About a third more students have been admitted to government-subsidised courses for the exceptionally gifted this school year than last year. Some 1,140 students nominated by schools were enrolled this academic year, 36 per cent more than last school year, said Abraham Tang King-hong , the Academy for Gifted Education's associate director (student programmes and services). More than 10 of the students were 10-year-olds, he said. 'I am very happy about the increase in the intake this year,' he said. 'It was probably because we have lowered the requirement for applicants' education level from Form Three to Form One.' He also attributed the rise to widespread promotion of the academy. The gifted education programme, which started in 2001, provides a variety of free courses for gifted secondary school students. The programme had long been run by the government but the Academy for Gifted Education took over its courses in September. The academy is a non-profit making institute set up this year with government funding of HK$100 million and another HK$100 million from donations. Mr Tang said that, because the government had previously accepted students only in Form Three or higher , some talented younger pupils may have missed out in the past. He said gifted students could encounter many social and academic problems. It would be ideal to provide them with help as early as possible. Mr Tang said the academy had received about 1,300 nominations from schools this year but had not accepted all of them as some students were found to be unsuitable for the academy's courses. Applicants could apply for enhancement programmes in two out of four domains, namely leadership, humanity, science and mathematics. Mr Tang said some students who wished to take its leadership programmes were so shy and immature in the interview that the jury found them unsuitable. He said applicants were not required to submit their IQ test reports and they would be assessed based on their achievements, teachers' comments and their performance in interviews. Mr Tang said the academy would accept nominations from school social workers around March next year and would reach out to students who had taken courses offered by the Education Bureau's gifted education section. He said social workers could help single out gifted students who were underachieving at school.