Becoming a new IBO member

Take part in the premier life science competition! IBO has been growing steadily over the last three decades: Every year, we have candidates that start the process of becoming a new IBO member. IBO members are National Biology Olympiads that represent either countries or regions. An important step towards becoming an IBO member is to finish setting up the national biology competition or adapt existing competitions to IBO’s rules & guidelines. We are always happy to help!

Membership candidates are required to attend one IBO without students (observer year) to learn about the event and how to best prepare their students. After getting approved by IBO’s Annual General Meeting, the observer becomes a pending IBO member that now has to complete any remaining membership requirements. Once completed, the new IBO member can return with its first student team to the next IBO.

Depending on the development status of your national competition, it usually takes between 1.5 and 3 years between first contact with IBO and the first time your students enter the stage of an IBO. If you are interested, please contact us.

Interested in some more details? The process of becoming an IBO member is roughly this:

  1. First contact with IBO to inform us about your national biology olympiad’s (NBO) interest of becoming an IBO member
  2. The national coordinator familiarizes herself/himself with IBO’s Articles of Association & Operational Guidelines to learn about the requirements for becoming an IBO member (i.e., guidelines for setting up an NBO), the internal processes of IBO and about which students are allowed to participate in IBO.
  3. Support to the NBO for joining IBO is requested from the Ministry of Education of the respective nation. Beginning this step early is crucial, as each NBO later on needs to provide a letter of support from the Ministry of Education, stating which organization is in charge of conducting the team selection for IBO. This is especially relevant for countries in which more than one institution might be interested in selecting students for IBO. As only one team per nation is allowed in IBO, please consider collaboration! Furthermore, the Ministry has to confirm that the NBO selection process is in line with IBO's rules & regulations. In many IBO member countries, the Ministry of Education also finances the costs of participating in IBO, so it’s worthwhile to bring this topic up, as well. As a rule of thumb, IBO member candidates should calculate 300 Euro membership fee / year. In those years where a team wants to go to an IBO, the team should also calculate ca. 2000-2500 Euro participation fees (including 2 adults + 4 students), as well as travelling and insurance costs to go to the IBO.
  4. Provision, review and revision of a preliminary description of the NBO. In collaboration with the IBO Office and the IBO Steering Committee, the IBO member candidate describes its NBO structures & processes on a template provided by the IBO Office. The Steering Committee checks this description regarding its alignment with IBO's rules (e.g., student training, eligibility of participants) and asks the IBO member candidate for revisions, often in several cycles.
  5. Once the draft NBO description is accepted by IBO's Steering Committee, the IBO member candidate is eligible to participate in the following IBO (or later) as an Observer. Usually, one or two representatives travel to the IBO to learn about IBO's procedures, form possible collaborations with other NBOs and think about how to best prepare their students. Each observer receives an introduction for future IBO members and is asked to participate in all IBO events, including student exams, Jury sessions and social events.
  6. At the end of the observed IBO, the observer country presents itself formally (but shortly) to IBO's Annual General Meeting (AGM). The draft NBO description is circulated up front to all IBO members. Based on this draft description and the presentation to the AGM, the AGM votes on the acceptance of the observer as a Pending IBO Member. Revisions to the NBO description may be requested by the AGM or the IBO Steering Committee. Being a pending members mean that there are no further obstacles to becoming a regular IBO member, as long as all membership requirements are fulfilled (see following point).
  7. Until the first registration step for the following IBO begins (ca. February), the pending member has time to complete all membership requirements. This includes (1) providing the final NBO description & setting this information up on IBO’s website, (2) signing the IBO membership form, thus accepting IBO's rules & regulation), (3) providing the formal letter of support by the Ministry of Education if this hasn't already been done and (4) paying IBO's annual membership fee (currently 300 Euros / NBO / year).
  8. If all criteria are fulfilled within the timeframe, the pending member automatically becomes a full IBO member. The new IBO member is now eligible to bring the NBO's best 4 students to IBO. If the membership criteria are fulfilled later than that, this is acceptable, as well. In that case, the pending member is allowed to enter IBO with students in the year in which the NBO provides all membership requirements by the time of that year's IBO first registration step (usually February).