IB ends exam registration fee in bid to widen access

Pupils sitting the International Baccalaureate will no longer pay extra registration fee thanks to effort to widen access

Catherine Lough

The future of the International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate has announced it will eliminate its £137 candidate registration fee in order to ease financial burdens on pupils.

Pupils sitting the International Baccalaureate used to pay a flat fee to register for IB exams in addition to a per-subject fee of £95, or $119.

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The decision is intended to lower the costs of assessment for pupils so that more candidates worldwide can afford additional subject exams or pursue a full IB Diploma programme.

Ending the fee will also help more schools to introduce the IB. There are 5,000 IB schools worldwide and 102 schools offering the IB in the UK.

Dr Siva Kumari, the IB’s director-general, said: "A key part of our mission is to continue developing our organisation for the international student community who are well-rounded, multilingual and open-minded citizens – a new generation educated in ways that enable them to respond thoughtfully to global, national and local challenges.”

"Facing imminent global changes and a new industrial revolution of technology and AI, IB's focus on preparing the future workforce to be agile learners and critical thinkers is more relevant and necessary than ever.”

The IB has also taken steps to ease financial burdens on pupils to widen access to its programme by giving discounts to schools offering three or more IB programmes and expanding investments in professional development for IB teachers, offering some of its courses free of charge.

The IB has funded this through investing in technology to modernise its assessment systems over the past decade, allowing the organisation to pass financial benefits directly to schools and pupils, Ms Kumari said.

Colin Bell, chief executive of the Council of British International Schools (Cobis), said: "This move will potentially result in the continued growth and popularity of the qualification."

"The cost [of registering for the IB] has clearly been a barrier, and this will increase interest in the IB."

Mr Bell said that approximately one in five Cobis schools used the IB, and that it was seen as a "good pathway to universities in the UK and other international HE institutions."

He said the IB was respected by employers and universities alike, and reducing registration costs would help in "maintaining the rigour" of the qualification.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said: "This is a very welcome development because we want to reduce as many obstacles as possible."

"The IB is a high-quality qualification that is respected across the world. If there are barriers [of financial cost] it is good to reduce their height."

However, Mr Lenon said eliminating registration fees "only goes some way" in reducing costs for schools and pupils taking the IB, as the programme required far more contact time than A-level teaching.

Reducing registration fees was a "modestly helpful" proposal, but it did not "remove every financial barrier," Mr Lenon said.

"We all want this to happen – it is a very good course...It's declined in the state sector, and that is partly because of the cost. It's nothing to do with the quality of the programme."

Haif Bannayan, the IB’s director of outreach, said: "We are focused on developing the deep and broad thinkers that the world needs in the fourth industrial revolution.”

“Developing agile and thoughtful learners is fundamental to IB's educational philosophy and that is why we believe that our world-class model for 21st-century workforce development must be more accessible." 

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