BISP University Counsellors BISP student at BISP University Fair Year 13 wellbeing session at BISP Visitors to BISP University Fair bisp head students 2020
The final year of secondary school is not easily forgotten, but for the class of 2020 it will go down in history. 
BISP’s Year 13 students experienced an unprecedented end to their secondary education. We congratulate them on their fortitude and resilience while acknowledging their many losses — including the chance to sit their final IB examinations and to celebrate their achievements at a formal graduation ceremony. 
While our Year 13s may have missed the opportunity to jointly throw their caps in the air, they stand proudly together and will all receive final grades in July. We wish them all the very best for the future.
In this Ask the Expert, BISP’s University Counsellors, Casey Nolen Jackson and Jacqui Brelsford, discuss where the immediate future lies for many of our Year 13 students as they embark on their next steps and commit to offers from universities around the world.

Why is May a significant month for Year 13 students in the northern hemisphere?

The first week of May is a significant time in the lives of our Year 13 students because this is when final university decisions are being reached and commitments declared. Deposits are being made and visa applications have begun. While students have been committing to universities since January, the process can last many months because some students choose to undertake gap years or military conscriptions and others hope to continue their education in Australia, Singapore and Korea, where the application process begins later. 

By the middle of May, schools are able to announce where some of their Year 13s have chosen to study, which is a very exciting time for the school community. Everyone wants to know where in the world the class of 2020 will go!

Where did the class of 2020 apply for university?

The class of 2020, like all BISP classes, sent applications all around the world: the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, China, France, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and, of course, Thailand. 

What were some of the more popular destinations? 

At this time not all applications have been completed or reviewed, but a rough summary looks like this: The United Kingdom was the most popular country for the class of 2020 applications, with 22 students bidding for 109 different courses and colleges. The United States successfully encouraged 14 students to submit 116 applications. There were 11 students vying for spots in Canada. The University Counselling team anticipates there will be 11 applicants for Australia once the domestic applications are complete. The Netherlands captured the imaginations of eight students in the class of 2020 and four students applied to institutions in France. Italy and Thailand received three applications.

How many applications do students often submit?

International students are generally very flexible and open to studying anywhere. It is not uncommon for international students to elect to apply to multiple countries, keeping their options open with respect to cost, course selection, and post-degree work opportunities.

Approximately, one-third of the BISP class of 2020 applied to two or more countries. As applications tend to reflect cultural diversity, the multiple country strategy is very demanding. Students who choose to explore opportunities in two or three possible countries find it a very eye-opening experience. Students who applied to four or five countries were successful but the process was time-intensive and often stressful.

What courses are the class of 2020 opting to study?

Course selections varied widely this year with students choosing everything from Hospitality to Robotics, Cyber Security to Medicine, as well as the traditional pathways of Business and Liberal Arts.

Many students must wait for final IB Diploma results to confirm their places, others have had their decision deadlines extended due to COVID-19. Here is a snapshot from the list of courses our students hope to pursue:

Anthropology and Information Management at University College London
Architecture at University Arts London
Sports Science at Universities of, Bath, Stirling & Edinburgh
Law at Oxford University
Psychology at Durham University
Management at the London School of Economics
Computer Science at Nottingham University & Technology University Delft
Politics & Economics at the Institute of Political Science (France) & University of Sydney
Veterinary Pre-med at the University of Melbourne
Business & Management at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
Medicine at Humanitas University, Italy
Neuroscience at King’s College London
Economics at McGill University and University of British Columbia
Engineering at Lehigh University & Boston University
Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham
Hospitality in the Hague, Singapore and Switzerland
Interior Design at Instituto Europeo Design in Spain
Information Technology at the University of Manchester
Product Design Engineering at the University of Loughborough
Communication and Media at the University of Leeds
Marketing at Universities of Sussex and Bath
Software Engineering at University of Newcastle
Liberal Arts at Yale-NUS & St Andrew’s University (of Virginia)
Business & Entrepreneurship at the University of Westminster

Is there anything notable from this year’s process?

One thing we learned this year is that the highest-ranked American universities continue to be uncompromising when it comes to admissions. Need-based aid for international students in the USA appears to be a thing of the past.

An additional point for students and parents to note is that athletic recruitment in the US begins, in earnest, in Year 12. While offers of roster spots were secured for our Year 13s, rarely was there a scholarship still available to them. 

Finally, while domestic applications are in decline, international applications to selective (highly ranked) universities are increasing worldwide. This dynamic creates different impressions depending on the lens through which admissions is being viewed. Additionally, COVID-19 will permanently alter higher education. Exactly how, remains to be seen.

Did BISP students secure any scholarships or grants?

Many students received offers of US and Canadian merit-based aid. Sometimes this aid was for athletic ability, but typically, students with good academics, relative to the school’s profile, received merit-based awards. The most significant factor for merit aid beyond academic stability or talent would be the quality of contributions a student makes to the school community. BISP students won a lot of hearts, earning scholarship discounts of between $10,000 and $28,000 USD. 

What advice would you give the class of 2021 in regards to the university application process?

Universities around the world appear to be more accessible as long as students have the appropriate credentials, a clear financial plan and present a good defence of their choice.

Increased accessibility is likely due to the decline in the college-age population, something universities have been anticipating for some time. Students should benefit and take advantage of this. As always, the preference for International Baccalaureate qualifications and a school with a strong reputation makes an incredible difference.

On Saturday 23 May at 2pm, BISP will live stream a ‘virtual’ graduation assembly featuring speeches from our Head Students and Senior Leadership Team. A link will be sent to students on the day. For more information on the IB Diploma at British International School, Phuket, please contact [email protected]