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Results of Research Grants Council's Competitive Earmarked Research Grant 2004-2005 Announced (30.6.2004)

The Research Grants Council (RGC) today (June 30) announced its decisions on the annual Competitive Earmarked Research Grant (CERG) exercise for 2004/05.

The RGC received a total of 1,874 applications submitted by the academic staff of the eight institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) seeking CERG funding of about $1,700 million. After rigorous peer-review, the RGC decided to fund 748 projects with a total amount of $403.5 million.

Commenting on the results, Professor Kenneth Young, Chairman of the RGC, said, "The Council has been very impressed by the overall quality of the research proposals submitted in this exercise as reflected by the increasing number of proposals meeting the quality threshold. The overall success rate is roughly 40 per cent.

"It is gratifying to see that a vibrant and robust research culture has been developed in the higher education sector in the past decade. Overseas experts who have helped to review the proposals have observed that many of the supported proposals measure up to the highest international standards.

"It is the RGC's policy to support as many worthwhile projects as possible. However, given a reduced RGC budget this year, the Council had to make some painful decisions by cutting the size of the project grants as well as supporting fewer projects than might otherwise be receiving support.

When compared with the last exercise, the funding allocated has come down by 12.8 per cent, largely in line with the reduction in the overall budget of the UGC, while the total number of funded projects has decreased by about 6.4 per cent.

"Looking towards the next few years, the challenge for the Council is to become even more vigilant in creating economies and to make the research dollars go even further. However, in the longer term, research funding needs to be improved to a level commensurate with regional competitors and Hong Kong's own aspirations. As Hong Kong strives to enhance its overall competitiveness in the globalized economy, nobody would argue about the centrality of research in shaping the future of Hong Kong as a knowledge economy," Professor Young added.

"Indeed, in less favourable times, the need for research to generate new knowledge and invent new ways of doing things is greater than ever. It is therefore important to continue investment to support research and scholarship in our higher education sector, which stands at the frontier of knowledge advancement."

Out of the 748 projects supported, 316 projects were in the Engineering disciplines, 138 in disciplines concerning Biology & Medicine, 146 in areas related to Humanities, Social Sciences & Business Studies, and 148 in Physical Sciences, Chemical Engineering & Mathematics.

A table showing the number of funded projects and the amount of grants by broad subject discipline and institution is set out at the Annex [Excel file].

Established in 1991, the RGC is a semi-autonomous advisory body operating under the aegis of the 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 2004

For enquiries on this press release, please contact Ms Eva Tso, Assistant Secretary General (Research) of the UGC Secretariat at 2844 9916.