Havant College drops tougher new award because universities ignore it

22/6/2011    AN''Havant College Principle John McDougall pictured for the OFSTED report ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (112227-5)
22/6/2011 AN''Havant College Principle John McDougall pictured for the OFSTED report ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (112227-5)

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THE principal at Havant College has dropped the International Baccalaureate after claiming universities are biased against it.

John McDougall, admits he is sad to be discontinuing the qualification, which consists of six academic subjects, an extended essay and an element of community work, music or team sport.

But after 50 per cent of his first batch of IB students were rejected from their first choice of universities this year after being made more demanding offers than their A-level peers, Mr McDougall, pictured, has called it a day.

He said: ‘If they were treated more fairly in the eyes of university admissions, it might have been worth investing in for the long term.

‘But it is an expensive course to run as there are so few students doing the IB – 95 per cent of our students are doing A-levels – and this year’s university offers have exposed an overwhelming disadvantage.

‘University admission tutors have favoured the A-level counterparts by giving IB students much tougher offers, which is very unfair.

‘One student, for example, got 32 points in the IB, the equivalent to three A*s at A-level, but their offer was 36 points and they were rejected by their university of first choice.

‘Another was offered a place at Cambridge, but on 41 points – nine points higher than the maximum score an A-level student can get. It’s something like the equivalent of seven A*s at A-level.

‘I’ve seen our IB students work much harder than most A-level students.

‘They’ve had no free periods and no breaks, but they have not been recognised or given credit for it.

‘The inequality of the admissions system is incredibly disappointing and we’re sorry to be losing a much more rounded qualification that develops a whole range of skills that universities would really appreciate.

‘But I couldn’t look a parent in the eye and say this is the best route into higher education.’

This year, about half of all 16 IB students at Havant College, the only state school that provides the qualification locally, who applied to go to university did not gain a place at their first choice.

However 14 of them were subsequently accepted at other universities, and one has won a deferred place.

Current IB students at Havant College, that count for 25 out of 1,300 students, will be the last.

Mr McDougall added: ‘Thankfully the vast majority of IB students who wanted to enter university this year will do so.

‘But many are accepting second choices.

‘They are often losing places to A-level students who have done less well when judged by points.’

From September, the college will introduce the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance Baccalaureate.

That comprises three A-levels, an AS-level in critical thinking, a community-based activity and an extended essay.