Dr Chen, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to join you all today for the Yidan Prize Laureates Announcement.
As the Principal Official responsible for education policy in Hong Kong, I treasure every opportunity to share with you how important I see education as the key to nurturing talents for our society. Education equips our people, particularly the youngsters, with the necessary knowledge and skills to seize the opportunities brought by societal development and achieve upward mobility. For this reason, the Hong Kong SAR Government places great emphasis on the development of quality education, which warrants our huge investments in terms of manpower and financial resources. At present, education remains the top spending area among all Government expenses, with a share of around 21.5 per cent of the Government’s total recurrent expenditure.
Teaching and research are considered the two principal missions of the higher education sector. I am pleased to note that the Yidan Prize, sharing the same vision as the Government’s, recognises outstanding individuals and organisations for their profound contributions to education research and development. So, today, I would like to say a bit more about the Government’s support for the research work undertaken by our higher education sector, and the great importance we attach to it.
The Hong Kong SAR Government has been striving to promote innovation and research over the years to bring new economic drive to our society and improve people’s standard of living. In 2016/17, the reported aggregate expenditure on the research of universities funded by the University Grants Committee, or UGC in short, amounted to over $10 billion, representing an increase of more than 43% over a 5-year period. Of this amount, the grants from the Government constituted the greatest part of research expenditure incurred by institutions. We are currently providing UGC-funded universities with recurrent grants of $4.3 billion for research purpose and more than $1 billion for competitive researching funding under the Research Grants Council per annum. Funding schemes administered by other Government Bureaux also provide over $0.9 billion per annum. The remaining $3.8 billion comes from private funding source. In addition to UGC-funded universities, we are also providing other higher education institutions with around $80 million to support and encourage their research efforts. Funding commitment from the Government is ever increasing.
To build up a local research talent pool, we have launched a Tuition Waiver Scheme for Local Research Postgraduate Students to provide tuition waiver for all local students enrolled in UGC-funded research postgraduate programmes. Besides, the Task Force on Review of Research Policy and Funding led by Professor Tsui Lap-chee has just completed a comprehensive review on existing research support strategy for the higher education sector, as well as issues relating to the research regime of the higher education sector in Hong Kong. The Government has already set aside no less than $10 billion as additional funding for university research. We will consider the Task Force’s recommendations and allocate resources to further support the academic and research development of the higher education sector.
The Government’s support for research development in the higher education sector is not geographically confined to Hong Kong. Today’s world is a better-connected place. This is the result of technological advancement and free flow of people across boundaries. Our universities join hands with their counterparts over the world in undertaking cutting-edge research projects. In particular, the Greater Bay Area development presents our research community with greater opportunities, ranging from research collaboration to commercialisation of research output. I am most delighted to learn that the Yidan Prize does not only recognise exemplary research projects that make significant contibutions to education worldwide. It also establishes a platform that allows members of the global community to engage in dialogues about education.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all who have made the Yidan Prize Foundation a success. It is particularly encouraging to see that the Foundation’s heart and soul lie right here in Hong Kong, a valuable member in the Pacific Rim and most importantly, a place that values education and research highly.
In closing, I would like to convey my heartfelt congratulations to all the laureates of the Yidan Prize and wish everyone a most enjoyable afternoon.