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LCQ5: University Grants Committee-funded social work programmes

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (October 26):


     Regarding the details of the funds allocated by the University Grants Committee (UGC) to the social work programmes operated by various universities, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) the amount of UGC funds received by the social work programmes operated by various universities and the number of enrollees in those programmes in each of the past three academic years (set out in the table in Annex 1);

(b) of the criteria based on which UGC allocates funds to the social work programmes operated by various universities; and

(c) if UGC has a monitoring mechanism in place to ensure that after receiving the funds, the universities allocate sufficient funds to the social work programmes according to their student number targets?



(a) The approved student numbers of the University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded social work programmes for the 2008/09 to 2010/11 academic years are set out in Annex 2.

(b) and (c) The UGC conducts academic planning and recurrent grants assessment with its funded institutions on a triennial basis. The allocation of undergraduate places is based on the assessment results on the institutions' Academic Development Proposals and their relative performance during the exercise.  Institutions are then required to allocate the student places to individual discipline in accordance with the student number targets proposed by the UGC for the triennium. Apart from a limited number of disciplines subject to the Government's specific manpower requirements with which institutions should meet as far as practicable, institutions have a high degree of freedom to decide on how to allocate the student places received to respective academic faculties and departments. The UGC will then calculate the recurrent grants, comprising both the block grants and the earmarked grants, for individual institution for that particular triennium based on their internal allocation of places to academic programmes. The grant recommendation will be submitted to the Government for consideration, and the Government will then seek the Legislative Council's acceptance of the funding required.

     The block grant system provides for a one-line allocation of resources to the institutions for a funding period without attaching detailed requirements as to how it should be spent. Institutions are free to decide on how to use the grants, for instance the amount of funds to be allocated to individual faculty/department, or between academic and administrative areas. That said, institutions are required to observe the guidelines set out in the "UGC Notes on Procedures" when spending the recurrent grants and/or handling affairs of the institutions.

     In the 2008/09 to 2010/11 academic years, social work was one of the areas subject to Government's specific manpower requirement, and the planning of student places for the discipline should largely follow the Government's targets. However, the funding allocated to the discipline has been counted into the block grant allocated to the respective institutions. As mentioned above, it is within the institutions' autonomy to allocate the funding to individual discipline (including social work discipline), and therefore the UGC does not possess any details on the amount of grants allocated to the social work programmes by the institutions concerned.

Ends/Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:04


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