For discussion EC(96-97)4
on 10 April 1996


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee -

  1. the creation of a new grade and rank of Secretary-General, University Grants Committee (D4) ($126,100 - $129,950); and
  2. the creation of one permanent post of Secretary-General, University Grants Committee (D4) ($126,100 - $129,950) to be offset by the deletion of one post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4) in the Secretariat, University Grants Committee.


The existing rank and grade of the post of Secretary-General, University Grants Committee (SG,UGC) pitched at Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (AOSGB1) does not cater for the unique nature and the requirement for continuity of the post in fulfilling the tasks required by the University Grants Committee (UGC).


2. The Secretary for Education and Manpower proposes to create a new grade and rank of Secretary General, University Grants Committee (SG,UGC) (D4). He also proposes to create such a permanent post to be offset by the deletion of the existing post of AOSGB1 (D4) in the UGC Secretariat.



3. An Administrative Officer Staff Grade B post was created in 1979 to head the then University and Polytechnic Grants Committee (now University Grants Committee (UGC)) Secretariat. We upgraded the post to AOSGB1(D4) in June 1991. The main duties and responsibilities of the post are at the Enclosure . As the tertiary education sector expands rapidly in the past few years, with the number of first-year-first-degree places increasing substantially from 7 426 in 1989-90 to 14 500 in 1994-95, the role of the UGC in advising Government on the development and financial needs of the tertiary institutions has become more important and hence the work of SG,UGC more complex.

4. The job of SG,UGC is becoming increasingly complex. As the head of the UGC Secretariat, SG,UGC is responsible for maintaining a close communication between the UGC and Government. He is not only required to be familiar with Government’s policies on education and finance but also acquainted with the system of both local and overseas tertiary institutions. One of the important functions of the UGC is to advise Government on the financial needs of the seven local tertiary institutions and to administer government grants to the UGC-funded institutions. To achieve these tasks effectively, SG,UGC has to command good grasp of the complex funding mechanisms and in-depth knowledge on the overall development and financial performance of the institutions. The UGC, with the assistance of a consultant, has recently developed a funding methodology which gives a far more rigorous and precise assessment of the resources required to meet the teaching and research targets of each institution, and introduces for the first time an element of funding specifically related to recent performance of institutions in research. There is further scope to build on this methodology to reward performance and enhance quality of both research and teaching. SG,UGC is naturally tasked to oversee and monitor the development of the funding mechanism with a view to fulfilling quality performance and cost-effectiveness targets as directed by the UGC.

5. As one of its initiatives to promote the quality of tertiary education, the UGC has embarked on the Teaching Learning Quality Process Reviews at the UGC-funded institutions with a view to putting in place both the awareness and the mechanisms for enhancing teaching and learning quality in the institutions. These Reviews entail detailed preparation of a review structure and documentation on the university administrations, organising discussion sessions, seminars, visits and finally production of review reports. The UGC will also be conducting a Research Assessment Exercise to assess the research output performance of the UGC-funded institutions with a view to ensuring quality output of research on one hand and assessing the research capabilities of institutions on the other. All these activities require strong leadership and initiative on the part of the head of the UGC Secretariat to plan, co-ordinate and conduct the various management exercises.


6. Apart from the increasingly complex nature of the job, the need for continuity has become an essential feature of the job which makes it a difficult requirement if the post continues to be filled by the Administrative Officer grade. The UGC basically follows a triennial planning cycle to coincide with the recurrent grant allocation exercise for the tertiary institutions. The cycle starts three years before the commencement of each triennium and it covers the following stages -

  1. the issue of “start” letters from the Chairman of the UGC to the heads of the institutions, setting out Government’s broad policy guidelines and parameters (including the student number targets and special manpower requirements);
  2. the consideration of the academic development proposals submitted by the institutions and the notification of the UGC’s advice on these proposals to the institutions in the form of “allocution” letters;
  3. the examination of estimates submitted by the institutions (which set out the recurrent expenditures of the academic development proposals supported by the UGC) and the detailed grants assessment exercises; and
  4. the submission of the grant recommendations to Government and, following the approval of the financial implications by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the issue of “allocation” letters giving details of the approved grants.

7. UGC’s triennial planning cycle would mean a preferred posting for SG,UGC of a minimum of four to five years if continuity is to be maintained and expertise to be developed. Given such constraints, finding a suitable AOSGB1 officer who can be posted to fill the post sufficiently long to be in command of the job would not be easy, and having once gained full competency he or she would be overdue for posting within the Administrative Officer grade.

Relationship with heads of the UGC-funded institutions and overseas academics

8. SG,UGC has to maintain an effective dialogue between the UGC, the tertiary institutions and Government. He must fully realize the position of the UGC as Government’s adviser on matters of tertiary education policy, conversant with management of the tertiary institutions and acting competently as a bridge between Government and the tertiary education sector. To discharge these responsibilities effectively, SG,UGC has to work closely with heads of institutions and senior officials in Government. He is also required to maintain regular contact with eminent academics and educational administrators both locally and overseas. It is, therefore, essential for SG,UGC to establish a cordial relationship and an on-going rapport with prominent academic leaders in the educational field as well as policy makers who are involved in the administration and development of tertiary education. Frequent change of personality in the post of SG,UGC would obviously disrupt this established relationship and be contrary to the long term interest of the work of the UGC.

9. In view of the above reasons, we consider it appropriate to convert the SG,UGC post into a one-rank departmental grade so that all suitable candidates (and not just those within the Administrative Officer grade) can be considered for appointment.


10. The annual salary cost of this proposal at MID-POINT is -

$ No. of post

New permanent post




Existing permanent post



Additional cost



The proposal has no additional financial implications.


11. The Civil Service Branch supports the proposal to convert the SG,UGC post into a one-rank departmental grade post in view of the specialised nature of its duties. The ranking and grading of the proposed post is appropriate.


12. The Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service has advised that the grading proposed for the permanent post would be appropriate if the post were to be created.

Education and Manpower Branch
March 1996

Enclosure to EC(96-97)4

Secretary-General, University Grants Committee (D4)

Main duties and responsibilities

Responsible to the Chairman, University Grants Committee (UGC) and the Secretary for Education and Manpower for -

  1. providing administrative and secretarial support to the UGC, its Sub-committees and the Research Grants Council;
  2. providing advice on the assessment, administration and monitoring of the recurrent and capital grants made to the UGC-funded institutions;
  3. supervising the work of the UGC Secretariat; and overseeing and monitoring the allocation of grants to the UGC-funded institutions and related financial consultancies;
  4. providing advice on matters relating to the funding and development of tertiary education in Hong Kong; and
  5. liaising and maintaining dialogue with the Government, tertiary institutions and other organizations in academic circles and the press on the development and funding of tertiary education.

Checklist for ESC Submission

Creation of a new rank and one permanent post of Secretary General, University Grants Committee

  1. Necessity to go to FC

    Creation of a new rank and a permanent directorate post requires ESC’s endorsement and FC’s approval.

  2. Authority

    SEM considers it appropriate to create a new rank of Secretary-General, University Grants Committee and a permanent post of the new rank in order to open up the post of SG,UGC given its specialised nature and to maintain continuity in the provision of advice on the assessment, administration and monitoring of the grants for the 1998-2001 triennium to the UGC-funded institutions. SEM has discussed the proposal with SCS and CS and obtained their agreement.

  3. Funding

    The proposal has no financial implications.

  4. Political assessment

    The proposal itself would not be sensitive and there may not be widespread interest on the proposal. Nevertheless, some Members may wish to understand from the Administration the general policy and guidelines in determining which type of posts should be filled by departmental staff and which by Administrative Officers. There might also be interest in knowing whether the Administration would put the SG,UGC post up for open recruitment. Critics may question if there were hidden agenda of tailor making the post for certain candidates whom the Administration has in mind.

  5. Lobbying requirement

    SEM does not consider active lobbying is required but would brief Members of the Education Panel.

  6. Fallback option

    In the unlikely scenario that Members raise objection to the proposal, SEM suggests the item be put to vote.

  7. Attendance at ESC meeting

    Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower (1) (Mr Matthew Cheung), Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (Dr. Iris Budge-Reid) and Deputy Secretary General, University Grants Committee (Miss Grace Lui) will attend the meeting.

  8. Special consideration


Last Updated on 3 December 1998