Lincoln University and Telford Rural Polytechnic based in South Otago are considering the case for a merger, which could take effect next year.
The organisations say the merger would complement the working relationships that both already have with other educational bodies.
Lincoln University and Crown research institute AgResearch explored a merger proposal last year, but that did not eventuate. They have continued discussions on an education and research partnership.
Lincoln and Telford started discussions about 18 months ago and have reached the stage of working up a business case to present to the Government, with the aim of confirming a merger plan by the beginning of next year.
Wider move to integrate education and research
Lincoln Vice-Chancellor Roger Field says the move is part of wider efforts to better integrate education and research related to land-based industries.
Telford chief executive Jonathan Walmisley says it would smooth the path for students to get access to agricultural diploma and degree courses at Lincoln, and provide access to research to better inform tutors.
The polytechnic is a sub-degree training provider with 7500 full-time and part-time students.
Lincoln says it will also continue to build its relationships with Massey University and various industry partners, including Ngai Tahu.
For its part, Telford says it will also continue to build links. Partnerships include involvement in a bee-keeping school in Northland.