Related people: WISERD, Chris Taylor

Research Director, Professor Chris Taylor presented his findings on the relationship between the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma (WBQ) and Higher Education (HE) at Cardiff University’s Policy Café last night (26th March).

The event followed the release of the report: Relationships between the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma (WBQ) and Higher Education (HE) from the Welsh Government on Monday.  Professor Taylor presented his research into the WBQ effectiveness in preparing young people for Higher Education.  The report, funded by the Welsh Government, demonstrates that the WBQ and access to and progress at University are inextricably linked.

‘There is strong evidence to suggest that the WBQ is enormously valuable in helping students to enter Higher Education, and particularly in to leading universities.  We found that of those who progress in to Higher Education, those with the WBQ are 31% more likely to attend a Russell Group university,’ says Professor Taylor. ‘However, the evaluation also finds evidence to suggest that students with the WBQ Core find they are 15% less likely to achieve a ‘good’ degree result than equivalent students without the WBQ Core, once they are at University.’

Professor Taylor summarised that whilst having the WBQ seems to improve the probability of getting in to University (as those with the WBQ are more than twice as likely to participate in HE than students without the WBQ), all other things being equal, this advantage seems to come at the expense of the progress they make once in University.

The development and successful implementation of the qualification, introduced in September 2003, came in response to UK and international debates about the most effective ways of preparing young people for Higher Education.

The WBQ involves a distinctive approach to the organisation of the curriculum (and associated assessment), combining significant elements of general and/or vocational education with the development of key skills, research/analysis through the Individual Investigation, knowledge of Wales’ culture and its place in Europe and the wider world and wider social and work related competences (the Core, comprising bespoke provision for the WBQ).

‘It would seem there are three areas of improvement needed for the WBQ.  These are the way the WBQ is promoted and delivered, making it more challenging, and greater tailoring of the content to particular needs of students,’ concludes Professor Taylor. ‘But equally, further monitoring and analysis is required, as more students in Wales undertake the WBQ, in order to understand fully the relationships between the WBQ and University participation and progress.’

To view the Welsh Government report click here.


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