Struggling fund set to cap grants

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2002, 12:00am

A special fund to improve the quality of education will be capped for the first time to enable it to meet its budget.

Total funding for the next round of grants from the Quality Education Fund will be capped at $145 million.

The grant for each project will be capped at $500,000 but the amount can be raised to $5 million in exceptional cases.

The fund's steering committee chairman, Irving Koo Er-yiu, said the funding ceiling, based on consultants' recommendations, could ensure the fund is maintained for 20 years.

The fund, set up in 1998 with $5 billion, is open to schools, teaching professionals, individuals and the Education Department.

Mr Koo said the new arrangement was necessary as the committee faced a poor rate of return on its investments and a tight budget.

He said the financial situation would be reviewed regularly, and did not rule out further tightening the fund if returns did not improve.

The criteria for next month's applications have also been tightened. Individuals will only be allowed to apply once, while tertiary institutions can only lodge one application from each department.

Noting that in the past schools made as many as 30 applications at a time, Mr Koo said the committee wanted them to be more selective in their applications.