A SURVEY which revealed only one-quarter of current high school students would enrol in a Tamworth-based university "justifies the development", according to advocates.
Mitchel Hanlon, who has been working with the reference group driving the push for a Tamworth university, wasn't surprised by the number of children who wanted to leave town and not attend uni close to home.
The figures came from a survey of more than 1400 current high school students to gauge professional and educational aspirations.
According to the survey, 52 per cent of students said they would leave town once they finished their schooling and only 25 per cent would be interested in a Tamworth tertiary education.
"That aligns with the initial numbers we've planned for the uni, that's not inconsistent," Mr Hanlon said.
"The numbers are okay to justify the development of the project."
He believed the survey figures would not hinder the city's chance of securing funding to establish a campus in the city in the near future.
He also hit out at negative comments on social media discrediting the campaign as well as the need for a university in the city.
"There is still a need to have something in Tamworth because there are those kids who need face-to-face teaching and those kids who can't afford to leave and fund themselves in a different town," he said.
"It comes down to educational equity."
Measured against other regional areas in NSW, Mr Hanlon said Tamworth's educational attainment levels were "the worst".
"Some of our problems are that people that even know they're behind, they only see what's around them, they don't look outside the town," he said.
"There's a sort of pride in ignorance type thing."
He said there were two prevailing attitudes among the naysayers.
"There is the drawbridge theme: 'I've got university degree, I did it the hard way, so everyone else has to do it that way'," he said.
"The other is: 'we are well set up in Tamworth we're getting good money, we've had our fair share, so we don't need more'.
"But that it is skewed towards infrastructure and not towards social outcomes, because people understand infrastructure."
While the survey highlighted the lack of knowledge on local industry among students and a divide between the jobs on offer and the type of work kids want to get into, business and community leaders have not been disheartened by the findings.
Business chamber president Jye Segboer said the figures would change once there was a university presence in town.
The survey was conducted by CareerHQ in collaboration with local careers advisers.