Research Fellow Scheme (RFS) and RGC Senior Research Fellow Scheme (SRFS)

Call illustration

What is it?

The RGC Research Fellow Scheme (RFS) (or RGC Senior Research Fellow Scheme (SRFS)) aims to provide sustained support and relief from teaching and administrative duties to exceptionally outstanding researchers at Associate Professor rank (or full Professor rank) at UGC-funded universities in Hong Kong, with a view to facilitating their full dedication to research and development and helping universities attract and retain research talent.

What makes it special?

In each round of the yearly exercise, both RFS and SRFS will provide ten places encompassing all academic disciplines. Each awardee will receive support for a period of 60 months in the manner of relief from teaching and administrative duties, and research funding support covering salary costs for relief teachers and support for research project including staff, equipment, travel, subsistence and dissemination costs.

Each RFS awardee will be conferred the title "RGC Research Fellow" and the supporting university will receive a fellowship grant at around HK$5.2 million per award (a uniform rate is applied for both non-clinical and clinical academics) over a period of 60 months.

Each SRFS awardee will be conferred the title "RGC Senior Research Fellow" and the supporting university will receive a fellowship grant at around HK$7.8 million per award (a uniform rate is applied for both non-clinical and clinical academics) over a period of 60 months.

Who is eligible?

All eight UGC-funded universities are eligible to nominate up to six candidates (at Associate Professor rank) for RFS and six candidates (at full Professor rank) for SRFS in each exercise. Each nomination should include the research proposal of the project to be undertaken by the nominated candidate during the fellowship period.

The candidate must:

  1. obtain a legal right to work and reside in Hong Kong during the fellowship period;
  2. have a full-time** academic appointment at a UGC-funded university proper1 at the time of nomination and during the fellowship period;
  3. have been serving the supporting UGC-funded university proper* on a full-time** basis for not less than three years continuously at the time of nomination;
  4. be a tenured/substantiated Associate Professor (or equivalent) and at Staff Grade from “C” to “G” for RFS [be a tenured/substantiated full Professor (or equivalent) and at Staff Grade from “A” to “D” for SRFS] at the time of nomination;
  5. be primarily engaged in and spending at least 80%*** of time in degree or higher degree work at the supporting UGC-funded university proper*; and
  6. have his/her salary wholly funded by the supporting UGC-funded university proper*.

While no restriction/ limit on age is imposed, the candidate’s remaining years of tenured/ substantiated service should be sufficient to complete a full course of the fellowship before attaining the supporting university’s official normal retirement age.

Subject to exceptional consideration on a case-by-case basis, the requirements above may be relaxed for Hong Kong talent working overseas so that they are incentivised to return to Hong Kong and take up the fellowship. In this connection, an RFS overseas candidate nominated by a UGC-funded university would be eligible for consideration if he/ she:

  1. is a Hong Kong permanent resident with the right of abode in Hong Kong as defined under the Immigration Ordinance****;
  2. is a researcher at a university/institute outside Hong Kong at the time of nomination with academic/research profile equivalent to Associate Professor for RFS [with academic/research profile equivalent to full Professor for SRFS]; and
  3. has warranted support by a UGC-funded university proper1 at which he/she will hold the fellowship, with a tenured/substantiated full-time** appointment***** at Staff Grade from “C” to “G” for RFS [at Staff Grade from “A” to “D” for SRFS] commencing within the following year after the close of nomination.

* Excluding schools/arms of continuing education and professional training and other analogous outfits

** Not including visiting or honorary appointment

*** The percentage concerned may be subject to review and revision as and when required.

**** For definition of Hong Kong permanent residents under the Immigration Ordinance, please refer to https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/roa/eligible.html

***** The full-time appointment concerned shall be primarily engaged in and spending at least 80%3 of time in degree or higher degree work at the supporting UGC-funded university proper, with salary wholly funded by the supporting UGC-funded university proper.

Assessment Criteria

Candidates will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  1. qualifications and research capability;
  2. proven research track record to date;
  3. leadership quality and vision in the chosen area of research;
  4. merit of the research proposal, including methodology, scope, theoretical framework, etc.;
  5. feasibility of the proposed research project including planning, management and resources;
  6. contribution and potential impact of the proposed research project, including knowledge transfer and research impact; and
  7. university’s support.

In the course of assessing a candidate’s leadership quality and vision, due regard will be given to a candidate’s mentoring success and past experience in developing Research Postgraduate (RPg) students and junior researchers (including Post-doctoral Fellows, if any), as well as the candidate’s engagement plan to train/ nurture the next generation of research talent/ young researchers via the proposed research project under the fellowship. Taking into consideration that senior academics should be more committed in nurturing and mentoring young researchers, the weighting accorded in the assessment metrics on leadership will be more for SRFS candidates than that for RFS candidates.

Nominees of RFS and SRFS of all academic disciplines are subject to assessment by either of the two selection panels: (i) Humanities, Social Sciences and Business Studies (H-Panel); and (ii) Sciences, Medicine, Engineering and Technology (S-Panel). Shortlisted candidates for RFS/SRFS will be invited for interview by the selection panel concerned during May/June of the next year.

Nomination Procedures

Nominees and supporting universities are advised to read the nomination details as set out in the operation guide, guidance notes and call letter before completing and signing the nomination forms. Nomination forms must be submitted by universities. The nomination deadline for the RFS/SRFS (2023/24) is 30 November 2022 (Wednesday). Nominations must be submitted to the UGC Secretariat by 5:00 pm on that day.

Please click here for the call letter from the RGC Secretary to the Heads of UGC-funded universities inviting nominations.

To download the latest forms, please click here.

Institution
Application date
Duration
60 months
Discipline
Humanities
Social sciences