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Research Developments from ACER

Higher Education

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IB graduates more likely to progress through university

ACER research for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organisation has found that IB Diploma Program (DP) graduates progress through university studies at higher rates than non-IB cohorts.

The study also found that IB DP graduates are more likely than non-IB DP graduates to complete their degree within five years.

IB Graduates in Australian Universities: Entry and Outcomes: A case study of two institutions by ACER Principal Research Fellow Dr Daniel Edwards and ACER Research Fellow Catherine Underwood, examined the postsecondary transition, progression, academic performance and post-university pathways of IB DP graduates undertaking tertiary studies at two Australian universities.

The study, the first of its type commissioned by the IB in Australasia, provides valuable insight into the transition of 154 IB DP graduates as they progressed through their university careers at two universities.

IB graduates were notably more likely than non-IB graduate applicants to be successful in applying for university. However, figures also show that IB graduates are less likely than other applicants to accept their offer and enrol.

This study has offered an initial insight into the relationship between school achievement and university outcomes – showing that the correlations between secondary school grades and performance at university were higher for IB DP graduates when compared to other school completers.

The study found little difference in university achievement between IB and non-IB students when variables such as gender, age, language background and secondary school achievement are taken into account. Essentially, IB students perform as well as other students at university when accounting for demographic characteristics and prior academic achievement.

IB graduates enrolled at one of the universities were more likely to come from high socioeconomic status areas than non-IB graduates. On other comparisons, IB graduates have similar characteristics to the comparable national figures. Data from this university suggest that when student characteristics and secondary school achievement are taken into account, IB students perform at the same levels as non-IB students.

There has been growth in the IB DP in Australia in recent years, with the number of schools offering the IB, the number of students enrolled in the IB and the number of IB DP graduates applying to university all expanding between 2007 and 2011.

While the overall number of IB DP graduates remains in the minority, there is still a need to build a greater understanding of the relationship between IB scores and the standard Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) score for admissions to university. Expanding this research across a wider variety of institutions and students could provide valuable benefits for the IB Organisation and for individual universities who attract IB DP graduates. ■

Read the full report:
IB Graduates in Australian Universities: Entry and Outcomes: A case study of two institutions by Dr Daniel Edwards and Catherine Underwood, is available at <>

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