The Research Grants Council (RGC)
was formally established on 1 January 1991 to replace the Research Sub-Committee
of the UGC and functions as a semi-autonomous advisory body within the organizational
structure of the Committee on research matters. It works in close partnership with
the UGC and advises and reports to the Government through the UGC on matters within
The Council is assisted in its
work by four specialist subject panels responsible for: Physical Sciences;
Engineering; Biology & Medicine; and Humanities, Social Sciences & Business Studies.
These panels consist predominantly of local academics, with also some overseas
academics. In assessing applications for research grants on the basis of peer review,
the panels work through a network of referees, comprising recognized experts in their
fields both in Hong Kong and overseas, Normally a proposal will be reviewed by at least
The RGC meets twice a year in Hong Kong,
usually in June and December. The June meeting is mainly concerned with the allocation
of the Earmarked Research Grant. The December meeting is devoted primarily to resource
allocation for the following year and preliminary consideration of applications for
competitive research grants. The subject panels normally meet once a year, normally in
June prior to the RGC meeting, mainly to consider applications for allocations from the
Earmarked Research Grant as well as to monitor on-going projects and assess completed projects.
The RGC's competitive bidding cycle starts
when the institutions are required to submit by October/November each year bids for the
Earmarked Research Grants for the following year. The bids received are initially examined
by the Council's subject panels between December and the following May with assistance from
specialist academic assessors/referees either in Hong Kong or overseas. The panels then
select proposals to be recommended for funding support to RGC. The RGC finally decides how
the Earmarked Research Grant should be distributed at its June meeting.
Allocation of Funds
The RGC formulates principles, guidelines
and procedures for the allocation of Earmarked Research Grant.
A portion (currently about 15%) of the Grant is directly allocated to the UGC-funded
institutions to support small-scale research projects (costing less than $200,000). The
distribution of the sum is basically determined with reference to the institutional staff
size and other factors relevant to research.
The major portion (currently about 80%) of the Earmarked Research Grant is allocated in
response to competitive bids for specific project grants from individuals or groups of
staff of the UGC-funded institutions. The balance is centrally allocated in response to
bids from the institutions for major research facilities/equipment or library collection to
support collaborative research involving two or more institutions, or group research
activities that operate across disciplines and/or normal institutional boundaries.