Parents of high-achieving students claim the International Baccalaureate diploma is scuppering their chances of getting into top British universities. More than 500 students across four secondary schools will take the diploma for the first time this summer after the English Schools Foundation switched to the IB from A-levels two years ago. Parents claim the move has seriously affected their children's chances of getting into high-ranking universities in the Russell Group of research-led universities, which include Oxford and Cambridge. Guidelines issued by Britain's university entrance system, UCAS, set a score of 360 for three A-levels - the typical minimum for popular degrees at top universities - equivalent to about 28 points in the IB. Yet parents say their children had been quoted 38 points as the minimum by Russell Group members, while other universities quoted scores of 30 or 31 and then revised the figure upwards by three or four points at the conditional offer stage. In January, UCAS released revised scoring guidelines for the IB diploma, which downgrades its value against A-levels, making three As at A-level equivalent to about 29 IB points. The new guidelines, which come into force next year, have been welcomed by ESF leaders as providing reassurance to parents and students concerned at the switch to the IB. An ESF spokesman said 59 per cent of the 150 students who took the IB last year at Sha Tin College achieved a score of 30 or higher - roughly equal to 3 A-levels at grade A under the new guidelines. About 40 per cent of the foundation's students went on to British universities, including those at Sha Tin, which had offered the diploma for some time. But Glyn Davies, whose daughter is taking the diploma at South Island School, said: 'Jenefer has gained an offer from Exeter of 36 points but last summer they were talking about 31. Other universities said they wanted 30 to 31. But all the offers made to her friends at school were around 32 to 36 points. 'UCAS says that where they draw the line for three As is 30 or 31 points. This guideline comes into place in 2010, that's why we feel they could be disadvantaged because the bar has been set very high this year. The talk of the town was 38 to 39 upwards for Oxford and Cambridge.' Another South Island parent, who asked not to be named, said: 'When they switched from A-levels to the IB, the selling point was that this was a better-recognised qualification to get your child into university. That is simply untrue because the points are so much higher and so much more difficult to get.' But ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said the revised guidelines would encourage universities to lower their entry requirements for the IB this year - and Exeter University had already set an upper limit of 36 IB points. 'I think there is a climate of opinion that is growing that recognises the demand for the IB programme and the quality of the educational experience,' she said. 'The guidance seems to reflect that trend in the UK. And if the student missed an offer by the margins, it is quite likely that universities will be influenced by the new guidelines.' A UCAS spokesman said it was up to each individual university to decide whether or not to use the scores and 232 out of 309 in UCAS system currently did so. Other factors were often taken into account too. John Switzer, head of recognition and development at the International Baccalaureate Office in Singapore, said: 'Currently the top universities have indicated that they do not subscribe to the UCAS tariff. Those in the Russell Group typically look for an IB score of 36 points and above. 'For Oxbridge, the student's predicted IB point score is expected to be in the neighbourhood of 38 points upwards.'