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Foreword from the Chairman

The Hon Laura CHA May-lung, 
GBS, JP, Chairman, UGC



Partner for Excellence

I am very pleased to present to you the brand-new Annual Report of the University Grants Committee (UGC). This year, we have undertaken a significant revamp to the Report, formerly called "Facts & Figures", to give a fuller description of the Committee's activities in the year. In doing so, we hope to enhance communication and solicit feedback from our stakeholders and the community at large. I trust you will find this Report informative and readable. 

Higher Education concerns every member of the society. It bears greatly on the city's competitiveness, economic prosperity and quality of life. It is not just an instrumental tool for economic development but also a means to bolster the vigour and confidence of a city. The theme of this Report is "Partner for Excellence". Indeed, over the years, the UGC has been collaborating as a staunch partner with the Administration, the UGC-funded institutions and other stakeholders to strategise the development of the higher education sector in Hong Kong. It is heartening to note that several Hong Kong institutions are known globally for their excellence in certain fields or generally.

Partnership to reach common goals

2009/10 was a hectic and fruitful year for the UGC. The major work for the whole sector is to gear up for the "3+3+4" academic reform. Global recruitment of academic staff and a rigorous review of the curriculum are underway. The UGC is aware of the challenges that lie ahead to make the transition a success, and acts as a facilitator by providing financial support, offering independent advice, and liaising between the Government and the eight funded-institutions. As for campus development, with funding approval from the Legislature, all the twelve "3+3+4"-related capital works projects have now commenced construction. We are working closely with the institutions to ensure timely completion of the projects, i.e. before September 2012. 

On the research front, the advent of the $18-billion Research Endowment Fund (REF) has provided a welcome fillip to the research endeavours of our institutions. The investment return of REF amounted to about 6% for the year ending 31 December 2009. The Research Grants Council has also been thinking hard how to make best use of the "Theme Based Research" funding stream that will flow from the REF. We have in addition started to allocate a new stream of recurrent funding to the institutions to promote and incentivise the transfer of knowledge between institutions and the society, with a view to bringing about socio-economic benefits to the community and businesses.

Another major exercise we accomplished this year was a review concerning the institutional development of the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd). Following up the UGC's earlier review report which recommended HKIEd to develop additional complementary disciplines, and to strengthen its research capability and research training environment, we carefully evaluated HKIEd's detailed proposals in these two areas. With the professional advice of international Education experts and a day-long visit to the Institute to meet with its management, academic staff and students, the UGC was of the view that HKIEd had satisfied the prerequisites for receiving additional non-Education undergraduate, and research postgraduate, student places. 

We don't just work for our stakeholders, we work with them. We listen to views from the public through various open channels, such as the "Higher Education Forum" on our website, and our regular meetings with student and staff representatives. To promote better stakeholder communications, we have taken forward several new measures this year. A new Communications Group was set up to explore various proactive measures to enhance the public's understanding of the Committee's work and the achievements of our higher education sector. This new annual publication is an example. I also attended before the Legislative Council Panel on Education to brief our legislators of the Committee's work in January 2010. 

New dimensions in pursuing excellence

The UGC strongly believes the entire higher education sector should be viewed as one force, with each institution having its own unique role and strength. International excellence has always been the benchmark of our work. By working hand in hand with the Administration and the UGC-funded institutions, we aim at pursuing excellence in both teaching and research. 

The UGC's pursuit of role and improvement starts from within. Not only have I invited and taken on board suggestions from the Heads of Institutions on areas the UGC should improve upon, last year we also reviewed our Notes on Procedures to streamline these long-established procedures. The Notes, which govern the Committee's relationship with the Administration and the institutions and set out the major operational/procedural elements of the interplay among the three, have been significantly rewritten to enhance efficiency while safeguarding public accountability.

"Partnering for Excellence in Education" – the first symposium sponsored by the UGC on "3+3+4" related issues

The role and functions of the UGC cannot remain static: we must be well attuned with the times. We take to heart comments and criticisms levelled at us - in particular those in the LegCo Motion Debate in March 2009. We are enhancing transparency and communication. We are bringing more issues to stakeholders so that they know about what the UGC is doing and responsible for. This will be an ongoing commitment.

Shaping the Future

To recommend strategies for the future development of Hong Kong's higher education sector, the UGC started a very significant review - the Higher Education Review (HER) 2010. Led by Sir Colin Lucas, a senior UGC member, the HER 2010 will be completed within 2010 and presented to the Government for its consideration. The UGC is also undertaking a review on the methodology to assess research quality and impact, and to make the allocation of all research-related funding more competitive. This will dovetail with the HER 2010. The outcomes of these reviews will have far-reaching implications on the sector, and will we hope provide strategic direction for the sector to flourish - on all aspects involving teaching, research support strategy, quality assurance, and most importantly, the vision and role of higher education sector in Hong Kong.

I believe the UGC - with our distinguished overseas members who bring in perspectives and profound experience from abroad, and our local members who spare much time and effort from their respective leading capacities in their own fields - will keep up our momentum and continue to work closely with all parties to strive for betterment.

Please read on - to see what we have achieved over the past fruitful year! 

The Hon Laura CHA May-lung, GBS, JP

Copyright © 2010 University Grants Committee. All rights reserved.
Last Revision Date: 15 June 2010