The University Grants Committee (UGC) is the non-statutory body which advises the HKSAR Government on the funding and strategic development of higher education in Hong Kong. In this role, the UGC works with institutions, the Administration and the community to promote excellence in the higher education sector, with a view to establishing Hong Kong as the education hub of the region and to nurturing high-quality personnel to promote the economic and social development of Hong Kong. UGC comprises members appointed by the Chief Executive of the HKSAR from among accomplished local and overseas academics, higher education administrators and eminent community leaders.

The main function of the UGC is to allocate funding to its funded institutions, and to offer impartial and expert advice to the Government on the strategic development and resource requirements of higher education in Hong Kong. Specifically, the Committee has to determine precise grant recommendations in the light of indications of the level of funding that can be made available, overall student number targets by level and year of study to meet community needs as agreed with the Government, the breakdown of these numbers between institutions, as agreed in principle by the institutions. The Committee also provides the institutions with developmental and academic advice, having regard to international standards and practice, monitors the performance of the universities and promotes higher standards at a system level.

In respect of capital works projects, the UGC advises both institutions and the Government on campus development plans and proposals made by institutions, with a view to supporting their academic and overall development.

The Committee has an important role in quality assurance, with a number of peer reviews having been carried out in the past decade. It also promotes and supports institutions in quality assurance and enhancement initiatives and processes, and monitors academic standards of the institutions, in accordance with their role. To strengthen its role in quality assurance, the UGC established under its remit the Quality Assurance Council in April 2007.

In respect of research, the Committee administers Research Assessment Exercises, primarily to inform the distribution of the research portion of block grants to discharge public accountability and to induce improvements in research performance.

The UGC has neither statutory nor executive powers. Each of the higher education institutions is an autonomous body with its own Ordinance and Governing Council. The institutions have substantial freedom in the control of curricula and academic standards, the selection of staff and students, initiation and acceptance of research, and the internal allocation of resources. Nevertheless, because the institutions are largely supported by public funds, and in view of the social, cultural and economic importance of higher education, the Government and the community at large have a legitimate interest in the operation of the institutions in order to ensure that they are providing the highest possible standards of education in the most cost-effective manner. The UGC seeks to maintain an appropriate balance in these matters. It seeks to promote responsible understanding between the institutions, the Government and the community at large. It mediates interests between institution and the Administration. On the one hand, the UGC safeguards the academic freedom and autonomy of the institutions, while on the other it ensures value for money for the taxpayers.




Related Reference

Website of the University Grants Committee