A rural GPs and nurses organisation has welcomed Waikato University's plan to establish New Zealand's third medical school.
However, Auckland University has described the proposal as an "expensive folly".
The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network says the concept of training medical students from rural backgrounds in rural communities to work in those communities is " a huge shot in the arm" for the sector.
Chief executive Dalton Kelly says having more GP training places to fill a long-term shortage in the countryside is overdue.
"It seems prudent that we start training more doctors in New Zealand on a rural pathway as soon as possible," he said.
"This should have been done a decade ago."
However, Auckland University's Medical and Health Sciences dean, Professor John Fraser, called Waikato's proposal ill-considered and unwarranted.
"A new programme is simply not in the national interest and taxpayers will have to pay for what is an ill-considered and expensive folly," he said.
"The existing programmes at Auckland and Otago are already meeting the needs for growth of doctors for New Zealand."
The Waikato Medical School, which is backed by the Waikato District Health Board, would teach post-graduate students in 15 locations across the central North Island.
The course is over four years and the first intake is expected in 2020.