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Results of Research Grants Council's Competitive Earmarked Research Grant 2000-2001 Announced (30.6.2000)

  1. The Research Grants Council ("RGC") today (30 June 2000) announced its decisions on the annual Competitive Earmarked Research Grant ("CERG") exercise for 2000-2001.

  2. A spokesman for the RGC said that a total of $360 million, an increase of 11.1% over last year, was awarded as project grants in response to applications from the academic staff of the UGC-funded institutions in the annual competitive exercise. This year, a total of 1,652 applications, 10% more than the number received last year, was received by the RGC applying for about $1,567 million. Based on the recommendations of its four subject panels, the RGC decided to fund 632 projects, which represented an overall success rate of 38.3%. Last year's overall success rate was similar (38.6%). A table showing the number of funded projects and the amount of grants by broad subject discipline and institution is attached at the Annex [Excel file]. The spokesman added that this year, the RGC maintained roughly the same level of minimum funding to ensure that every funded project can realistically work towards its goals. However, in view of the demand and the limited budget, the funding of the very highly rated projects has regrettably been reduced by about 10% compared to last year.

  3. In commenting on the results, Prof Kenneth Young, Chairman of the RGC, noted that the quality of research in Hong Kong, and in particular of the research proposals received by the RGC, has improved steadily and significantly in recent years. He added that based on the observations of the panel members, including the many overseas panel members, the average quality of the proposals received by the RGC this year had definitely improved.

  4. Although the overall success rate remained roughly at the same level as last year's, Professor Young explained that the number of proposals considered by the Council to be of sufficient academic quality to merit funding support, but were unable to be supported by the Council because of a lack of funds, increased by about 34% to 432 proposals. Prof Young explained that the Council had a policy of rating these proposals as undable but not funded', and of advising the institutions of these proposals so that they could receive funding from the institutions if funds were available. In view of the increasing number of proposals in this category, Prof Young said that the RGC would look further into this situation to see if there was a case for the RGC to request more research funds from the Government in the longer term to support worthwhile research which would in the end benefit the entire community.

  5. The 632 projects supported covered all disciplines. As an agency supporting academic research in higher education institutions, the spokesman said that the RGC has the responsibility to support and foster research in all disciplines taught in the universities so that Hong Kong can keep up with current world wide developments. Nevertheless, research in areas important to Hong Kong's development was also supported. Of the supported proposals, there were, among others, 29 proposals in Information Technology, 19 in Bio-technology, Environmental and Ecological Studies, 72 proposals in International Finance, Economics and Enterprise Management and a total of 30 examining Hong Kong's cultural and social issues.

  6. Apart from the main CERG exercise, the RGC operates a number of other schemes to support collaborative research in the UGC-funded institutions locally and with overseas partners. They include the Central Allocation Scheme to support the purchase of major research equipment for use among the institutions, and to support group research projects. An amount of $29 million has been earmarked in 2000-2001 for this scheme. In addition, a number of Joint Research Schemes aimed at enhancing exchanges and collaboration between researchers in Hong Kong and their counterparts in Germany, France and the Mainland have also been established. In 2000-2001, about $11.8 million will be spent to support projects under these three schemes.

  7. Looking back over the past 12 months, Prof Young said: "It has been, again, a hectic but fruitful year for the RGC. The RGC is pleased to see some positive and encouraging developments in the funding infrastructure for applied research in technology in Hong Kong: the Innovation and Technology Fund, the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), the Science Park, and most recently the Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine to be operated under the ASTRI. While the RGC is happy to see these developments and indeed welcome them, the Council would like to stress that any good applied research would need a good foundation in basic research. From that point of view, it is necessary for the RGC to continue to support quality academic research, and for the community to continue to invest in academic research as well".

  8. Established in 1991, the RGC is a semi-autonomous advisory body operating under the aegis of the University Grants Committee (UGC).

UGC Secretariat
30 June 2000

For enquiries on this press release, please contact Mr P H Li, Assistant Secretary General (Research Administration) of the UGC Secretariat at 2524 3971.