THE business chamber has brushed aside claims only one quarter of current high school students would attend a Tamworth-based university.
While there has been a groundswell of support this year to get a university campus established in town, a survey of more than 1400 current Tamworth high school students found only a quarter would enrol in a local uni.
However, business chamber president Jye Segboer said the findings weren't disheartening.
"The big thing is, until it happens and until we know what courses are on offer, it would be hard to make an assumption that figure would remain once there was a presence versus a hypothetical," Mr Segboer said.
While people would be drawn to certain universities for particular courses, he said once a campus was established, students would be able to better assess which options would be best in terms of study and costs, like accommodation.
"Until it becomes a reality, we can't place any credibility on a survey when we don't know what it means to have a university in town," he said.
The survey, conducted by CareerHQ in collaboration with a number of local schools' careers advisers, also found more than half of the current high school cohort were going to leave town after year 12 and about 89 per cent had little to no idea about local industry.
The chamber president wasn't concerned by the willingness among the younger generation to leave town.
"Most kids want to leave home, wherever they're from in regional Australia, to go out and explore something bigger than what they've grown up with," he said.
"I did it and many of my friends did too and now many have returned to Tamworth more experienced."
While the survey found the majority of students were planning on leaving Tamworth, only 16 per cent said they would not be interested in returning. The vast majority expressed some desire to return to Tamworth; 46 per cent said they'd come back and a further 38 per cent would consider it.