The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB programme) is recognised as an international pre-university education preparing students for study abroad.
Entrance to top universities has become increasingly competitive in recent years as more and more countries can afford to send their youth abroad to be educated. These trends mean that students need to prepare well in advance to achieve a quality place at a higher education institution. In some countries, students start early by learning a foreign language from kindergarten age. Achieving fluency in the language will ensure entrance to a foreign university.
As well as developing their academic ability, students who wish to study should consider developing ‘soft skills’, such as leadership, organisation and self management, community-mindedness and communication, all of which are core elements of the ‘International Baccalaureate’ (IB) Diploma qualification, a qualification which has steadily grown in popularity over the past ten years.
The International Baccalaureate, founded in 1968, is an international education programme which is available to a worldwide community of schools. The IB Organisation offers three programmes for students aged three to 19 years: the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma. Each programme places emphasis on developing the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills children need to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalising world.
Because of its international nature, the IB is often favoured by students whose families have relocated or are relocating abroad. Across the world today, there are approximately 752,000 students at 2,732 schools in 138 countries following the IB Diploma programme.
IB programme for students of 16–19 years
The Diploma Programme for students of 16 to 19 years is a demanding two-year curriculum leading to a qualification that is recognised by leading universities around the world.
The IB Diploma is enquiry-based, a method encourages students to ask challenging questions, develop a strong sense of their own identity and culture, and develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures.
The combination of qualities developed by the IB Diploma, including self management and creativity, explains why the IB Diploma is considered a solid preparation for university-style learning. Over 60 percent of admissions officers in the UK claim that the IB develops self-management skills more effectively than more traditionally-used educational programmes.
The IB programme in schools
Schools teach the IB programme either in English, French and/or Spanish and students can study six subjects selected from subject groups, three at standard level and three at higher level. This must include a second language, maths and science.
There are also three additional core requirements: extended essay – a 4,000 word essay on a topic of the students choice; theory of knowledge – a course exploring the nature of knowledge across disciplines, encouraging an appreciation of other cultural perspectives; creativity, action and service – a course which requires students to complete 150 hours of work outside purely academic learning. It can include artistic pursuits, sports and community service work.
IB Diploma’s popularity in Europe
The qualification has recently come to the forefront of the education agenda in the UK and it is also increasingly recognised by the world’s universities including those in European countries such as Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Forty-six IB World Schools offer the IB Diploma in Spain. Since June 2008, the IB has been recognised as the equivalent to the Spanish high-school qualification
Eleven schools offer the IB Diploma in France, and since 1985 the qualification has been one of the foreign diplomas that allow students access to French universities.
Thirty-five schools offer the IB Diploma in Germany, however, there are certain conditions placed on IB Diploma students to allow them access to German universities, including a minimum requirement for a foreign language, maths and science.
Five schools offer the IB Diploma in Belgium, and the qualification has been recognised as the equivalent to the Flemish Secondary School leaving certificate since 1973. This allows IB students access to higher education in Belgium without restriction.
Fourteen schools offer the IB Diploma in the Netherlands, although there are minimum entry requirements for IB students wishing to attend Dutch universities.
Twenty-seven schools offer the IB Diploma in Switzerland and many universities there accept the qualification, although impose minimum entry requirements.
A hundred and ninety schools offer the IB Diploma in the UK. However, as UK universities are autonomous, they set minimum entry requirements for IB Diploma and A-level students.
In an internationally mobile world, the International Baccalaureate Diploma is a passport to a achieving a globally competitive education. In addition to an international curriculum, the IB is believed to give students a genuinely international outlook, an understanding and appreciation of different cultures and a sense of being a good global citizen, preparing them for future study and employment all around the world.
For more information about the International Baccalaureate Diploma and to find an international school please visit: www.ibo.org.