The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB program) is recognized as an international pre-university education preparing students for study abroad.
Entrance to top universities is incredibly competitive as more countries can afford to send their youth abroad. This means that students need to prepare well in advance to secure a place at university. 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. These include leadership, organization, 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 Organization offers three programs for students: the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme, and the Diploma. Each program places emphasis on developing the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills children need to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.
Because of its international nature, the IB is attractive students whose families live abroad. Across the world today, there are approximately 752,000 students at 2,732 schools in 138 countries following the IB Diploma program.
IB programme for students of 16–19 years
The Diploma Program is for students of 16 to 19 years. It’s a demanding two-year curriculum leading to a high-quality qualification.
The IB Diploma is inquiry-based. This is a method that 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% of admissions officers in the UK claim that the IB develops self-management skills more effectively than more traditionally-used educational programs.
The IB programme in schools
Schools teach the IB program either in English, French and/or Spanish and students can study six subjects selected from subject groups, three at standard level and three at a higher level. This must include a second language, math, and science.
There are also three additional core requirements: 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 recognized 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 is 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. The qualification is equivalent to the Flemish Secondary School leaving certificate. 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 achieving a globally competitive education. In addition to an international curriculum, the IB gives students a genuinely international outlook, an understanding of different cultures, and a sense of being a good global citizen. This prepares 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.