The Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CIS) will begin to offer from next month Ontario Academic Credit (OAC) courses, a mandatory requirement for attending university in the Canadian province. Known until the mid-1980s as 'grade 13', the courses are among the most advanced level of high school classes available to prepare students for university. Allan McLeod, vice-principal of the CIS, said the OAC courses were comparable to A levels in Britain or advanced placement courses but they were not first-year university courses. The Ontario system for education worked on a credit system. Students needed 30 credits, including six OAC courses, to be accepted to university. They could receive eight credits for grade nine and needed to accumulate another 22 credits in grades 10 to 12. 'High school starts in grade nine in Ontario. If you are a student who enters high school and you are not academically strong, you can take all your studies at what's called a 'general level' and graduate without having taken an OAC as long as you have your 30 credits,' Mr McLeod said. 'If you are going to university, you need six OAC courses among your 30 credits. Also, you must have five credits in English to graduate [from high school] - four credits for grades nine to 12, plus one OAC.' To help students meet those requirements, the CIS will offer in the first term OAC courses in Mandarin, World Issues (geography) and English. In the second term, the school plans to offer OAC courses in chemistry, modern Western civilisation (history), finite mathematics (general maths), geometry/algebra, physics, biology and calculus. A year's tuition costs $67,750. 'We are insisting that all students take OAC English. Because we are a small group, we are offering a selective set of OAC courses which will allow our students to get into virtually anything,' Mr McLeod said. 'These courses are some of the most highly recognised graduation outcomes from a grade 12 programme that you will find in the world. We would be delighted if there were students from other schools interested in coming [to our programme]. But, first, they would have to pass an entry- level test. 'The primary group is the students we have coming through our school. We have about 11 grade 12 students for the coming year and we can take about 25.' In January, the CIS will condense its three current campuses into a new facility in Aberdeen. The $257-million campus on Nam Long Shan Road will eventually have 49 classrooms, two science laboratories, two gymnasiums and a 25-metre swimming pool. 'This is a top facility that provides an environment where we can bring all our students together in one place. We have wonderful opportunities for extra-curricular activities. One of the targets of Canadian education is to have a complete education as opposed to just an academic education,' Mr McLeod said.