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Excellent Results from the Research Assessment Exercise 2006

The University Grants Committee (UGC) today (2 March 2007) announced the results of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2006. The results showed that all the eight UGC-funded higher education institutions in Hong Kong have made remarkable improvements to achieve international excellence in research across a broad front of disciplines.

Commenting on the results, Dr Alice Lam, Chairman of the UGC, said, "The UGC is pleased to learn that all UGC-funded institutions have made great strides in their research performance since the last RAE in 1999. Many of our colleagues are internationally known top notch researchers and this reflects the effort of our institutions in excelling in research over the years." She added that the RAE 2006 results will be factored into the 'Research' portion of the institutions' recurrent grants.

"The international expert panels had conducted the research assessments in a fair and rigorous manner," Dr Lam added. "The assessment process for RAE 2006 built on and took forward the methodology and standards of the last RAE. The results truly reflect the excellent performance of our institutions."

The previous three RAEs were carried out in 1993, 1996 and 1999. For RAE 2006, the UGC has raised the standard of assessment. "In view of the high quality of research in Hong Kong and elsewhere, we made a deliberate decision to raise the evaluation standard this time," said Prof Roland Chin, a UGC member and the Chairman of the Research Grants Council under the UGC.

"We are glad that we have used a high standard of evaluation. Many of the external assessment panel members are impressed with the performance of our institutions. They think that we compared well with top higher education institutions in Europe and North America. Some members think that Hong Kong has demonstrated an emergence of intellectual prominence in many research disciplines," Prof Chin said.

For the current exercise, there were altogether 13 assessment panels involving 208 panel members, 65 of which were external members from Australia, Canada, Chinese Mainland, France, Ireland, Norway, Singapore, Taiwan, UK and the US. About 18,700 research output items submitted by some 3,500 academic staff have been assessed.

Like RAE 1999, the UGC again adopted a very broad definition of research in RAE 2006 by using a definition of 'scholarship' as developed and refined by the Carnegie Foundation, which covered "discovery, integration, application and teaching". The adoption of this broad definition was to accommodate a wide spectrum of research disciplines from sciences and technology to business to arts to education.

The high standard of evaluation of RAE 2006 was defined as "Quality of research equates to a level of excellence appropriate to the discipline in Hong Kong, and showing evidence of international excellence". This is more stringent than the standard used in the last exercise in 1999.

A table showing the aggregate results of individual institutions of the 13 assessment panels is set out at Annex. Other documents setting out the details of the RAE 2006 are available on the following UGC website:


Prof Chin cautioned readers of the RAE results that, "We should not read the data out of context. It is neither fair nor appropriate to compare directly the institutions' performance in research. We need to give due regard to the different roles, missions, discipline focus, and history of the institutions."

"It is also not appropriate to make a direct comparison of the results across different Panels, given differences in the nature of research and consequently the different assessment methodologies adopted by different panels," Prof Chin said. Prof Chin also noted that different institutions had different disciplines covered in the same Panel and thus, again care was needed in making any comparison.

The UGC will allocate a total of about $11 billion to institutions for research during the 2005-08 triennium. This figure includes research grants administered by the Research Grants Council and part of the recurrent grants provided by the UGC to the institutions supporting research activities.

Prof Chin said, "I am very pleased to have been able to steer through RAE 2006 to such a successful conclusion. The research performance has improved in all institutions to an internationally competitive level, while providing valuable training of research postgraduate students to serve the society.

"This is a clear vindication of the research support the government, through the UGC, puts into higher education. I hope it will encourage more support for the much needed research in Hong Kong from both the public and private sectors."

End/Friday, March 2, 2007



[Notes to the Editor: The table should be read in conjunction with the reading guides below]

RAE 2006: Research Indices

1. Biology 95.00% 92.50% -- 78.79% 25.00% 72.73% 95.16% 85.61% 85.29%
2. Health Sciences -- 100.00% -- 90.23% -- 58.42% -- 94.44% 86.84%
3. Physical Sciences 98.96% 93.75% -- 95.16% 29.17% 87.25% 92.61% 94.62% 91.57%
4. Electrical & Electronic Engineering 75.16% -- -- 88.46% -- 85.19% 98.44% 92.97% 86.34%
5. Computer Science /IT 74.19% 69.64% -- 88.75% 29.17% 68.75% 82.64% 68.75% 74.06%
6. Engineering 83.93% -- -- 97.50% -- 67.59% 89.58% 82.05% 80.69%
7. Built Environment 71.74% -- -- 50.00% -- 53.37% 75.00% 65.99% 60.91%
8. Law 74.81% 50.00% -- 100.00% -- -- -- 86.48% 81.03%
9. Business Studies & Economics 73.08% 80.96% 84.14% 88.41% 3.67% 65.09% 80.90% 81.04% 76.72%
10. Social Sciences 75.83% 63.52% 80.36% 88.18% 25.00% 44.83% 89.29% 81.47% 75.16%
11. Humanities 65.34% 79.00% 68.37% 82.85% 44.92% 40.25% 80.21% 80.95% 67.63%
12. Creative Arts, Performing Arts & Design 48.08% 66.67% -- 82.81% 27.94% 52.34% -- 86.11% 57.18%
13. Education 12.50% 54.31% -- 71.44% 23.33% -- -- 75.83% 49.14%
Total : 75.66% 75.24% 76.35% 86.95% 30.24% 62.62% 87.12% 85.47% 76.28%

"--" denotes that there is no staff member in the relevant broad subject area of the institution

Reading Guides:

  1. The results are not for comparison purposes and not to be used on a standalone manner.
  2. The percentages in the table above are the composite research indices in broad subject disciplines. They are the percentages of that area's staff members who submitted research output items for assessment and were judged by the relevant RAE subject panel to have generally reached or surpassed the quality standard set for RAE 2006, out of the total number of eligible staff of the institution(s) in that discipline.
  3. The number of staff covered by each panel varies significantly. The largest discipline / panel covers more than 570 eligible staff, while the smallest only covers about 65. The number of eligible staff of each institution in each panel also varies.
  4. Each institution may have different number of disciplines/departments in each panel. For example, Institution A may have only one discipline in Biology Panel, while Institution B may have three. The disciplines covered by each panel are available on the electronic version of this release (please click here).
  5. In view of (3) and (4) above, it is neither fair nor appropriate to compare the research indices of different institutions.

Disciplines covered by each RAE Panel in RAE 2006

RAE Panel Discipline
1. Biology biological sciences
2. Health Sciences clinical medicine
clinical dentistry
other health care professions
pre-clinical studies
Chinese medicine
3. Physical Sciences physics & astronomy
materials science
earth sciences (incl. oceanography, meteorology)
mathematics & statistics
4. Electrical & Electronic Engineering electrical engineering
electronic engineering
5. Computer Science / Information Technology comp studies/science (incl. IT)
6. Engineering mechanical engineering
chemical engineering
production engineering (incl. manufacturing & industrial engineering)
textile technology
7. Built Environment civil engineering
building technology
surveying, land
surveying, other
8. Law law
9. Business Studies & Economics accountancy
business studies (incl. management)
hotel management
10. Social Sciences psychology
public administration
social work
other social sciences
communication & media studies
11. Humanities Chinese language & literature
English language & literature
Japanese language & literature
other languages
other arts/humanities
12. Creative Arts, Performing Arts & Design art
other creative arts
13. Education education
physical education
home economics