Before you assume that I am opining that Indian year 12 boards especially the ISC to be better than IB, allow me to indicate in clear terms that I am not saying that at all. IB possibly is an advanced curriculum and superior program. The contention of this blog is to talk of IB’s suitability to India… Thats it. Read it and make your own decision.
I am often asked by parents on whether they should opt for a school that offers IB curriculum for their wards. This blog hence is an attempt to consider this question from an Indian perspective.
In Indian Schools that offer the IB Diploma, the curriculum steps in post the Year 10 Indian board. Hence it is safe to conclude that the students who take the Year 10 Indian board have studied in a different delivery model as compared to the IB. It should be easy for most to do this adjustment though can tell you that since it differs from the way many of us are taught through our earlier ten years, it will require some adjustments for some of us.
Many new schools that offer IB give an impression that it is easier to get admission into an Overseas University because of IB as compared to ISC. Having counselled students to overseas options for over 21 years now, I can tell you with full certainty that this is a mere perception only and not really backed by facts. There will only be a few (very few such as Cambridge) Universities and few (very few such as Medicine) courses at certain Universities around the world which may not accept the ISC or the CBSE. Let me also indicate that the admission to the US Universities are based more on the SAT than on the Year 12 board of exams. Hence an ISC student with good SAT has the same chance of getting into an US option as an IB student with the same SAT. ISC is well accepted around the world especially where the admission is based on Year 12 board results such as in UK or Australia or NZ or another commonwealth country. For the students who are still not sure, take a look at the website of a “Russell Group” UK University or “Group of Eight” Australian University and you will find the ISC percentage requirement and the IB Score requirement. Compare the two and some may even conclude that the ISC percentage required for admission to be more achievable for an Indian as compared to the IB score required for the same institution especially for an Indian student. (With a percentage of 85-90% in Indian Boards, one can get into most Engineering programs in Commonwealth Countries and is this % difficult to get for a student seeking Engineering!!! If you have 75-85%, most of them will still take you in through pathway options. Hence if this is not so difficult to get in, how does IB make it easier. For US all have to take the SAT.)
The acceptability of the IB Diploma for admission in India is also a huge issue. While the IB website indicates that AIU recognizes IB Diploma as equivalent to Indian Year 12 and also provides us with a copy of the document that states its equivalence, the AIU website still provides an equivalence document that doesnot list this. This can either be due to an un-updated AIU document but at the same time it is clear that the IB is not being given priority by AIU, enough for it to be listed along with other equivalent Year 12 qualifications from around the world. You take a look at the AIU equivalence document as provided on AIU website.
As an Indian student, you may still go by IB claim and accept it as equivalent. However, now comes the issue of acceptability by the various Universities in India. Most Schools that actively took up the IB program are coming to grasp with some cold realities.
- Only a handful of Indian Colleges (not even all Colleges under an University) accept the IB. Where it is accepted too, there is no clear idea on the equivalence of IB score to the Indian board percentage. These colleges are primarily in Mumbai and some in Delhi. One of the Schools based in NCR provides a list of colleges that accepted the IB students in recent past and that list doesnot include even St Stephens which has possibly the more flexible of the entry requirements and which is aspired to by school leavers from elite schools.
- In some cases even if the IB score is accepted, a student is looking at entry only a year later. The reason is that most Indian Colleges close their applications well before the IB results are declared. IB does indicate that there are predited scores provided to the students but doesnot indicate that most of the colleges in India donot accept the predicted scores.
- The schools that offer the IB indicate that students should be able to take the IIT entrance as IB is acceptable. This is also mentioned on the FAQ on their websites. I wonder at this half information. Most IITs will want the final results to be in by June, I understand and this is not possible under IB system. Secondly, IB doesnot prepare the student in the way IIT or most Indian Engineering institutions admit the students and hence the chances of entry is poor and I am yet to come across a student who has joined an IIT after an IB board. It may be difficult after an ISC too but it is not impossible. With IB it seems closer to impossible.
- The entrance exams to various options from Engineering to others happen in the month of May and IB exams clash with these dates. This is another reason for unsuitability of the IB for an Indian student.
Let me put out some posers…
- Did you know that British Engineering Undergrad degrees which are of 3 years duration mayn’t be accepted by AIU to be equivalent to and Indian Engineering degree? You may consider taking a look at my earlier blog on this and also note the comments of the British Council that indicate that the situation “may” change in future.
- Did you know that if you want to work as a Lawyer or Doctor in India, you rather do your first degree which is the eligible qualification in India? Post graduation can be overseas. Overseas qualification will pose a challenge with eligibility in these professions.
- There are talks that the electoral reforms may mean that those contesting an election in India should be “at least” a Bachelors… This may mean that many of the current politicians who have undertaken 3 year Engineering degrees or degrees that resulted due to study partly in India and partly overseas and hence not the full 3 year of normal degree or 4 year of Engineering be considered as “not a Bachelors”. This poses and interesting situation with regards to degrees of elsewhere conducted elsewhere and their validity in India.
- Diplomas in Hotel Management at top Hotel Schools worldwide that also offer an additional component of one year post the diploma that leads to a distance run Bachelors degree are also not considered as Bachelors by Indian guidelines.
- And such equivalences are relevant even to those Indians who are not seeking a job back in India. Yes, even an entrepreneur who wants to set up a Petrol Pump in India (an example) needs an equivalence certificate to demonstrate that his Engineering degree is valid in India and there is a case that I am aware of that even after studying at a top University overseas he has not managed to get one.
It is hence important to refer to the AIU guidelines. Fair or Unfair, this is India.
One of the rationale given by elite schools in India in cajoling their students to opt for the IB curriculum is that it is very difficult to get into Indian top institutions due to low capacity with them and hence it is safe to opt for IB and then proceed on overseas. This is a damaging advise generally. Increasing Capacity of Indian Institutions: The capacities in India for Undergrad options are increasing. The number of IITs, IIITs, NIFTs… have increased and many of the new campuses have begun to admit students. Their quality will improve. There are reforms taking place in India that will give credence to the Year 12 board in Engineering entrance to IITs and reduce the focus for specialized coaching. Must add quickly that the coaching for admission tests are not likely to disappear but with increased requirement also for school percentage, it will decrease. This is the intent. Many of the colleges are also beginning to increase their capacity. For example, St Xaviers in Kolkata has started an evening session for B Com and hence in turn doubling the capacity. This works wonderfully in keeping the cut-offs in check. BIT Mesra has now offered non-Engineering degrees. Similarly there are some quality providers in private sector whose degree has been given equivalence by the AIU. Such as of Amity. Setting up of Universities of Technologies within several states have helped regulate a number of private institutions too and lift their standards. Happening already and the example are the various colleges under WBUT which did not exist a few years ago. More work is to be done but it is indeed the current focus. Don’t rule your Indian options out. Don’t assume that you will only be studying overseas for your undergrad when you are in Year 9 or 10. Maybe you will or maybe you will study overseas at the Postgrad level. This decision should be taken a little later.
My summary comments:
ISC or CBSE are far preferable to an IB for an Indian student. All options in India are open for such a student while almost all options open internationally to IB students are also open to them. For admission to better US Universities, students from ISC or CBSE have to take the SAT and so do IB students. No differential. Some say that IB students take less time to undertake the degree overseas as they get credits. This is nothing but a marketing hype. The credits don’t ‘normally’ lead to less time. In some cases, students replace the credits with other subjects or other interests and I am told that students from ISC and CBSE can also get the same credits if they claim the same. An Indian student who is planning his school education with the aim to study overseas thereafter is alright but one who is planning his/her school education knowing clearly that he/she may not be able to apply in India is making a huge mistake. For some students, the costs for overseas education means that it is considered only at the PG level. The cost for Undergraduate education overseas can be anywhere from Rs 50 Lakhs to Rs 1 crore and beyond which only a few families can budget. Others keep this saving for use at the Masters level. There are students who can afford this without much issue but I have not come across a school that clearly prepares the parents of students in Year 10 for it in terms of this expected funding prior to selling the IB option to their wards. For all professional fields such as Engineering, Medicine, Law … it is far more advisable to keep the Indian options open at all times as these professions requires you to do the first degree in India or else you have to later clear screening requirements which is not easy. And the final thought that even with all planning it can happen that some emergencies or visa difficulties may lead to your plans for overseas education to be altered at the last moment and then you may have to consider doing your undergrad in India. I have seen it in reality. Hence, despite the fact that IB “may” be a better board and curriculum, ISC or CBSE are more suited for India and Indian students. Maybe it will all change in five years but at this time s; This is what I advise as a counsellor.