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

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) students have a 57 percent greater likelihood of attending one of the top 20 UK universities than students who study traditional A Levels. IB students also have greater post education prospects compared to students of matched prior attainment 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 percent of DP students achieved places to study at a top 20 UK university compared to 33 percent 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 percent versus 19 percent respectively). Diploma 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 percent, DP graduates are more likely to be employed in professional, scientific and technical activities, compared to 13 percent of A Level students. A Level alumni surveyed were more likely to be employed in wholesale and retail trade (16 percent) compared to 10 percent of IB 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.

Kearney continued: “The report has shown that Diploma Programme students compare favourably with A Level students at top higher education institutions in the UK, both in terms of achievement and postgraduate destinations, showing that the programme best prepares students for university, but equally as important, for life beyond study too with Diploma Programme students on average having a higher earning potential.”


Please contact Robert Cummings for more information at Robert.cummings@ibo.org

*The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey

Notes to Editors

The IB and HESA report is based on 48,740 IB students and 1,200,930 A Level students enrolled full time for a first degree at UK universities between 2007 and 2013.

The IB students included in the analyses were those with an IB Diploma or at least one IB course qualification. The A Level students were defined as students whose highest qualification on entry was at least three A Levels, double A Levels or Advanced Highers with grades A – E.

About International Baccalaureate

Founded in 1968 the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a non-profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For close to 50 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for their rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently, more than 1,3 million IB students attend over 4,500 schools in 147 countries. To learn more, please visit www.ibo.org.


About the Diploma Programme

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (DP) is an assessed programme for students aged 16 to 19. It is respected by leading universities across the world. Through the programme, schools are able to develop students who have an excellent breadth and depth of knowledge, who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically, student at least two languages, who excel in traditional academic subjects and explore the nature of knowledge through the programme’s unique theory of knowledge course. 

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