Local scientists may soon qualify for funding from the mainland after high-level talks in Beijing last week, Hong Kong universities announced yesterday. The talks were held between a delegation from six local universities and officials at the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Science Foundation Committee during a three-day visit to the capital. Although no formal agreement was signed, academics said the mainland had promised to look into extending research funding to Hong Kong institutions. The delegation included representatives from Chinese University, the University of Hong Kong, Baptist University, City University, Polytechnic University and the University of Science and Technology. Hong Kong researchers do not qualify for funding from the central government. However, at last week's talks, mainland officials said they would consider changing the rules. They also agreed to look into setting up more national research centres in the city. But Alex Wai Ping-kong, dean of Polytechnic University's Faculty of Education, said it was impossible to tell just how soon the funding would be available. 'It depends whether there is a policy change. The ball is in the central government's court now.'