Following a comprehensive review of higher education of Hong Kong, the University Grants Committee (UGC) advised the Government in a report published in October 1996 that Hong Kong would need world-class institutions with distinct areas of excellence in order to retain its leading economic position in the development of China and the Pacific Rim. The UGC recommended, and the Government agreed, that the UGC-funded institutions should build upon their existing strengths and develop them into Areas of Excellence (AoE).
Such Areas would be recognised internationally as of equal status to their peers in the same subject areas, and justify the additional investment in state-of-the-art facilities and activities which would maintain them among the world leaders. The UGC's report "Higher Education on Hong Kong" (October 1996) and more information about the concept of Areas of Excellence can be found in the publication "Higher Education in Hong Kong - Report by the University Grants Committee"
The AoE Scheme was formerly under the UGC and five
rounds of AoE exercises had been undertaken.
With effect from February 2012, the AoE
Scheme has been transferred to the RGC.
Prominent scholars of AoE projects have
been invited to introduce the achievements
of their projects to the public in RGC Public
Lectures. Further details and videos of
the lectures of AoE Schemes can be viewed
In the fifth round of the AoE Scheme, five
proposals were supported for a total amount
of HK$378m over a period of eight years.
For the past four rounds,
a total of HK$427m was allocated to ten
AoEs. A total of HK$136m sustained funding
was also granted to six projects from
the first three rounds for a period of
three years. A summary position of the
funded projects is listed below: