International university applicants systematically under-evaluated

December 2nd, 2013

This article is more than 10 years old.

Results from the International Baccalaureate have been undervalued when converted to the Danish equivalent, the Education Ministry has admitted

International Baccalaureate students applying to Danish universities have been treated unfairly, the Education Ministry has admitted.

In a reply to a parliamentary question, the education minister, Morten Østergaard (R), said students who had their IB Diploma marks converted to the Danish upper-secondary equivalent, STX, have been under marked since 2007 – the year Denmark introduced its new seven-point grading scale.

READ MORE: Students give failing marks to current grading system

Wrong distribution
The government converts IB marks to the STX according to a distribution curve based on the students’ predicted performance.

Danish students have consistently performed better than expected, however, with far more students achieving the top marks in the STX than in the IB.

The government did not change the distribution curve to reflect this, however, meaning that IB students were given STX scores that are lower than they should be and hurting their chances of being accepted into a Danish university.

READ MORE: Danish teachers scoff at new British education approach

New fairer conversion
Information newspaper reports that the Education Ministry noticed the distribution imbalance in 2009 but wanted to gather a few years of data before making a change.

The ministry is now addressing the problem and has introduced a new and fairer conversion for IB students applying to Danish universities from this February.

Anders Kloppenborg, chairman of the Danish Association of IB School has actively petitioned the government to change the rules and was pleased by the government’s decision.

Criticism and cooperation
“We have always known it existed and have been talking to the ministry regularly over the past four years,” Kloppenborg told the Copenhagen Post. “I’ve both criticised them and worked with them by providing them with enough information to make the decision. It’s very satisfactory that we have finally got through to where we are now.”

A report from the Education Ministry found that only 72 percent of IB students are accepted into university in Denmark, while 81 percent of STX students are accepted.

Kloppenborg agrees that the new conversion would give IB students a better chance of competing with for a place in Danish universities, but that they should not be seen as displacing Danes.

IB not a competitor
“The IB system was introduced to give Danish and foreign students who didn’t have the language capabilities to take an education that was equivalent to the STX,” Kloppenborg said.

For example, the children of Danes who move abroad often start in international school and are unable to immediately join Danish schools upon their return. The children of foreigners who move to Denmark for a period are also not able to take the STX because they don't speak Danish.

Both benefit from the IB, a Kindergarten to grade-12 programme that culminates with the two-year upper secondary Diploma program that is offered by around 13 public and private schools in Denmark.

Article updated 16:18 on December 2, 2013, to include the quotes from Anders Kloppenborg and clarify the mark-conversion process


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