FAQs

RGC Research Fellow Scheme (RFS)_and RGC Senior Research Fellow Scheme (SRFS)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Duration

1. Will an RFS/SRFS awardee be allowed a longer fellowship period in case he/she is unable to complete his/her research project within the stipulated fellowship period?

RFS/SRFS aims to provide sustained support to the awardees for a period of 60 months in the manner of relief from teaching and administrative duties for the awardees to dedicate their effort in research work. In case an awardee requires more time to complete the research project beyond the stipulated fellowship period, it will be subject to mutual agreement between the awardee and the supporting university. The supporting university is required to report such case to the UGC Secretariat before the end of the fellowship period. No additional fellowship grant will be provided for such extension.


2. Will a shorter fellowship period be considered for awardees in the Humanities/Social Sciences/Business disciplines having regard to their normal research duration requirement?

The view will be taken into consideration when the duration of fellowship period for RFS/SRFS is being reviewed.


Quota

3. Will the number of places (especially for RFS) be increased so that more promising mid-tier academics would be provided with support to further develop and broaden their research?

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


4. Will the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and HSSB (Humanities, Social Sciences and Business Studies) disciplines be given separate quota of places as the two streams may have very different assessment criteria?

There is no pre-set allocation quota between the two streams.


5. 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. After the quota reserved for local candidates is filled up, merit-based selection will continue to be applied for the remaining places.


6. Will nominees from Mainland, Macau and Taiwan be given preferential consideration in the non-local candidate pool?

For local candidates, definition of Hong Kong permanent residents as defined under the Immigration Ordinance should be adopted. All non-local candidates will be considered on equal footing and on a merit basis.


7. Is it a requirement that half of the nominations by a university are local candidates?

There is no quota/requirement at the stage of nomination by a university. The quota reserved for local candidates is applied in the overall selection stage.


Eligibility

8. Are faculty members who will retire within 5 years eligible to be considered for RFS/SRFS?

RFS/SRFS aims at providing sustained support and relief from teaching and administrative duties for exceptionally outstanding academics at their mid-career. That said, universities have the liberty to nominate academics with due consideration of the candidates' remaining years of service being adequate to complete a full course of the fellowship.


9. Will awardees of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme (PDFS) be eligible to be considered for RFS and/or SRFS in future exercise(s)? Will RFS awardees be eligible to be considered for 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.


10. Are holders of the Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship (HSSPFS) eligible to be considered for RFS/SRFS?

HSSPFS holders can be nominated for RFS/SRFS, provided that the awardees concerned are not holding the two types of fellowship concurrently (i.e. HSSPFS holders can sequentially be awarded under RFS/SRFS or vice versa).


11. Are holders of other RGC research project grants (e.g. GRF, CRF) eligible to be considered for RFS/SRFS?

During the fellowship period, RFS/SRFS awardees may hold concurrent grant(s) (except grant(s) in the form of fellowship) awarded by the UGC/RGC or other government funding agencies on research project(s) other than that under RFS/SRFS.


Research Proposal

12. Are nominees required to propose a new research project for RFS/SRFS?

Not necessarily. While a new research project is welcome, a research proposal building on existing research initiative that is already well defined and developed may also be considered. Also, re-submission of a proposal not supported by UGC/RGC/other research funding agency previously is allowed.


13. If some research work of the proposed research project is already supported by other local public funding, will it be acceptable for the proposed project under RFS/SRFS to act as complement to such research work?

Under such circumstances, the funding under RFS/SRFS should only be spent on the complementary part of the research project and there should not be duplicated funding (expenditure) on the same research work undertaken.


14. Is it allowed for an RFS/SRFS nominee to submit a similar proposal to GRF (seeking project costs and/or funding support for relief of teaching/administrative duties) in the same funding cycle?

RGC will not provide duplicated funding for activities already funded. Both the project costs and the grant for relief of teaching/administrative duties should be supported by one RGC source only without duplication/overlapping in the same funding cycle. However, funding may be provided to complement the support a nominee has obtained from other sources.


Relief of Teaching/Administrative Duties

15. Will there be any guideline regarding the appointment of relief teacher to take up teaching duties?

The basic principle is that the supporting university should observe and ensure the teaching quality of the relief teacher.


16. Is there any limit on the duration/expenditure of relief of teaching/administrative duties, or any threshold of minimal teaching commitment?

Under the principle of institutional autonomy, the actual duration of teaching relief, actual use/expenditure of teaching relief, and actual relief of administrative duties are subject to the mutual agreement between the awardee and the supporting university. In any case, the objective of RFS/SRFS, i.e. the awardee is relieved from teaching and administrative duties to facilitate the awardee's full dedication in research work, should be upheld.


17. Can a university request agreement from RFS/SRFS awardees on a year-by-year basis that they have to commit for certain amount of teaching task?

Under the principle of institutional autonomy, the actual duration and actual use/expenditure of teaching relief are subject to the mutual agreement between the awardee and the supporting university. In any case, the objective of RFS/SRFS, i.e. the awardee is relieved from teaching and administrative duties to facilitate the awardee's full dedication in research work, should be upheld.


18. What are the ceilings for the salaries of relief teachers?

In compliance with the relevant RGC guidelines, salaries for relief teachers should not exceed the salary of Staff Grade "G" (i.e. Lecturer (U)) of the supporting university.


19. Is it possible to use the RFS/SRFS fellowship grant to employ staff who will teach and also participate in the proposed research project simultaneously?

The relief teacher appointment should be designated for teaching only and the supporting university should observe and ensure the teaching quality of the relief teacher.


20. For research activities of different scopes, is an RFS/SRFS awardee allowed to use teaching relief under RFS/SRFS and also teaching relief under another research funding scheme (e.g. GRF) in the same funding cycle?

The RFS/SRFS awardee should engage only one single teaching relief at any one time. While an RFS/SRFS awardee should be relieved of teaching and administrative duties to conduct full-time research within the fellowship period, the actual duration and actual use/expenditure of teaching relief are subject to mutual agreement between the awardee and the supporting university, on the condition that the fellowship grant is only expended for the research project on which the award is conferred, and that the awardee is relieved to dedicate full effort in research work.


21. If an RFS/SRFS awardee has also warranted teaching relief under another research funding scheme (e.g. GRF) in the same funding cycle, is it possible that the teaching relief expenses spared under RFS/SRFS be used to cover other expenditure items for the research project concerned?

The RFS/SRFS awardee should engage only one single teaching relief at any one time. The basic principle is that an RFS/SRFS awardee should be relieved of teaching and administrative duties to conduct full-time research within the fellowship period, and the fellowship grant (including any spared teaching relief expenses) should only be expended for the research project on which the award is conferred.


22. In consideration of the promotion of an Associate Professor to full Professor, it is common to include an assessment of performance in teaching as well as in administration. In this regard, will there be any requirement of teaching and administrative duties to be committed by RFS/SRFS awardees so as not to prejudice their promotion?

RFS/SRFS aims to relieve the awardees from teaching and administrative duties (not including supervision of research postgraduate students) so that they may dedicate full effort in research work. That said, under the principle of institutional autonomy, the actual duration and actual relief of teaching and administrative duties are subject to mutual agreement between the awardee and the supporting university, on the condition that the aim of RFS/SRFS is being upheld.


Use/Expenditure of Fellowship Grant

23. Will staff costs for research project management and overhead expenses be covered by the fellowship grant?

Overhead expenses and staff costs of project management staff not performing research tasks/duties should be deemed as indirect costs (i.e. "on-costs"), and should not be met by the fellowship grant.


Monitoring/Reporting

24. Do RFS/SRFS awardees need to sign an undertaking with the supporting university to continue service for a certain period upon completion of the fellowship?

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


25. Are RFS/SRFS awardees allowed to take sabbatical leave or no-pay leave during the fellowship period?

RFS/SRFS awardees may only be allowed to take sabbatical leave or no-pay leave during the fellowship period under very exceptional circumstances with full justification and support from the university concerned, as well as approval by the UGC Secretariat. For cases where approval by the UGC Secretariat has been given, the disbursement of fellowship grant will be suspended during the awardee's sabbatical leave or no-pay leave period, until the awardee resumes the research work afterwards.


26. Will outside practice or other research engagements with industries be allowed within the RFS/SRFS 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, and the aim of RFS/SRFS is being upheld.