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University Grants Committee : Discussions at the Meeting in January 2009

The University Grants Committee (UGC) met in January 2009 to discuss a number of issues, including matters relating to a review of Higher Education, research, knowledge transfer, the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd)'s Development Blueprint and the Fourth Matching Grant Scheme.

Higher Education Review

The UGC has decided to embark on an important exercise, the Higher Education Review 2009, as a follow-on to the "Higher Education in Hong Kong" published by the UGC in 2002 which suggested, among others, the UGC conduct a further review in five years' time. "Our aim is to come up with, in the first half of 2010, a forward looking document that can assist the Government and the public in reflecting on the purposes of higher education, perceived world trends, and hence the strategies for Hong Kong's higher education system," the Chairman, UGC said.

To take forward the review, the UGC has established a Higher Education Review Group (HERG) under the convenorship of Sir Colin Lucas, a senior UGC Member. The membership and Terms of Reference of the HERG have been uploaded on the UGC's website http://www.ugc.edu.hk.


The UGC warmly welcomed the Legislative Council's approval of the establishment of the $18 billion Research Endowment Fund in January 2009. The Fund will be set up as a charitable trust, with the Permanent Secretary for Education Incorporated acting as the Trustee. The UGC is working with the Education Bureau on the operational details of the trust in preparation for the full implementation of the scheme in the 2010/11 academic year. Much work is needed before then, including the investment strategy for the funds and the themes to be covered under the "theme based" portion of the Fund.

Following the Government's announcement last year to create 800 new research postgraduate places, the UGC has agreed on the allocation of these places, as follows:

(a) To allocate 135 research postgraduate places annually to a new "Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme" under the auspices of the Research Grants Council in 2010/11 and 2011/12;
(b) To allocate a certain number of places to the 5th round of Areas of Excellence (AoE) projects and new AoE sustained funding projects; and
(c) To allocate the remaining number of places to institutions based on the moving average of their General Research Fund (GRF) and Collaborative Research Fund (CRF) award results in the previous three years. For 2009/10, 270 places will be so allocated. For 2010/11 and 2011/12, the numbers will be adjusted downwards to reflect (a) and (b) above.

"With these additional research postgraduate places, the institutions will be able to enhance their research capability, thereby contributing to the economic and social development of Hong Kong in the long term," the Chairman, UGC said.

A UGC Working Group also had a round table meeting with the Heads of the eight UGC-funded institutions to discuss research issues and specifically how best to assess research performance in the future. There will be further opportunities for dialogue with institutions on this important issue.

Knowledge Transfer

To strengthen institutions' capacity in translating their expertise and research findings into real economic and social improvements, the Government has earmarked additional recurrent funding of $50 million annually from the 2009/10 academic year onwards for their "knowledge transfer" activities. The UGC is developing the principles and detailed mechanism for allocating this new funding, and will consult the institutions on the operational details shortly.

Review on HKIEd's Development Blueprint

The UGC discussed various matters pertinent to its review on HKIEd's Development Blueprint. "After finalizing the Review, we submitted it to the Government this morning", said the Chairman, UGC.

Financial Matters

Triennium Funding
The UGC finalised the letters conveying the 2009-2012 triennial grant funding for the eight UGC-funded institutions. The letters were issued in mid January, after the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council voted the funds.

Fourth Matching Grant Scheme
The UGC was pleased to note the impressive results of the fourth round of the scheme. The eight UGC-funded institutions, together with Hong Kong Shue Yan University and the Open University of Hong Kong, secured more than $2 billion donations, and the full $1 billion matching grants will be allocated in this round. "It is encouraging to see that the community has responded to the Matching Grant Scheme with generous support in both good times and bad. The UGC would like to thank the Government for the scheme, and to congratulate the institutions on their success," said the Chairman, UGC.

UGC Secretariat
February 17, 2009