Home > About the UGC > Overview > Roles and Functions

Roles and Functions

The University Grants Committee (UGC) has neither statutory nor executive powers. Each of the higher education institutions is an autonomous body with its own Ordinance and Governing Council. The institutions have substantial freedom in the control of curricula and academic standards, the selection of staff and students, initiation and acceptance of research, and the internal allocation of resources. Nevertheless, because the institutions are largely supported by public funds, and in view of the social, cultural and economic importance of higher education, the Government and the community at large have a legitimate interest in the operation of the institutions to ensure that they are providing the highest possible standards of education in the most cost-effective manner. The UGC seeks to maintain an appropriate balance in these matters.

The UGC seeks to promote responsible understanding between the institutions, the Government and the community at large. It mediates interests between institutions and the Administration. On the one hand, the UGC safeguards the academic freedom and institutional autonomy of the institutions, while on the other it ensures value for money for the taxpayers. The Committee has open channels to both the institutions and Government, since it offers advice to, and receives advice from, both.

The main function of the UGC is to allocate funding to its funded institutions, and to offer impartial and respected expert advice to the Government on the strategic development and resource requirements of higher education in Hong Kong. Specifically, the Committee has to determine precise grant recommendations in the light of indications of the level of funding that can be made available, overall student number targets by level of study and year to meet community needs as agreed with the Government, the breakdown of these numbers between institutions, as agreed in principle by the institutions. The Committee also provides the institutions with developmental and academic advice, having regard to international standards and practice.

In respect of capital works projects, the UGC advises both institutions and the Government on campus development plans and proposals made by institutions, with a view to supporting their academic and overall development.

The Committee takes its role in quality assurance very seriously, with a number of peer reviews being carried out in the past decade. It also promotes and supports institutions in quality assurance and enhancement initiatives and processes, and monitors academic standards of the institutions, in accordance with their role. To strengthen its role in quality assurance, the UGC establishes under its remit the Quality Assurance Council in April 2007.

In respect of research, the Committee carries out Research Assessment Exercises primarily to inform the distribution of the research portion of block grants, to discharge public accountability and to induce improvements in research.