Croucher Summer Courses

Notes for grant applicants

These notes are for university staff wishing to organise Croucher Summer Courses in Hong Kong. If you are a postgraduate student or early career researcher and are interested in participating in a Croucher Summer Course please click here.

A Croucher Summer Course is a residential course held over a period of approximately five days, which sets out to educate and inspire a small group of (approximately 25-30) very promising postgraduate students and early career researchers from Hong Kong and the wider region. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned scientists, network with peers, participate in engaging and interactive discussions and, depending on the subject of the course, gain practical experience in the laboratory.

Format

Each course includes lectures in the morning and evening with workshops, tutorials, poster sessions, and demonstrations in the afternoon. There should be a special emphasis on student-faculty interaction. There should be diversity among the faculty, in terms of scientific discipline, and among student participants, in terms of stage of career and research interests. Although the course schedule will be quite full, it is recommended that time is set aside to allow participants to enjoy the natural beauty of Hong Kong.

Subject areas

Priority will be given to subject areas which are judged through a process of international peer review to be topical and relevant, and which are likely to be appealing to the target audience of promising young researchers in Hong Kong and the wider region. Moreover, since funding will be available for a series of three courses in the first instance, applicants are expected to show how they intend to modify and develop the content of the course over time. The Croucher Foundation is dedicated to promoting the standard of the natural sciences, technology and medicine in Hong Kong.

Summer Course Director, Co-Director and Organising Committee

Applicants should assume the role of the Director of the Summer Course, and must provide under Section 10 of the application form details about his/her own scientific background. Additionally, it is recommended that a Co-Director, most likely an academic from overseas with experience of running or teaching similar courses, is recruited by the Director. The Summer Course Director is responsible for the preparation of the scientific programme, the selection of participants, and the administration of the meeting. He/she should, inter alia, ensure the evolution of the lecture programme as a teaching exercise, encourage the formation of smaller tutorial groups, support the participants’ expression of their own work, normally through poster sessions, indicate relevant reference material, and ensure the delivery of final texts for publication. The Summer Course Director should publicise the Summer Course to attract target participants. He/she may be assisted by a small Organising Committee preferably composed of three to four scientists from more than one institution and, if appropriate, from different research sectors.

Registration fees

The registration fee should not exceed HK$5,000 for a five-day practical course. Most Croucher Summer Courses are expected to charge a registration fee (including accommodation and meals) of approximately HK$3,000. At the discretion of the Summer Course Director, the registration fee may be waived for selected students. Registration fees should be paid directly to local university hosting the Summer Course and included as income in the final financial statement.

Public lectures

Faculty will normally give lectures on the theoretical basis and applications of the techniques being taught. These lectures are strictly for the course participants. It may, however, be appropriate to invite faculty to deliver additional research seminars or public lectures to the wider local research community. These seminars will usually take place after the course has finished and should be completely separate from the practical course, which should be a coherent, full-time programme of activities reserved solely for the participants.

Participation

The choice of faculty and Summer Course participants is the responsibility of the Summer Course Directors assisted by the Organizing Committee. Summer Course students should be chosen for their appropriate qualifications following their responses to both open announcements in universities and relevant professional communities inside Hong Kong and by invitation. A Summer Course is primarily aimed at postgraduate students and early career researchers. It is important that all participants, including participants from Hong Kong will stay for the entire duration of the Summer Course in the residential accommodation provided to ensure full interaction.

Students must be of sufficient caliber to contribute actively during the course. Prospective lecturers may be approached before preparation of the application; an indication of their degree of commitment to participate will help the application since this has a bearing on the assessment of the application. Applications with a low degree of lecturer commitment stand a reduced chance of being awarded. If a grant is approved, the Applicant must confirm to the Foundation that the lecturers proposed will attend the Summer Course. There should only be about five to eight lecturers for each Summer Course to make the size manageable.

The majority of Summer Course students should be from Hong Kong and preferably from more than one university. However, to increase the benefit of networking with peers, participation by students from the wider region should be actively encouraged.

Funding

The Croucher Foundation will in general provide successful applicants with a grant of HK$600,000 per course for three courses to be held once every two years over a period of six years. The grant is intended to cover direct organisational expenses, the travel and living expenses of lecturers, and to contribute to some students’ travel and living expenses. In addition, registration fees paid by students will increase the total budget for the event. The specific level of funding awarded to organise a Summer Course is determined by the Croucher Foundation on a case by case basis, taking into account the number of lecturers, and the size, duration and location of the meeting.

The Course Directors should minimise costs through efficient organisation and choice of location. To make optimal use of funds, the Course Director should decide on the most appropriate allocation of funds to the various lines of the budget and the level of support to individual participants. Entertainment expenses should be minimized. As a condition of the grant, the meeting must be designated a “Croucher Summer Course”.

Location

Croucher Summer Courses are to be held in Hong Kong preferably on the premises of a university with a suitable residential setting. It is not a programme to be held at an expensive conference venue. Appropriate lecture facilities, training laboratories, equipment and consumables, and a suitable space for poster sessions should be secured well in advance. It is recommended that residential accommodation is located within walking distance of the course venue.

Applications

All applicants must be acutely aware that their applications are reviewed by leading international experts in the relevant fields. Selection of applications by the Foundation is based on the recommendations of the opinions of these independent reviewers. Elements involved in evaluating an application include its scientific content, the importance and the topicality of the course, the research and teaching design of the course to achieve its educational objective, the scientific background of the proposed lecturers, the qualifications of the proposed participants and their commitment, the stated objective and the appropriateness of the format and level of commitment. In approving a grant, the Foundation may suggest modifications in form, content, personnel and estimated costs. A Summer Course is essentially a teaching and not a public relations activity. Applicants must try to exclude ceremonial, banquets or items of a public relations nature from their budget proposals.

Applications for Croucher Foundation sponsorship and funding of a Summer Course should be submitted through the relevant administrative office in one of the universities in Hong Kong by 30th June. The Foundation considers requests for Summer Course support once a year. Please enter the online system here.

As the Foundation only accepts applications through relevant designated University offices and there are institutional quotas for entries, each University may at its discretion pronounce an internal deadline for screening applications. Prospective applicants are advised to check with their own university administrative offices in preparing their proposals. The Foundation does not provide critiques for unsuccessful applications.

Longer-term objectives

After an initial period of six years (total of three course to be held once every two years), the Foundation will review the progress of each successful application with a view to continuing support over a further period of six years. The intention in the longer-term is to establish in Hong Kong a small portfolio of world-renowned short courses with the potential to strengthen the position of Hong Kong as a regional centre for education and research.