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HKBU well positioned to support higher education initiatives in Hong Kong’s 2019-20 budget

In a recent press release, the President of the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) welcomed the 2019-20 Budget’s various financial support initiatives which will help to enhance universities’ research capacity, nurture talent, and promote the development of knowledge transfer and creative industries.

The press release stated that HKBU is well-prepared to support the Government’s strategic direction on higher education development.

The Financial Secretary’s Budget announced various plans including:

  • The injection of HK$20 billion into the Research Endowment Fund of the Research Grants Council under the University Grants Committee (UGC);
  • Provisional additional funding for the Technology Transfer Offices of designated universities, the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities, and the State Key Laboratories and Hong Kong branches of the Chinese National Engineering Research Centre will be doubled to support more Research and Design (R&D) work and the realisation of R&D results;
  • The provision of HK$16 billion for UGC-funded universities to enhance or refurbish campus facilities, in particular the provision of additional facilities essential for R&D activities (such as laboratories); and
  • To attract more local graduates to the industry, the Government will extend the funding period of both the Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub Programme from two years to three years, and increase, with immediate effect, the monthly allowance of participating postgraduates.

PolyU’s President said that the additional financial support can help universities conduct a wide range of research and provide a better teaching and research environment for university researchers and students.

With regards to the Government’s injection of an additional HK$1 billion into the Film Development Fund, the PolyU President noted that the flexible policies and financial support mechanisms will help to promote the on-going development of the film industry and enable more young talents to unleash their creative potential.

The Government also plans to double the number of winning teams to six and increase the amount of funding available to the First Feature Film Initiative by 50%.

PolyU’s President also suggested that the concept of the Film Development Fund could be extended to other creative industry groups, such as visual arts and music, as this could help consolidate the capacities of various arts groups and develop Hong Kong into a creative hub.

In an earlier report by OpenGov Asia, the budget noted that the current job market is seeing keen global competition for technology talent. Thus, the Government introduced the Technology Talent Admission Scheme in June 2018 to expedite the admission of such talent to undertake R&D activities in Hong Kong.

The HKSAR Government is thus committed to encouraging enterprises to employ local employees and interns concurrently. Over 200 places have been approved under the scheme so far. The implementation details of the scheme will be reviewed in the first half of 2019.

In addition, the Researcher Programme has so far sponsored over 3,700 local graduates to join the I&T industry. The Postdoctoral Hub Programme launched last year has also sponsored over 350 postdoctoral talents to pursue a career in R&D.

The funding period of both the Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub Programme has been extended from two years to three years with immediate effect. This means R&D institutes or enterprises can hire relevant R&D talents for three years which give them ample time for demonstrating their professional strengths in R&D projects.

It is expected that the universities, like HKBU, will, in developing or enhancing hardware, give due and priority consideration to I&T needs to ensure that their teaching and research facilities can meet the objective of nurturing I&T talent.

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