Two London universities are embarking on a major programme of collaboration and have formed a strategic alliance.
Queen Mary, University of London, and City University have agreed a memorandum of understanding committing them to exploring ways of working together.
The institutions are particularly compatible in health education: Queen Mary has a medical school and City has St Bartholomew School of Nursing & Midwifery. Collaborative efforts could also be undertaken in business studies and in engineering.
Queen Mary and City University are also good matches geographically as both operate in the City and East End of London.
Senior figures from both universities have denied that the move might lead to a merger. David Williams, vice-principal of Queen Mary, said it was "far too early" for talk of merging: "At this stage, we certainly do not see a merger on the horizon."
University officers also denied that the collaboration would allow staff numbers to be cut, saying that it was more likely to be a platform for growth and financial benefits.
Professor Williams said: "In the spirit of partnership, we anticipate that we will be more successful in (funding) bids than we would be alone." He said some cost savings might be possible, for example, through sharing computer systems.
The two institutions already run courses jointly, including an undergraduate degree in journalism and contemporary history, and a foundation degree in public administration.
• The head of physics at Queen Mary has quit in protest against job losses in the department. Peter Clegg resigned after four senior members of staff who left the department were not replaced.