FAQs

RGC Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme (PDFS)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Duration

1. Will a longer fellowship period be considered to allow PDFS awardees more time to complete their study and apply for at least a couple of rounds of grants?

The duration of fellowship period for PDFS will be reviewed as and when required.


2. Will a shorter fellowship period be considered to allow increasing the number of quota for the scheme or allow flexibility for postdoctoral commitment in different disciplines?

The duration of fellowship period for PDFS will be reviewed as and when required.


Quota

3. Will the number of places be increased in later exercises?

The number of awards/places will be reviewed as and when required.


4. As half of the places will be reserved for local candidates, will the other half of the places be designated for non-local candidates? Or will the remaining local candidates be considered together with the non-locals for the other half of the places?

Selection is competitive in nature. If the quota reserved for local candidates is filled up, merit-based selection will again apply for the remaining places.


5. Is there any quota allocation for the 50 places between (i) Science, Medicine, Engineering and Technology and (ii) Humanities, Social Sciences and Business Studies?

There is no pre-set allocation quota between the two broad academic categories. The principle of merit-based selection should apply.


Eligibility

6. Will there be any age limit or constraint on the maximum number of years of obtaining a PhD degree for the nominee?

There is no restriction in terms of age, while the nominee should have obtained/been conferred a PhD degree or an equivalent qualification not more than three (calendar) years before the (calendar) year of nomination.


7. Is the PDFS nominee required to be a graduate/PhD student from the supporting university?

There is no restriction in this regard.


8. In the operation guide, it is mentioned that "for awardees applying for/currently receiving other employment subsidy via the same project(s) supported by other local public funding under the UGC, RGC, Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), etc., they shall decide to receive either the fellowship for full-time employment under the PDFS or other employment subsidy to avoid double funding." Does the restriction only apply to the "local public funding"? Will a nominee who is receiving employment subsidy from (a) overseas funding, or (b) private funding, or (c) donation be eligible to receive the PDFS if he/she still uses the said funding (a)/(b)/(c)?

The restriction only applies to local public funding with examples enumerated in the operation guide. Universities are welcome to top up PDFS with overseas funding, private funding or donation.


9. If a PdF is receiving university's internal funding (say, from UGC block grant) as employment subsidy to conduct the same project, or receiving other employment subsidy on research projects/activities that are not covered by or overlapping with PDFS, will he/she be eligible to be nominated for PDFS?

For PDFS candidates receiving UGC block grant as employment subsidy to conduct the same project, remuneration from this subsidy should cease if they decide to receive the fellowship/employment under the PDFS on the same project (i.e. no overlapping/double funding). Nevertheless, there is no such restriction if the other employment subsidy they are receiving is on research projects/activities other than that under PDFS.


10. Is the nominee required to be employed by the supporting university at the time of nomination?

The nominee is not required to be an existing employee of the supporting university at the time of nomination but he/she needs to be employed by the supporting university when the fellowship is awarded.


11. Are existing post-doctoral fellows (or who have previously held PdF or Assistant Professor titles) eligible to be nominated for PDFS?

There is no restriction on previous/current employment of the candidates.


12. Is an awardee of the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme, who will complete the PhD degree within 6 months from the date of nomination for PDFS, allowed to be nominated for PDFS?

Awardees of Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme fulfilling the nomination requirements under PDFS are eligible to be nominated for PDFS.


13. Will PDFS awardees be eligible to be considered for the RGC Research Fellow Scheme (RFS) and/or RGC Senior Research Fellow Scheme (SRFS) in future exercise(s)?

PDFS awardees can be considered for RFS/SRFS in future exercise(s) subject to fulfilling the requirements as set out for RFS/SRFS. RFS awardees can be considered for SRFS in future exercise(s) subject to fulfilling the requirements as set out for SRFS. An awardee can only benefit from one of the three schemes at any one time. Awardees accepting a fellowship shall not compete again for the same fellowship in future exercises.


Selection Panel

14. For disciplines with applied nature like Design, Health and Allied Health Sciences, will there be inclusion of at least one member of the related field in the selection panel?

Panel membership for PDFS will follow the existing selection panels formed under the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme, i.e. Humanities, Social Sciences and Business Studies Selection Panel (H-Panel) and Science, Medicine, Engineering and Technology Selection Panel (S-Panel). Panel members will be added as necessary.


Award

15. Will the annual stipend proposed for PDFS awardee (and the research-related travel allowance) be increased to enhance its attractiveness?

The amount of the fellowship stipend will be adjusted after every 12 months during the fellowship period with reference to the annual rate of Composite Consumer Price Index (CCPI) and related factors, and will be reviewed as and when required in future exercises.


16. If the annual stipend of PDFS is deemed less than sufficient to cover the salary of a PdF, are universities allowed to use (a) overseas funding, or (b) private funding, or (c) donation to support the shortfall of the salary cost?

Universities may top up the fellowship stipend using non-public funding including but not limited to overseas funding, private funding, and/or donation. To avoid "double funding", if a PDFS candidate is receiving UGC block grant as employment subsidy to conduct the same project, remuneration from this subsidy should cease if he/she decides to receive the fellowship/employment under the PDFS on the same project.


17. Will the employer's contribution to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) and the yearly General Pay Adjustment, which are normally tied in with the salary, be covered by the annual stipend?

Universities are welcome to supplement the fellowship with other fringe benefits on par with ordinary employment of a PdF, on top of the stipend, including MPF, pay adjustment, etc. The amount of the fellowship stipend will be adjusted after every 12 months during the fellowship period with reference to the annual rate of Composite Consumer Price Index (CCPI) and related factors, and will be reviewed as and when required in future exercises.


Appointment as PdF

18. When is the university expected to make an offer, before or after the nomination, as it will take a considerable period of time from submission of nomination to receiving the result in March?

It is up to the university to decide bearing in mind that the 3-year employment as PdF sponsored under PDFS should commence within the same (calendar) year after the result is announced in March.


19. Are PDFS awardees expected to conduct independent studies or get involved in a funded research project?

Under the principle of institutional autonomy, details of the research project(s)/study(ies) are subject to the agreement between the PDFS awardee and the supporting university.


20. Do PDFS awardees need to sign an undertaking with the supporting university to continue their service for a certain period upon completion of the PDFS fellowship?

Under the principle of institutional autonomy, any undertaking for continual service upon completion of the PDFS fellowship should be subject to mutual agreement between the awardee and the supporting university.


Monitoring/Reporting

21. What are the reporting requirements?

PDFS awardees will be required to submit annual progress reports on all on-going research project(s)/activity(ies) through the university concerned to the UGC Secretariat for monitoring. Upon completion of the 36-month fellowship period, awardees should submit a completion report through the university concerned to the UGC Secretariat.


22. Is it necessary to submit a separate statement of accounts apart from the completion report?

In accordance with RGC's existing Disbursement, Accounting and Monitoring Arrangements for Funding Schemes Administered by the RGC, a statement of accounts should be submitted separately.


23. Will outside practice or other research engagements with industries be allowed within the PDFS fellowship period?

Outside practice or other research engagements with industries are not restricted during the fellowship period, provided that they are in compliance with the related internal guidelines of the supporting university.