Welcome to RAE 2020

Background of RAE 2020

The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) is part of the UGC's commitment to assessing the performance of the UGC-funded universities and is intended to encourage world-class research and drive excellence. The RAE assesses the research quality of UGC-funded universities by using international benchmarks to delineate their areas of relative strength and make recommendations for further improvements. The UGC has since conducted five RAEs in 1993, 1996, 1999, 2006 and 2014. The upcoming RAE will be conducted in 2020. The RAE results will be used to inform the distribution of part of the research portion of the UGC Block Grant to institutions.

New Features of RAE 2020

According to the finalized Framework (October 2017) and the Guidance Notes (July 2018), key features of RAE 2020 include:

  1. reduce the number of cost centres to 41 (68 cost centers in RAE 2014) with a view to reducing burden on universities and minimising the fluidity of boundaries between cost centres as far as practicable;
  2. use the term “unit of assessment” in place of “cost centre” to enable clear differentiation between units for the purpose of research assessment and those for other cost-related purposes;
  3. include “Research Impact” and “Research Environment” as new elements of assessment. All elements to be assessed on unit of assessment (UoA) basis with the following proposed weightings :-
    • Research Outputs :  70%
    • Research Impact :  15%
    • Research Environment :  15%
  4. increase the total number of RAE panel members by about 20% in view of the expanded scope and increased complexity of submissions;
  5. engage local “research end-users” or professionals in respective fields (who need not be academics) as lay members to take part in the assessment of impact.


Assessment Period

Six years from 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2019.

  1. Research outputs – 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2019;
  2. Impact – 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2019, in which the impact must be underpinned by research undertaken at, or significantly supported by, the submitting university during the period from 1 January 2000 to 30 September 2019; and
  3. Environment – 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2019.

Census date for reported data: 30 September 2019

Staff Eligibility

Academic staff in each unit of assessment must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for submitting research outputs for the RAE 2020 –

  1. holding a full-time paid appointment at a UGC-funded university for a continuous period of at least 36 months covering the census date, i.e. 30 September 2019, provided that the employment start date was no later than 1 September 2017; and
  2. wholly funded by the university proper# for degree or higher degree work within staff grades of “Professor” to “Assistant Lecturer”, or corresponding to Staff Grades “A” to “I” as defined for the purpose of the UGC Common Data Collection Format (CDCF).

        # Excluding schools/arms of the continuing education and professional training and other analogous organisations.

New Researcher

New researchers present a special case since they may not have had time to produce significant or publishable outputs according to the RAE definition. Therefore, all eligible staff who first took up a full-time academic appointment (in Hong Kong or elsewhere) on or after 1 August 2015 will be given special consideration. Whereas an academic, other than a new researcher or a staff member for whom special consideration/exemption is granted by the UGC, submitting fewer than four research outputs will have any missing output deemed as “unclassified”, a new researcher may reduce the number of outputs without the reduced item(s) being deemed as “unclassified” according to the following scales. However, a new researcher can choose to submit up to four research outputs if he/she so wishes.

Duration of appointment
prior to the census date
Date of appointment # Number of outputs
to be submitted
39 to 50 months Between 1 August 2015 and
31 July 2016 inclusive
3 or 4
27 to 38 months Between 1 August 2016 and
31 July 2017 inclusive
2 to 4
Less than 26 months On or after 1 August 2017 1 to 4

# : "Date of appointment refers to the date the academic first took up a full-time academic appointment in Hong Kong or elsewhere in staff grades “A” to “I” in Hong Kong, or an appointment not below assistant professorship or equivalent outside Hong Kong.