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Funding Sources

(1) Research Endowment Fund

Background of the Research Endowment Fund

In February 2009, a HK$18 billion Research Endowment Fund was established. The UGC is responsible for advising on the policies governing the operation, development and investment of the fund. From the 2010/11 academic year onwards, the investment income of at least HK$14 billion out of the total of HK$18 billion is used to replace the bulk of the recurrent subvention from the Government allocated to the RGC, thus providing greater funding stability and certainty of funding to support universities’ research projects. In 2011/12, the Government secured the support of the Legislative Council to inject HK$5 billion into the fund starting from 2012/13. Of that, the investment income of HK$3 billion is for funding researches of local self-financing degree-awarding institutions on a competitive basis to enhance academic and research development. The investment income of the remaining HK$2 billion replaces the recurrent provision of HK$100 million to the RGC to provide stable research funding for the UGC-funded universities.

Earmarked Research Grants

The investment income of HK$16 billion of the Research Endowment Fund provides the source of funding to the Earmarked Research Grants to support research projects and research activities. It is the main form of funding for academic research in the eight UGC-funded universities and is allocated on a competitive basis.

The Earmarked Research Grants complement the Block Grants from the UGC, part of which provide universities with funds for research infrastructure and outlays such as researchers’ salaries, laboratory costs and other expenses (e.g. accommodation and equipment) related to UGC or RGC-funded research.

Theme-based Research Scheme

The income from up to HK$4 billion of the Research Endowment Fund, is deployed to support the Theme-based Research Scheme involving themes of a more long-term nature and strategically beneficial to the development of Hong Kong. A Steering Committee for Research Themes was set up by the Government to advise on the selection of research themes.

Competitive Research Funding Schemes for Local Self-financing Degree Sector

The investment income of HK$3 billion of the Research Endowment Fund is designated to support the academic and research development of local self-financing degree sector on a competitive basis, through the Faculty Development Scheme, the Institutional Development Scheme and the Inter-Institutional Development Scheme.

(2) UGC Funds

Areas of Excellence Scheme

The Areas of Excellence Scheme was launched by the UGC in 1998 to enable the UGC-funded universities to build upon their existing strengths and develop them into areas of excellence. The administration of the scheme was transferred to the RGC in February 2012, while the funding of around HK$90 million per annum continued to come from the UGC.

Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme

Established in 2009 by the RGC, the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme aims at attracting the best and brightest students in the world to pursue their PhD programmes in Hong Kong's UGC-funded universities.

The Fellowship provides a competitive annual stipend and conference and research-related travel allowance per year up to three years.