Dundee\'s three higher education institutions have announced there is no possibility of them merging. Abertay University, Dundee University and Dundee College will all remain independent, a joint statement with the Scottish Funding Council confirmed. However, the bodies will discuss how they can achieve \"closer collaboration\" in a bid to save money. The decision was reached after \"very open and positive discussions\", the statement said. Abertay University was thought to be particularly vulnerable to any plans to merge some Scottish universities. It has 4,250 students, making it one of the smallest universities in the UK, and is located close to Dundee University, which has more than 17,000 students. With only a minority of its income coming from sources such as research grants and overseas students, Abertay depends on the Scottish government for 60% of its funding. \'Distinctive missions\' The university was also asked to suspend its search for a new principal, though this has now restarted. A joint statement said the three institutions would remain \"autonomous and independent bodies, with distinctive missions, visions and values\". It added: \"The three institutions have further agreed, with the support of the Scottish Funding Council, to engage in detailed discussions on options for closer collaboration that will enhance their contribution to achieving the Scottish government\'s aims and objectives for post-16 education across Scotland.\" Future discussions will examine how similar courses could be aligned \"more closely\", initially in life sciences and sports education. The aim would be \"maximising opportunities\" for students wanting to progress from further to higher education.