UK higher education outcomes (2021)

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Vicky Duxbury, Chris Westlake, Will Joice and Emma Jones

Critical thinking skills thumbThis study compares higher education outcomes among students who enter universities in the United Kingdom (UK) with either an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme qualification or an A level qualification. Using data sourced from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the IB examination data system, the sample included all first-year students enrolled for a full-time first degree at a UK higher education institution (HEI) from the academic years 2013–14 to 2018–19. Although there was an increase in IB students attending a UK HEI between 2013–14 and 2018–19, overall, there were many more A level than IB students at UK institutions. The majority of IB students studying at UK HEIs had a domicile outside of the UK while A level students were much more likely to be UK-domiciled. To control for differences in background characteristics and academic preparation of IB and A level students, matched samples were created, allowing for fair comparisons on higher education outcomes in the UK. Results showed that IB diploma students were significantly more likely to attend a top 20 HEI, to graduate with honours and to engage in further study upon graduation.

Research summary (PDF, 649 KB)

Final report (PDF, 6 MB)

Research brief: Long-term trends in DP student outcomes (PDF, 159 KB)