The bill introduced Thursday in the House by GOP Rep. Jim Merrill and Democratic Rep. Leon Stavrinakis would create a combined Charleston University.

Their statement says they're confident the merger will increase the value and prestige of both institutions and would not adversely affect either. They say merging the two into a comprehensive research university is long overdue.

The idea is backed by House Speaker Bobby Harrell of Charleston.

Representatives of the universities did not immediately respond.

Founded in 1770, the College of Charleston is the nation's 13th oldest college, with about 12,000 students.

Nearly 3,000 students attend MUSC, founded in 1824. More than 500 others are in residency training there.