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First round of Competitive Research Funding Schemes for Local Self-Financing Degree Sector launched

The Research Grants Council (RGC) today (December 30) announced the launch of the first round of three Competitive Research Funding Schemes for the Local Self-financing Degree Sector (SF Funding Schemes), namely the Faculty Development Scheme (FDS), Institutional Development Scheme (IDS) and Inter-Institutional Development Scheme (IIDS).

Three billion dollars of the Research Endowment Fund was designated by the Government to support the academic and research development of local self-financing degree-awarding sector on a competitive basis. Assuming a rate of 5% of interest income, there will be about $150 million available per year. The Education Bureau invited the UGC / RGC to oversee the new resources for local self-financing degree-awarding institutions including the formulation of the framework of proposed funding schemes and monitoring the implementation of the new schemes.

The RGC endorsed a two-stage approach in implementing the SF Funding Schemes to help the self-financing degree-awarding institutions to set up the infrastructure at the first stage, and to provide research support to the academics in the self-financing arms of publicly-funded institutions at the second stage. In this first call for proposals, applications are invited from seven self-financing degree-awarding institutions offering local degree level or above programmes in Hong Kong for which Phase 1 consultation was conducted, namely Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Centennial College, Chu Hai College of Higher Education, Hang Seng Management College, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, The Open University of Hong Kong, and Tung Wah College.

It is anticipated that after the Phase 2 consultation, invitations for applications will be extended to the Continuing and Professional Education Units of the eight UGC-funded institutions, the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong under the Vocational Training Council, as well as other self-financing degree-awarding institutions when their degree-awarding statuses are attained.

Announcing the implementation of the first round of the three schemes, Chairman of RGC, Professor Benjamin Wah said "This is the first time RGC has been tasked to launch three funding schemes for the self-financing degree-awarding institutions. These schemes laid an important milestone for the self-financing degree-awarding institutions and their faculty members to develop the research capacities. We encourage active participation of the self-financing degree-awarding institutions and their faculty members to apply for the schemes."

The FDS aims at developing the research capability of individual academics in the local self-financing degree-awarding institutions so that they can transfer their research experiences and new knowledge into teaching and learning. The IDS aims at building up the research capacity of the institutions in their strategic areas, and the IIDS aims at enhancing academics' research capability in the local self-financing degree-awarding institutions and keep them abreast of new developments and challenging research topics in relevant fields.

"Merit-based assessment criteria and a peer-review mechanism would be adopted for the three funding schemes, and academic quality of the proposals will remain the overriding evaluation criterion," Professor Wah added.

The deadline for applications for the three funding schemes is 5pm on March 31, 2014. A workshop on application procedures for the schemes will be held to introduce the outline of the funding schemes, application guidelines and procedures, and answer enquiries from potential applicants and institutions. The workshop is scheduled for January 13, 2014 from 4 to 5.30pm at Function Room AC1, Level 4, Administration Building of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. All potential applicants are welcome to enrol for the Workshop.

Please refer to the RGC website for detail information on the first call for proposals, the application forms and guidance notes, and the workshop: www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/rgc/funding_opport/funding_schemes.html.