New England MP Barnaby Joyce is still confident of getting $10 million for a second University of New England campus, but won't make it an election commitment.
The University of New England (UNE) is planning to build a 500-person campus in the Tamworth CBD, and has already received $26.6 million from the state government. However, it needs federal funding before it becomes a reality.
Mr Joyce said he spoke to UNE representatives this week, to conveyed the conversations "I'm having on their behalf".
"Without being definitive, I get a strong sense that the Prime Minister Scott Morrison will help us with the $10 million, and put his shoulder to the wheel on our behalf," Mr Joyce told the Express.
Independent candidate Adam Blakester has made securing the $10 million for the campus a central of his policy platform.
"Our research validates it as an achievable goal we can take to Canberra and get an outcome on," Mr Blakester said.
Mr Joyce said he was facing some hesitation from the federal government, as it would already be committing $140m in Commonwealth funded university places.
"I've got to explain to the Treasurer why I'm asking for $10 million on top of $140 million," Mr Joyce said.
"The sensible thing to do would be for the state government do the building and leave us with the Commonwealth funded places, which to be frank is a vast more expensive commitment, which is ongoing.
"However, I am confident we will have a university here. It's a matter of when, not if."
Mr Blakester said the argument the state government should solely fund the campus "doesn't hold water".
"Sometimes they like to put a hard line in what is state and what is federal, but you don't have to dig very hard to find examples of funding going to different things," he said.
"Uni campuses have been given money by the federal government before."