The IB DP is widely perceived as a globally recognised, outstanding international curriculum by a growing number of education scholars and policymakers in South Korea. Recently, education authorities from certain provinces have taken steps to adopt the IB DP in public high schools, contending that the programme will improve and galvanise teaching practices to be student-centred and inquiry-based. It is important to emphasise, however, that this ambitious belief lacks empirical research evidence. To address such research gaps, this study interviewed 13 Korean graduates who participated in the IB DP from a wide range of international schools and currently attend higher education institutes in Korea. Major findings revealed that, contrary to the dominant perceptions in Korea (and probably elsewhere), the participants had ambivalent feelings about the curriculum and instructions of the IB DP. Findings also demonstrated that the participants’ experiences of the international curriculum were affected by local contextual factors such as school ethos, academic culture and belief systems, not just by the educational philosophy of the IB DP. As findings portrayed gaps between the academic principles of the IB DP and experiences of students, this study contends both Korean policymakers and international scholars to carefully consider the potential implications of enacting the IB DP in local school systems. As curriculum change is nestled within a web of global-local dynamics, more context-specific knowledge is needed to understand how students will participate in the IB DP.
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