THERE'S been a groundswell of support from all sections of the community for the University of New England's proposal to build a 500-person campus in Tamworth.
At this week's community meeting, everyone from business owners to student careers advisers packed out the room to listen to what UNE had to say.
But does Tamworth need its own campus with Armidale just up the road?
At 61,000, Tamworth has the second largest population of all the Evocities - a group of regional NSW cities that includes Wagga Wagga, Albury, Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo and Armidale.
All Evocities, except Tamworth, support a university campus to some level.
And despite it's large population, Tamworth is falling behind its fellow regional hubs.
It has the second lowest median weekly salary at $768, the lowest percentage of population with a university qualification at 10.4 per cent and the lowest percentage of people attending university at 1.7 per cent.
It's pretty clear these three statistic are linked. The average number of people studying in regional NSW is 2.9 per cent, while the average number for Evocities is 4.34 per cent, so Tamworth definitively has room for improvement.
Universities are often a catalysis to supercharge the economy of cities, and are recognised as one of the most reliable return-on-investments a city can make.
They can have a huge economic impact. While the CSU campus at Orange is much larger than the proposed Tamworth campus, it gives a good indication of the economic impact universities bring to the city.
It contributes $42.2 million of Gross Regional Product, 311 full-time equivalent jobs and $26.9 million in wages.
On top of that, it will stop some of the skills drain the city faces, as young professionals leave to pursue their education.
Research shows people are more likely to get a job in the area they studied - and if you need proof, just look at the 20 intern doctors that took up a job at the Tamworth hospital this year.
The vast majority study at the University of Newcastle medical campus next to the hospital