Higher Education Research

Publication Date

4-2007

Abstract

The number of secondary students completing an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma has risen rapidly in recent years, and the IB is playing an increasing role in preparing people for university study. The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) is interested in universities' perceptions of the IB as a preparation for undergraduate study, and engaged the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to research this area of higher education. The aim of the study was to investigate university representatives' perceptions of the IB Diploma. A key aspect of the research was to determine what university representatives knew about the IB Diploma, and whether they felt it provides a suitable preparation for university study. A further aspect was to examine the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the program, both on its own and in comparison with alternative qualifications, so as to determine how the IB Diploma might be enhanced to better prepare students for university study. It is hoped that the results of the research will help enhance the value of the IB to universities, schools and students. This study must be framed within the wide-ranging work done by the IBO to integrate IB graduates and the IB Diploma into university education. Among other activities, the IBO encourages universities to develop a Recognition Policy, offers universities secure access to the IBO website, and works with tertiary admissions centres and directly with universities. The secure website contains: IB Curriculum guides, past IB examinations, and mark schemes; IB exam results for individual candidates or groups of candidates; and an IB recognition policy. The current analysis should be read with this context in mind. The study commenced in September 2006 and ran until early 2007. In late 2006 a survey was conducted of 644 senior academic and administrative university staff at 47 Australian and New Zealand universities, with 159 usable responses received. Individual interviews were conducted with 11 of the survey respondents in order to capture more detailed information about the perceptions of university representatives. This report presents a consolidated analysis of the survey and interview results, and makes several suggestions on further developments which might be considered by the IBO.

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