The impasse over the government's funding for universities next year is unlikely to be resolved this month. The Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) caused the deadlock in the Legislative Council last week by vetoing the plan which involves a 10 per cent budget cut for the sector. The party is now waiting to discuss the issue with university presidents. But Paul Chu Ching-wu, president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who is also convenor of the Heads of Universities Committee, is away from Hong Kong until Monday week. The committee will meet after his return. Lingnan University president Edward Chen Kwan-yiu was confident funding would be approved before the universities' financial year begins in July. 'What is happening is a political process. A proposal acceptable to both the government and the political parties will eventually be agreed on. I don't think the government needs to resort to a contingency fund to help universities pay their staff.' DAB legislator Yeung Yiu-chung said the party would support any consensus reached between universities, the Federation of Higher Education Staff Associations and the University Grants Committee. Professor Chen said that universities had already agreed to next year's planned budget reduction and were trying to accommodate the cuts. But he added that he hoped there would be no further cuts in the following triennium. Programme restructuring is on the agenda at Lingnan, both in response to the funding cut and to keep up with changing times. He said the funding cut would pose difficulties for the liberal arts education his institution advocated. 'We need money for direct student services and other support programmes important for our mission. Language training is a top priority for us. We need to provide students with outside classroom training such as debating activities,' he said. Education chief Arthur Li Kwok-cheung told Legco this week that a funding plan for 2005-2008 had been submitted to the University Grants Committee, with no further cuts until 2007-2008.