Academic staff entered Waikato University's $55 million Tauranga campus for the first time today - almost a year ahead of schedule.
A dawn karakia attended by about 100 people opened the way for staff to move in.
Senior deputy vice-chancellor professor Alister Jones said the early opening was a major accomplishment for the contractors involved and Tauranga City Council. It would give the university an extra year in its purpose-built, central city facilities.
Prof Jones said by the start of this week 950 people had enrolled to study at the University of Waikato in Tauranga this year, including 40 PhD students. Enrolments were up about 250 on the same time last year.
The campus was expected to reach full capacity of about 1800 students or 1500 full-time equivalents within five years.
Degree-level courses offered at the campus included education, social science and business. The university had offered courses in Tauranga for 20 years but had always needed to borrow facilities owned by other institutions.
Prof Jones said the university was proud to have partnered with local entities to bring New Zealand's fifth-largest city a "world-class university".
"There's been a very strong call from the community. Most cities or regions of that size would have a university presence."
Tauranga City Council provided the land for the development, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust pledged $15 million each, and the university funded the remaining $25 million.
In response to Tauranga's housing shortage, the university sourced 55 beds for student accommodation.
Prof Jones said there were still some beds available.