Home > UGC Publications > Press Releases > 2003 > Results of Research Grants Council's Competitive Earmarked Research Grant 2003-2004 Announced (30.6.2003)

Results of Research Grants Council's
Competitive Earmarked Research Grant 2003-2004

The Research Grants Council ("RGC") announced today (30 June 2003) that it has allocated $472 million to support academic research and, out of this sum, a special allocation of $10 million was dedicated to urgent and important research needed to tackle some immediate problems brought about by the recent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis. The funding was distributed in the context of the annual Competitive Earmarked Research Grant ("CERG") exercise for 2003-2004.

In the regular CERG exercise, the RGC received a record high of 1,878 applications from the academic staff of the eight institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) seeking funding of about $1,800 million from the CERG. After rigorous peer-review, the RGC decided to fund 798 of these projects for $462 million. When compared with the last exercise, the funding allocated has gone up by almost 8% and the total number of funded projects has increased by 15%. The overall success rate is roughly 42%. 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].

In addition, to help the community combat the problems arising from SARS, the RGC launched a special grant in May 2003 to support urgent academic research projects which are directly connected with the SARS epidemic and which could help Hong Kong to understand and fight the disease. The response of institutions was overwhelming and a total of 158 applications were received requesting funding close to $106 million. Out of these, RGC funded 16 applications for $10 million. Like other CERG applications, all the proposals underwent peer-review, and immediate relevance and academic quality were the foremost criteria.

Commenting on the results, Professor Kenneth Young, Chairman of the RGC said, "It is gratifying to see that research in Hong Kong's higher education sector has continued to grow and improve significantly. With resources from the Government and the UGC, the Council has been able to support more proposals in the recent exercises. These proposals all measure up to a high international standard, as judged by many overseas experts who have helped to review the proposals."

"I am in particular impressed by the enthusiastic response of our local researchers in applying for the special grant for SARS. This reflects squarely the ability and readiness of our researchers in making use of their professional knowledge and expertise to contribute at this extraordinary time. We do not have funds to support all worthy proposals. I am hoping that the longer-term work can be funded through the RGC's regular funding exercises or other sources," Professor Young added.

Sharing the same sentiment, Professor Rosie Young said, "The launching of the special RGC grant for SARS is a timely initiative. It affords a welcome and unique opportunity for scientific research to contribute to society in a solid way. I am confident that the funded projects will help us to better understand and further contain the SARS disease. In the past decade, the RGC has done a very respectable job in developing our research enterprise and I am sure this will and should continue." Professor Rosie Young served as a Special Advisor to the RGC Expert Group which reviewed the SARS applications.

Established in 1991, the RGC is a semi-autonomous advisory body operating under the aegis of the University Grants Committee (UGC). As an agency supporting academic research in higher education institutions, the RGC is responsible for supporting and fostering research in all disciplines taught in the institutions so that Hong Kong can keep up with current world-wide developments.

UGC Secretariat
30 June 2003

For enquiries on this press release, please contact Mr P H Li, Assistant Secretary General (Research) of the UGC Secretariat at 2844 9916.