Oxford University is considering joining a new consortium of eight of the world's leading research universities in a venture that could lead to shared academic appointments and double degree programmes.
The new grouping - so new it has no formal title - is a direct rival to Universitas 21, the consortium launched by the Manchester University vice-chancellor, Alan Gilbert, when he was vice-chancellor of Melbourne University.
Like U21, the consortium is led by an Australian, Ian Chubb, vice-chancellor of the Australian National University since 2001 and chair of Australia's Group of Eight elite universities.
He will chair the new partnership, which also includes Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley in the US, Peking University, the National University of Singapore, Copenhagen University, ETH Zurich and Tokyo University, in the run-up to its launch next January.
The partnership will aim to increase opportunities for global research, teaching and learning through faculty collaboration and exchange, research training cooperation, undergraduate and postgraduate student exchange, joint/ double degree programmes, exchange of best practices and protocols, and benchmarking.
There is a small overlap with U21 - Peking and the National University of Singapore are members of both organisations.
Professor Chubb said: "The partnership comprises a selected group of research-intensive universities that share similar values, a global vision and a commitment to educating future world leaders."
An Oxford spokesman said: "Oxford held preliminary discussions with representatives from the ANU and NUS earlier in the year, and we will be joining the scoping discussions with the members of the partnership this month. However, no decision will be taken until after the late July meetings or before the university's council has been able to consider the proposals formally."