YOU CANNOT be what you cannot see as far as Tamworth University Reference Group chair Mitch Hanlon is concerned.
The plan for a University of New England (UNE) campus in the city CBD is full-steam ahead, but Mr Hanlon said the state government still has not released any of the $26 million it promised in February last year so concept plans can be developed.
"We need to keep the pressure on the state and federal government and keep them accountable," he said.
"We were waiting for the state government to release some money from the $26 million to develop the concept plans for the physical building, it takes some time but it is ongoing with the government."
The university's director of strategic research initiatives David Miron confirmed no funds have been released from the promised $26.6 million.
"UNE has been working closely with the NSW government to make the funds available and has requested $2 million of the $26.6 million to develop a shovel-ready project for a new UNE Tamworth building," he said.
"There is a process that the NSW government has to follow for any funding proposal and this takes time."
In the meantime, UNE will deliver courses into Tamworth from trimester one next year, specifically tailored for the region.
The courses will cover business, sports science, event management, creative industries, health and education and use the new UNE Integrated Industry Centres.
The first is at AELEC and the other at the Sports Dome, where courses will include workplace learning to equip students for future careers.
It comes as a new economic impact study for the Regional Universities Network (RUN), of which UNE is a member, reveals that if 6000 more students from rural and regional areas enrolled, a further 690 jobs would be created and a further $122 million contributed to the economy.
A Department of Regional NSW spokeswoman said the state government fully supports the campus in Tamworth.
"Following the NSW government's commitment of $26.6 million in February 2019, the university was not able to secure the balance of funding for the full project scope," she said.
A revised business case was submitted by UNE in April this year, with more data and supporting evidence to assist in the state government's funding assessment process.
The spokeswoman said the assessment of that revised business case is close to being finalised.
Mr Hanlon believes a university presence should be established in every regional centre.
"The regional centres need to develop opportunities here, we as a society have to stop whinging about how hard we have it in the bush, we need to solve our own problems and create advantages to living in the country," he said.
The story No funds promised for university campus released 19 months on first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.