University Admissions Officers Report 2016: Key Findings

Research commissioned by ACS International Schools, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the IB Schools and Colleges Association (IBSCA) in 2016, asked university admissions officers to rate three exam systems: A Levels, the IB Diploma Programme (DP) and BTEC, ranking them against factors such as ‘encouraging independent enquiry’, ‘encouraging citizenship’, and ‘developing management skills’. The report finds that:

  • UK university admissions officers say the DP provides the best preparation for university for young people in the UK, with 97 percent of admissions officers scoring the DP four or five out of five, compared to 87 percent scoring A Levels similarly
  • The DP ranks top in 14 out of 16 different factors that best prepare students for university from self-management to intercultural skills, creativity and an ability to cope with pressure
  • 100 percent of UK university admissions officers agree that being able to think and learn independently is the most important factor in students being ready and equipped to thrive at university. Admissions officers believe that the DP is the route that most encourages independent enquiry among its students (95 percent), compared to A Levels (48 percent)
  • 63 percent of admissions officers say they would accept a DP student even if they hadn’t completed every aspect of the programme because they appreciate the value of the all-round academic education that the DP offers

The research was conducted through telephone interviews with 81 university admissions officers in the UK and 21 from the USA, between 22 February and 12 April 2016. In the UK, the sample covered a third of all UK universities, including 10 percent Russel Group; 12 percent Milton Plus Group; 16 percent 1994 Group.

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