A-level and the IB Educational system: What is the best system for your children?

A-level and the IB Educational system:
What is the best system for your children?

For decades, many have been torn between A-Levels and IB Diplomas when it comes to offering the best preparation for success at university. Each qualification has a long history, strong advocates, and political influence, making selecting one difficult for parents and students.

However, today we’re going to unravel all the misconceptions and discover which is best based on a variety of different factors. But, before we get into that, let’s discuss how each of the education systems works.

How do A-Levels work?

Advanced Levels (A-Levels) is the UK’s national “end-of-school” qualification most students take after their GCSEs. Students can freely choose three to four subjects ranging from biology to business studies when participating in this education system.

A-levels take two years, which are split into AS-Levels and A2-Levels. AS-Levels are during the first year, and they allow students to prepare for their officially-graded work in the second year (AS-Level). At the end of this year, they’ll be given the option to drop subjects they don’t see a future in. The second-year (A2-level) is the most important. Here, they’ll be working towards their official A-Level qualification.

How does International Baccalaureate (IB) work?

An International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma is for the same age group. The only primary difference is how it’s structured. With an IB, they offer a broad curriculum that’s made up of six subject groups: arts, mathematics, sciences, individuals and societies, language acquisition, language and literature.

Students lack freedom within an IB education because they must fulfil the six subjects mentioned above. The system itself is structured this way to target community, action, and service (CAS). By having a broader range of expertise, students feel more academic.

To pass an IB, you’ll be scored on points. A minimum score of 24 (260 UCAS points) is required for a pass, consisting of the essays themselves and activities such as music, sports, or fundraising.

Which Education system is better for your children?

Now you have a broader understanding of how A-Levels and IB qualifications work, let’s break them down into three significant factors: university acceptance, expertise, and flexibility. These are undoubtedly the most vital elements that need consideration when selecting either option. Here’s what you need to know:

1. University Acceptance

A student’s likelihood of attending university after either education system is remarkably high. Therefore, the most important factor is University acceptance. But, which offers the highest recognition within this field?

Each qualification is recognised globally as higher education. Both are the main reason why students attend specific universities. However, there are many misconceptions based around UK universities and A-Levels. Many worldwide believe that the UK favourites their A-Level qualification, but this isn’t true. Both are looked at the same if they’ve studied the correct subjects.

2. Expertise

Additionally, expertise is another vital element to consider when selecting either A-Levels or IB. Each will offer a higher-level education that’ll provide enough information for the university. However, because each education system is structured, there are undoubtedly advantages and disadvantages when it comes to this sector.

When selecting A-Levels, students can freely choose their subjects which are then later developed in university. By having the freedom of studying whatever they like, the expertise is much more in-depth and allows them to be specialised within a specific area.

An IB diploma is slightly different. We mentioned above that’s it’s mandatory to choose between six other topics. Because of this, they become less specialised in their future self. But this isn’t necessarily a complete negative. Enrolling in this education allows participants to have a broader, more global outlook with inquiry-based situations.

3. Flexibility

The essential part of further education is enjoyment and flexibility. Your son, daughter, and other students must enjoy their extended years of education to maximise success. Although many adore flexibility, some individuals don’t. Therefore, either education will be suitable, but it highly depends on the individual.

An A-Level education will allow students to select the subjects they desire to develop knowledge within. However, because the IB system mandates the six subjects mentioned above, it restricts flexibility tremendously.

Although the A-Level education system is more flexible, it doesn’t mean it’s more beneficial. Typically, students select subjects which they already excel within. But, because the IB system forces pupils to educate themselves on six chosen subjects, it can improve weaknesses in education.

After reading the above, you should understand that both education systems are considered higher education. Because of this, either is superb to obtain. However, it does depend on the individuals learning styles and what they want to achieve in the future.


The above details the main three areas of concern for both parents and students. However, there’s various more, depending on the reader. As a result of this, we’ve broken down a quick-to-read advantages and disadvantages tables, which will allow you to have a broader perspective of each system.

Advantages of A-Level and IB


Students are allowed to study any subject they like in the curriculum, allowing for optimal flexibility.

Pupils studying A-Levels have the option to choose between three of five subjects, allowing them to decide how much they’d like to study.


With an IB education system, it’s mandated to study six subjects. Undoubtedly, this broadens knowledge in various essential areas.

Because students are forced to learn about more subjects, knowledge increases considerably and supports weak areas.

Disadvantages of A-Level and IB


Because of the in-depth studying required by A-Levels, students usually only select three. Doing this lowers to overall knowledge acquired by the pupil.

If the student has selected topics they thought they liked but don’t, they can be unmotivated.


Flexibility doesn’t exist with the IB curriculum, as students are mandated to study subjects they might not even enjoy or want to excel within.

To achieve an IB qualification, it’s considered to be the much harder option between the two.


After reading the above, you should have a more comprehensive idea about which education system might be a more favourable option for yourself or your child. Undoubtedly, both are considered higher education, and it depends on the individuals goals.

A-levels and Brexit: The future of British education

A-levels and Brexit:
The future of British education

Undeniably, the topic of Brexit has been dominating politics since the referendum announcement in 2016. Because of the many drawbacks of making deals and global pandemics, the official leaving date for the UK was pushed back till January 2020.

Many modifications were made throughout these years that made the leaving process more seamless and less destructive. However, that has led to an abundance of unanswered questions in various topics such as A-Levels.

The concerns based around A-Levels for international students are immense. As there’s such a variety, we’ll be addressing the main matters and how these will affect the future of British education.

Will A-Levels Be Affected by Brexit?

International A-Levels students are an integral part of the United Kingdom’s economy. Apart from revenue benefits, they enrich campuses, allow cultural diversity, and help build overseas relationships. However, has this changed after Brexit, and does the education system look different?



Undoubtedly, the most considerable concern that many are worried about is accessibility. The primary reason for Brexit was for the UK to gain more control over their border. With this power, they can control immigration easier from their regulations.

However, this doesn’t mean they’re eliminating international students from entering the country and achieving A-Levels. But what it’s indicating is that it’s somewhat harder to obtain a pre-settled or settled status that allows someone to learn and have access to healthcare in the UK.

A deal was made between the EU and UK through a settlement scheme before Brexit. The scheme allowed non-UK residence from the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland to come (or stay) without applying for a Visa. But this scheme quickly ended on the 30 th of June 2021.

Now, a student will need to apply for a UK visa which does require various mandated requirements such as:

• Adequate money to support themselves
• Enough funds to pay for the course(s) – Or a licensed student sponsor
• 16 years of age or older
• Speak basic English

Notably, you don’t need a visa to study for an A-Level course shorter than six months. The only obligation is that you’re studying at an accredited institution.

Although international students can still attend A-Level Studies, it’s considerably more challenging than ever. But accessibility wasn’t the only concern. Therefore, let’s look at the costs now associated with this type of schooling.


Including the above costs is another fear that’s linked to international students. Although the physical costs of an A-Level course will remain the same (plus inflation), they’ll be more fees connected with overseas students.

The main two are the Visa fees and the uncertainty of employment. The application costs of a UK visa can range massively. Prices can fluctuate depending on the individual situation, but these can cost anywhere between 118 to 1,018 euros.

Additionally, they might want to have a part-time employment role to support their out-of-school lifestyle. Without a permanent residency, it can showcase some issues when applying for a job role. Many businesses look for permanent residency to ensure a stable company. Failing to meet this requirement could showcase when trying to find a job role.

There are some extra costs that an international student can now enter after Brexit. Although these might not seem significant (depending on your situation), it’s undoubtedly still a concern with many overseas parents or students.


The UK’s departure from the EU has left people worried about the creditability of A-Level certificates. Its been a concern for many entering or considering participating in this type of education who are international citizens.

However, despite Brexit, the creditability of A-Levels will remain the same. The recognition of these qualifications is overseen by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and Bologna Process, which they’ve stated that there won’t be any changes in its value.

To conclude this, an A-Level qualification will still be recognised worldwide as a “gold-standard” United Kingdom education today and well into the future. Because of this, A-Level certificates are more than worth obtaining as their value is considered superior globally.


Various EU teachers are required in the UK because of compacity, specialities, and much more. But, with the new rules and regulations in place for pre-settled or settled statuses, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for overseas teachers to work in the UK.

In 2019, the UK felt the pressure of losing many EU workers. It occurred in many industries, but learning was undoubtedly the most worrying. This year alone (pre-Brexit), they saw a decrease in applicants for language teaching by 25%. Considering this was only one of the many topics available
for A-Levels, it’s a substantial amount.

The drop in applicants was because of the requirements needed for a working Visa. They must have a specific amount of money, earn enough, be employed by a licensed employee, and fulfil many more obligations. Combining all these, many EU teaching professionals have looked elsewhere.

When thinking about the above, the quality of teaching within A-Levels could drop. Non-UK teachers play a significant role within the education structure. If this continues to drop further, an increase of pupils per class will become apparent, and teachers’ value could decrease.


After reading the above, you should have a more comprehensive idea about how the education system will change in the future for international A-Level students. Although it’s still achievable for many, the UK has undoubtedly made it more difficult. Additionally, fewer student sponsors are also
being offered because of the mandated requirements a student must fulfil.

After reviewing the above and combining the evidence, we recommend contacting us. W’re an International Academy that offers A-Level courses in Europe and online. Throughout the 20+ years of doing this, we’ve helped thousands of inspiring young individuals achieve A-Levels, along with getting them into their chosen university.

If you’re interested in our services, feel free to enter your information here, and a helpful representative will contact back regarding your request.

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