STUDENTS at Tamworth university will be some of the most sought-after in the country as the University of New England (UNE) ranks third for graduate employment.
The top-tier spot is hoped to keep more students in regional areas with an employment rate of 80.9 per cent, far above the national average of 68.9 per cent.
Vice-Chancellor Brigid Heywood said she was incredibly proud of the achievements of staff and students in what has been an "extraordinary difficult time".
"It's in our DNA," she said.
"We work very closely to engage with employers all the way through the design of our courses and in creating opportunities for students to get work experience."
UNE fell just behind Charles Sturt University and Central Queensland University.
Environmental science graduate Harry Mills is a testament to the data, he now works at Tamworth's Hanlons Consulting.
"I think some of my experience and the units they offer was definitely attractive to Hanlons," he said.
"We had a much closer access to rural industries like agriculture and the environmental sector and things like that being in the country.
"Those conversations start a lot earlier, you have an opportunity to see what's going on in the real world."
Construction on Tamworth's new $60 million campus is expected to start within the next 12 months, with both the state and federal governments on board.
With hub-and-spoke classes already available in Tamworth and a physical campus on the horizon, Tamworth University Reference Group chair Mitch Hanlon said students can expect to be employed.
"UNE comes with a solid reputation of being desired by employers for regional and rural businesses," he said.
"Knowing that they go to a university that understands regional businesses, I think is a bonus."
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the rank highlights the top-class educational opportunities in the region.
"Graduates are then more likely to stay within our community and continue to deliver positive outcomes for the economy and society," he said.
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