New research conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong sheds light on the university destinations and ‘readiness’ of students who graduated from International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools in China between 2002 and 2012. Using destination records for 1,612 students who attended 14 IB World Schools during that period, the researchers found that the majority—71.6%—attended one of the world’s top 500 universities, as ranked by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Of those IB graduates who did not attend one of the top 500, many chose instead to attend one of the world’s top 200 liberal arts colleges—the majority of whom attended a liberal arts college that ranked in the top 50 in the world, while a small percentage of students attended a specialized college or university. Overall, most IB graduates in the cohort attended internationally well-known universities or academically strong institutions.
The research, “A study of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in China: Impact on student preparation for university studies abroad” sought to identify patterns in the university destinations of students who graduated from the IB Diploma Programme (DP) in China. The majority were of Asian descent but were not citizens of China. More than 61% of the cohort chose to attend a university in North America; 51% of the graduates selected a university in the United States.
Researchers found a correlation between higher DP scores and DP student acceptance at higher ranked universities, after controlling for family background. A higher DP score was found to be a strong predictor of university grade point average, suggesting that higher performance in the DP is positively associated with academic success at university in the first two years.
“The results of the China study validate what we have learned anecdotally: IB students are well prepared for university,” says Ian Chambers, IB Director for Asia Pacific. “IB Diploma Programme students aim high, are welcomed by top universities and often attribute their success to their IB studies.”
Interviews and focus groups with teachers and administrators revealed their belief that DP students may have encountered less difficulty in their studies at university due to their hard work in the DP. Quantitative and qualitative results supported the importance of the IB learner profile in fostering skills such as critical thinking and effective communication.
Below is a brief cross-section of the study’s qualitative findings from educators and students:
- Teachers and administrators unanimously believe that the three core components of the DP contribute to a smooth transition to higher education: the CAS component, focusing on volunteer activity, balances students’ academic studies; the extended essay prepares students for writing and research; and the theory of knowledge course encourages cognitive development and maturity.
- Students perceive the extended essay to be a highly important first experience in researching and writing an academic essay. Furthermore, students indicated that they felt well equipped for university study by acquiring time-management skills prior to arrival.
- Teachers and administrators cited the rigor and breadth of the DP curriculum as exceptional preparation for attending a top ranked university.