Education & Enrichment Living In Hong Kong Schools

What’s the right senior school program for your child?

By: Melissa Stevens

Providing children with a broad range of choice and opportunity when it comes time to move on to tertiary education is a key aim of the Australian International School Hong Kong. One way in which it does this, is by offering the option of either the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or the New South Wales Higher School Certificate in its senior school program.

Head of Secondary Howard West says the school, which follows the Australian curriculum and caters to students from reception to Year 12, welcomes students of all nationalities. “We see it as imperative to offer broad yet tailored academic choices of study in Hong Kong’s international setting,” he says. “For this reason, our curriculum is tailored with adaptations to best serve our multicultural and internationally-mobile student body.”

Australian International School Hong Kong students senior school program
The school welcomes students from reception to Year 12

Howard says while the IB diploma is widely known and offers global access to tertiary institutions, the HSC also provides a pathway to all universities in all countries. “There are likely to be more similarities between the HSC and IBDP than most may realise,” he says. “There is often a perception that the IB is more rigorous and more internationally accepted as a qualification. In actual fact, the HSC is equally rigorous. Both qualifications offer successful students entry to all global universities.”

The difference lies in the structure of the two programmes. For the HSC, students must complete at least 12 units of study, usually six subjects, in the preliminary study year. A minimum of ten units of study (typically five subjects) must be completed in the final HSC study year which includes the compulsory study of two units of English. To be awarded the IB Diploma, students must satisfy the course requirements in one course from each of the six groups listed.

Australian International School Hong Kong campus
The campus is in Kowloon Tong

While the majority of students opt for the HSC, secondary and careers staff consult closely with students to consider which path would be the best fit for them as individuals, Howard says. There’s a perception that the IB is more rigorous and more internationally accepted as a qualification, yet the HSC is equally rigorous.”

Kiran Shivalingam graduated from AISHK with a HSC qualification. “The critical difference between the two is that the HSC emphasises a wide choice of subjects, with the ability to specialise in your strengths, while the IB focuses on getting you to be an all-rounded student,” says Kiran. “No matter which stream a student chooses at AISHK, they’re provided with a clear and guided educational pathway that sets them up for success. From an academic viewpoint, teachers at AISHK go above and beyond to ensure each student is getting the most of their education.”

Kiran’s choices have certainly paid off: he recently topped his year in Politics at Durham University, and was awarded Durham Scholar by the Vice Chancellor.

Australian International School Hong Kong is at 3A Norfolk Road, Kowloon Tong. For more information, call 2304 6078 or visit

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This article first appeared in the December/January 2017/18 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.