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London’s two Catholic higher education institutions have announced they have begun talks to discuss forming a "strategic partnership".
Both the governing bodies of Heythrop College, in Kensington, West London and St Mary's University, in Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, have given the go-ahead for the discussions.
"Heythrop and St Mary’s have much in common – they share a strong Catholic tradition, identity and ethos and are both London-based," Fr Michael Holman, the Principal of the Jesuit-run Heythrop College, said.
"They have a long and rich history of serving the Church and wider society, at home and abroad, and over the years have collaborated on a number of projects."
The outgoing vice-chancellor of St Mary's, Dr Arthur Naylor, said in a separate statement that a report was being drawn up on a possible partnership. The report would be examined at meetings in September.
St Mary's, a former teacher training college, was awarded full university status earlier this year and has appointed a former British Ambassador to the Holy See as its new vice-chancellor. Francis Campbell assumes office on 1 August.
Heythrop College, a specialist theology and philosophy college, is part of the University of London and recently celebrated its 400th anniversary.
Heythrop employs eminent academics including Professors John Cottingham and Keith Ward, althought with 800 students it is much smaller that St Mary's, which has 6,000 undergraduates and postgraduates.
To read an in-depth report into the partnership talks, see this week's Tablet.