Professor Haiyan Song – Associate Dean and Chair Professor of Tourism, School of Hotel and Tourism Management

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Background

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is one of eight universities in Hong Kong. According to the Times Higher Education (THE), it is the 25th best-ranked university in Asia as of 2019 and the 12th highest young university as of 2021. It is the first institution to provide technical education in Hong Kong.

Professor Haiyan Song has an extensive background in economics with a particular focus on tourism and hotel demand analysis, service recovery, tourist satisfaction, and wine economics. He has written extensively on tourism forecasting methodologies with his work appearing in many academic journals, and he is a frequent speaker on the international conference circuit.

The Challenge

Universities in Hong Kong are subject to a national assessment framework, the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which is carried out in cycles by the University Grants Committee (UGC). Much like the REF (Research Excellence Framework) in the UK and the EIA (Engagement and Impact Assessment) in Australia, the RAE examines various factors to determine how to distribute funding to universities.

However, while research outputs and environmental efforts had always been the key components of the assessment, the 2020 edition of the RAE introduced a new criterion – research impact – which now constitutes 15% of the overall weighting of a submission, and could rise to an even greater stake in the next round. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University needed a way to showcase the impact of its activities in order to satisfy these new requirements.

The Solution

Vertigo Ventures (VV) is a team of impact experts, working with research institutions and universities worldwide to help them improve how they capture, analyse, understand and demonstrate impact. When it came to producing the Impact Case Studies (ICS) needed to support the RAE submission, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University consulted VV to help them maximise their success on the 2020 framework.

VV worked closely with the School of Hotel and Tourism Management to bring in knowledge and success strategies learned from other international assessments (such as the UK’s REF), providing guidance around best practices and detailed analysis of the key differentiators of higher-ranked case studies. The team is now able to scale up its impactful research by providing skills and knowledge across the faculty.

The Results

As a result of this work, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University saw nearly one third of its impact case studies receiving a rating of 4* and more than half receiving a rating of 3*, coming in third place when contrasting institutional performance in the RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) 2020 impact results.

Testimonial – Professor Haiyan Song

“The Vertigo Ventures team was very thorough and provided lots of context along with examples of successful planning and execution of case studies in the REF, for example. I was able to gain a really clear picture of how to understand and present impact within case studies, including effective formats and methods for including testimonials.

“It was a big learning curve – this was the first time the RAE included impact. But examining in depth the difference between a 4* and 2* case study was invaluable. Furthermore, the session by Vertigo Ventures that introduced impactful research to most of the faculty was extremely useful and we have recommended this training to other departments across the university.

“Overall, VV was instrumental in the development of our Impact Case Studies for RAE 2020 and I found this personally extremely educational and beneficial as well.”

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