UNE is set to start construction on the new Tamworth campus within 12 months, despite no Commonwealth commitment to the project.
Vice-Chancellor Brigid Heywood told the Leader the second campus project - which has been marred by a state-Commonwealth funding dispute - is charging ahead despite the public fight.
The university is preparing to triple the number of students studying through its new industry-led courses.
"The NSW government doesn't want to be seen as the only party coming to the table to see this initiative off the ground. My view is that's a political party to political party discussion," she said.
"This thing was going to be launched in 2022. We're in 2021 and we're already a long way down the pathway to success."
The state government has set aside $26.6 million for the project, but only on condition of a Commonwealth contribution of about $10 million. The federal government's May budget didn't include any money for the project.
She pointed to the Better Regions Fund scheme as an option for filling to gap.
"We see great opportunity in the budget. There's another $250 million for the Better Regions Fund," she said.
"We have been and will continue to lobby that one of the key drivers for innovation in the regions are in fact regional universities. And therefore what you might do is just change one of the policy instruments around supporting the Better Regions Fund so that we're an eligible party to receive funds from that."
But ultimately the university has no interest in waiting for the two governments, Professor Heywood said.
A class of 30 students are already studying the new industry-supported curriculum at university sites at Tamworth's Sports Dome and the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre.
A handful of students have even completed their study already, she said.
Professor Heywood revealed they intend to double that number studying through the business-connected plan to about 100 in 2022 and then "start building up quite aggressively from there".
"We're a year ahead of the original plan, so we weren't supposed to launch until 2022 but we're using the building up of facilities and the grounding of the relationships that are going to support this endeavor," she said.
It's the same year she believes construction will start on the new campus project. Master planning is already underway.
"Will there be a hole in the ground and a bulldozer or some other earth moving earth from here to here I would hope that that would be 12 months out but not much longer than that and if we can do it sooner, believe me we'll do it sooner," she said.
UNE has received the state government's funding deed, she said.
The university's Vice-Chancellor and CEO spent two days last week in Tamworth with the UNE council meeting with a number of Tamworth stakeholders.
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