Visit to HKU by New RGC Chairman, Professor Benjamin Wah

Professor Benjamin Wah – Chairman of the Research Grants Council since January this year – visited HKU on March 26, 2013. He first met with Professor Paul Tam (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research) and some University Research Committee members to discuss research at HKU. An interactive session followed with more than 50 HKU academics, including Deans and Associate Deans, principle investigators and co-ordinators of major research projects, and research award winners.

In his new capacity as RGC Chairman, Professor Wah is visiting each of the institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) to talk about and receive input on research-related issues. 

After being welcomed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, Professor Wah gave a brief presentation on three areas: funding sources for the RGC, the RGC structure and funding schemes, and other major ongoing issues.

Two main funding sources were described by Professor Wah: (1) funding through the UGC block grant for research support, research postgraduate places and overhead/on-costs; and (2) RGC competitive funding schemes, primarily funded through recurrent income from the Research Endowment Fund.

Professor Wah outlined the current RGC competitive funding schemes and mechanisms and highlighted potential changes, including proposed increases to the overall amounts awarded under the General Research Fund, Early Career Scheme and Collaborative Research Fund in 2013/14 and some modifications to these schemes.  

Among the major ongoing issues, Professor Wah talked about the upcoming Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) being undertaken by the UGC, discussing the timetable for guidelines and criteria, submissions, and assessment and how the exercise will inform funding.

Most of the session was given over to discussion with the audience. Points raised included the distribution of on-costs, the use of quantitative metrics in the RAE, funding of future public policy research, collaborative research funding, international funding sources, the Early Career Scheme, and limitations on grant spending.

In summing up, Professor Wah expressed his happiness in visiting HKU and hoped that it would be an ongoing dialogue. “We are partners in this process,” he said, “and I see myself not as the chair but as the facilitator.”


Find out more