La Trobe University vice chancellor John Dewar has welcomed political support for a new medical school.
La Trobe and Charles Sturt University want to build medical training schools in three locations, including Bendigo.
The Nationals recently expressed support for the Murray Darling Medical School in its regional policy platform, with further support from the Liberal Party and ALP.
The Coalition has also announced a $1 billion fund to support regional areas.
While local candidates from the three parties have not said they will fund the project, Mr Dewar said the recent Coalition support was welcome.
“That they will support it is fantastic, but even better would be a commitment of resources,” he said.
“We’d need a commitment of the funds from the government before we could really start implementing this.” He said the three schools needed $40 million to build and recurrent funding to run.
“It’s a very cost effective way of solving a major problem for the Australian health workforce,” he said.
But the Australian Medical Students’ Association and others are concerned about a lack of clinical places, fearing the new school would saturate the industry.
Former Bendigo resident and final-year medical student Frayne Gomez said there was a “bottleneck effect” of too many graduates and not enough field placements.
“It’s nice to train people in regional areas, but you need to balance it to the point where they get good medical experience,” he said.
“I have to agree there are health problems in rural communities, problems our metropolitan counterparts don’t have.
“Increasing medical students is one piece of the pie. We need a holistic approach to health.
“Our health care system can’t afford more medical students.”
Mr Dewar said the first students would not graduate until 2021.
“Internships don’t become an issue until then,” he said.
“We’re confident the current issues around internships will be resolved.
“The current generation of medical students don’t need to be concerned about the emergence of new graduates in eight or nine years’ time.”