also asked graduates to provide an estimate of their total yearly earnings (before tax) to the nearest thousand. The highest average salary for a DP leaver who has studied mathematical sciences at university was £30,000, compared to £22,000 for A-level students who had graduated from the same course.

What do you think – does IB give your students an advantage in an increasingly global marketplace, or is the A-level your preferred route? Send your comments and blogs to the editor!