Hong Kong must allocate PhD research funds on academic merit, not residency status
In his recent column, “The future looks bright for Hong Kong’s scientists and scholars”, Professor Rocky S. Tuan, the new president and vice chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, spoke of the shining prospects for the local research community, referring to new funding from the mainland and Hong Kong governments.
While extra financial resources for local scientists are always welcome, the government must offer more support for doctoral students in Hong Kong, irrespective of their residency status.
Thanks to additional support from the government, local research students do not have to pay the tuition fees for pursuing their PhD in the new academic year. Yet, this tuition waiver is not available for non-local students who are the majority of the research student community.
In the spirit of meritocracy, the government should have allocated the additional resources based on students’ academic accomplishments, instead of residency status.
In addition to financial support, research students also need more help to advance their academic careers that often hinge on their research publications. With limited experience in academic communication, research students often struggle at various stages of writing for research publication.
According to the University Grants Committee (UGC), research students in Hong Kong only publish a limited number of research articles. As the numbers alone cannot provide a full picture of the academic publications of research students, more information is needed to better understand their needs. Since the research students are supported by tax money, the UGC should track their research publications rigorously to ensure public funds are well spent.
To further motivate research students to publish their work, local universities should make research publication a graduation requirement and encourage faculty members to co-author journal articles with research students. More help from language teachers should also be provided for research students to overcome their linguistic difficulties in research publication.
It is hoped that Professor Tuan could lead the efforts to help research students, whose professional success is essential for realising his vision for the local research community.
Simon Wang, Kowloon Tong