All students should have the choice to study IB

February 24, 2019
All Australasian students should have access to one of the world’s best school age educational programmes, the International Baccalaureate. Sadly, although the majority of IB Diploma students in the world are in Government schools, in Australasia the opposite is true despite evidence of IB curricula’s capacity to bring out the best in students.

Independent studies have found that Australian universities perceive the International Baccalaureate Diploma as better preparation for tertiary study than non-IB curricula (source).  Other studies conclude that the IB Diploma exceeds Australian Curriculum requirements, providing a greater depth of knowledge than state-developed curricula.  Most Australian teachers with experience of the IB Diploma believe it to be more rigorous and provide better preparation for University than state-developed curricula (source).

The IB Diploma candidate numbers continue to grow in Australasia at around 10-15% per year, but most growth remains in the independent sector where schools have greater freedom to make decisions enabling student achievement.

One of the world’s best pre-university curricula

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme was developed in the mid 1960’s out of concern regarding the direction of national education systems around the world and a desire to provide an independent international curriculum that developed critical, creative, multi-lingual thinkers with a broad knowledge base and genuine appreciation of the different perspectives and contexts found in different cultures. It was designed explicitly to prepare students for tertiary study. 

Research confirms (source) that compared to Australian students who have completed state-based curricula, IB graduates are more likely to:

  • be offered university places
  • complete university studies.

Developed by education experts

The pedagogy of the IB was created by and continues to be developed by educators.  The IB has ongoing systems in place to support independent research to ensure that it remains at the forefront of school-based education. (source)

Throughout the world, many government-sponsored curricular are tightly regulated in terms of what can and cannot be taught. IB Diploma curriculum is independent of partisan influences.  Curriculum content is reviewed in each subject’s seven-year curriculum cycle by world experts in each discipline to ensure accuracy and currency.  The life-span of each Diploma subject is seven years.  Many other curricula have no organised system of review.


International Baccalaureate educational programmes are driven by the IB mission to “develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” (source).

Breadth and depth in the curriculum

All Diploma students are required to complete the Diploma Core:

Students undertaking the IB Diploma courses must enrol in six academic subjects across a broad range of subjects;

Subjects must be taken for two years in most cases. At least three subjects are studied at higher level (greater breadth and depth), with the balance at Standard level.

Rigorous minimum academic standards

To achieve the Diploma, students must achieve a minimum standard across all subjects as well as Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay and completion of CAS.  External assessment occurs in all subjects and involves two or more external examinations, each assessing different skills and knowledge in each subject. External assessment usually contributes around 75% of the final grade in each subject.

Internal assessment (including experiments, research oral presentations etc., which is conducted in schools) contributes around 25% of the final grade. Internal assessment is moderated by IB examiners to ensure academic integrity and consistency of academic standard around the world.

Grades are awarded in each subject from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest) meaning that 42 points are awarded from subjects.  An additional 3 points may be awarded from results in Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge so that the maximum IB Diploma score is 45. 

Students are not awarded the Diploma if they:

  • are found guilty of malpractice
  • have a total score less than 24
  • have achieved an E in either the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge
  • achieve less than an average of 4 in higher level subjects
  • achieve less than an average of 3 in standard level subjects
  • do not satisfactorily complete CAS

A large and growing number of candidates

Worldwide in 2018:

  • Over 100,000 students attempted the IB Diploma. Almost another 100,000 were examined in Diploma subjects (registered as courses, retakes or anticipated students) and did not attempt the Diploma.
  • 327 students achieved a perfect IB score of 45 (0.3% of those eligible for the Diploma, but 0.15% of all candidates)
  • 75% of eligible candidates were awarded the Diploma. Approximately 1 in 4 were not awarded the Diploma. Most students not awarded the Diploma failed to meet the academic standard required. This ratio is relatively unchanged over the last decade. (source). 
  • In 2018, 2,728 Australian and 370 New Zealand candidates attempted the Diploma, a 13% increase over 2017.

Opportunity to appeal, have work returned and question assessment

Students studying the Diploma Programme are able to access their assessment material after completion of the subject, have assessments re-marked and where thought necessary, appeal a result through a clearly outlined process.  Click here to read further. The same opportunity is not available in most state curricula in Australasia.

Independent conversion to ATAR

Australian research confirms that IB scores converted to Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranks (ATARs) have a higher correlation to ATARs from non-IB students (source). 

In Australia IB results for students awarded the Diploma are converted to an ATAR equivalent.  The conversion is calculated each year by the Australian Council of Tertiary Admissions Centres (ACTAC) and is independent of the IB and schools.  The process is carried out in detailed consultation with tertiary admissions centres in NSW (UAC), Victoria (VTAC), South Australia (SATAC) and Queensland (QTAC). ACTAC also determine inter-state conversions to ATAR equivalent. 

The conversion process is explained here. 

The current conversion is found here.

Access to the world’s best universities

Diploma graduates sought after by the world’ best universities in approximately ninety countries.  More than 90 country recognition statements may be found here.

Most of the world’s best Universities post IB Diploma specific information:

Quality professional development

To be authorized as an IB school an ongoing commitment to high-quality professional development is required, ensuring that teachers maintain curriculum knowledge and pedagogical practice at the highest standard.

For more information or feedback please contact IB Schools Australasia