Moving from elite international schools to the world's elite universities: A critical perspective

Moo Sung LEE, Ewan Wright

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how elite International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) schools in China function as a channel for international student mobility to leading universities around the world.
    Design/methodology/approach – To achieve this, the authors conducted a mixed-methods study combining quantitative analysis of 1,622 students’ university destinations and qualitative analysis of interview data from five high performing and high tuition fee IBDP schools in China.
    Findings – Results indicate that the IBDP in China can be conducive to a form of “elite international student mobility” for some students with 30 percent of participants attending one of the top 50 ranked universities globally. As an explanation, interview data points to the strong reputation of the program, the provision of structured opportunities for students to demonstrate “additional skills,” and the abundant resources of elite schools.
    Originality/value – The authors provide a critical discussion about the implications of the IBDP’s function for “elite international student mobility” in connection with social contexts surrounding these international International Baccalaureate schools in China. In so doing, the discussion tackles two issues from a critical perspective: the role elite international schools in accelerating educational inequalities and challenges to authentic learning experience when elite schools play the “university admissions game.”
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)120-136
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Education and Development
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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