The University of Wales Bangor and North East Wales Institute of Higher Education may merge to create a University of North Wales.
Merger would be the more radical of two options to be explored in response to calls from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales for all Welsh institutions to submit proposals for greater collaboration by the end of October.
The second option would be to strengthen a strategic alliance that has been in place between Bangor and Newi for more than a year, with more joint courses and shared administrative units.
If Bangor and Newi went ahead with a merger, it would mean a union of different cultures between institutions 73 miles apart, with twin campuses in Bangor and Wrexham.
Bangor is a research-led university with 8,000 full-time equivalent students. Newi, with 6,500 students including a high proportion of part-timers, is geared more to the vocational market.
Newi director Michael Scott said there was a "cultural barrier" to overcome, but argued that bringing together two very different institutions could create a strong new university.
Roy Evans, Bangor's vice-chancellor, stressed that the proposals were only at the stage of going through a feasibility study, which should be completed by Christmas to allow decisions to be made by next Easter.