Lincoln University and University of Canterbury have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will allow the two tertiary education providers to explore future merging options.
The two universities hope that the MOU will help keep New Zealand at the top of the land-based science, commerce and design sectors.
The collaboration comes after discussion between the Government and Lincoln University, around constraints holding back growth of the university, and the support required to make sure it reaches its goals.
Lincoln University Chancellor Steve Smith said institution had approached the University of Canterbury to "explore new innovative partnership options".
Smith hoped the partnership would encourage an increase in people specialised in land-based sectors.
It was important Lincoln University remained at its present site and kept its own identity and brand, he said.
The University of Canterbury was willing to work with Lincoln University for the "mutual benefit of both universities and in New Zealand's national interest", its Chancellor Dr John Wood said.
President of the musical theatre club (MUSOC) at the University of Canterbury, Meg Gerrard, said she felt that the collaboration was a "super positive way to be able to incorporate more people into the clubs".
Gerrard said if the two universities merged, it would create a larger pool of resources for clubs to draw on.