Plans to develop a university site in Barrow have taken a step forward.
The University of Cumbria has signed a partnership agreement with Lancaster University to support the project.
The universities will collaborate on research partnerships with local businesses and on courses offering the best subject strengths from both higher education institutions.
The University of Cumbria’s plans for a Barrow campus will see it work closely with key businesses, including BAE Systems, and Furness College, in order to ensure that courses prepare graduates for career success through higher level skills.
It will work closely with key partners in Barrow, including the Brilliant Barrow board and Barrow Borough Council.
The campus has had initial approval to progress to a full business case for funding through the Barrow Towns Deal, following approval of the strategic outline business case.
If successful, the funding will be available to start construction work on a new campus building in Barrow.
Building work is expected to be completed by 2024 and the campus will open that year.
The partnership will allow both universities to collaborate in research as well as teaching opportunities.
The University of Cumbria will extend its offer in areas such as project management, leadership, supply chain development, education and health.
Lancaster University will provide leading expertise in data science and cyber security.
The campus will enable local residents to go to university without leaving the area.
Barrow and South West Cumbria has fewer school leavers going on to university and fewer people with degrees than many parts of England.
The campus will also work in partnership to develop graduates for the workforce of the future.
Professor Julie Mennell, vice chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said: “Our partnership with the University of Lancaster to develop a campus in Barrow reflects our growing partnership and gives Barrow an enhanced higher education offer.
“The University of Cumbria is Cumbria’s local university and we have developed a portfolio of courses and research programmes that are tailored to Cumbria and the people who live and work here.
“Lancaster University is a good friend and partner that will bring outstanding strengths in teaching and research into the Barrow campus alongside us, so enhancing the quality of provision and opportunities for local people.”
Lancaster University vice chancellor Professor Andy Schofield said: “We’re delighted to support this initiative which is designed to help businesses to thrive and local people to access university courses on their doorstep.
“Lancaster University has a long and proud tradition of supporting local higher education developments in places like Blackpool and Blackburn so working with our colleagues at the University of Cumbria on this exciting project is a natural thing for us to do. We will do everything we can to try and make it a success.”
Local stakeholders also respond to the news:
Jo Lappin, chief executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership said “This is excellent news for Barrow, providing a new higher education facility that will ensure that Barrow and Cumbria’s young people have access to a high quality educational offer that develops the skills and competence needed by our economy and businesses.
“Historically, our 18 to 24-year-olds have been the group most likely to leave the county and this new facility will help make sure that our young people have the choice to stay here to finish their education and build their career.
“The University of Cumbria’s partnership with Lancaster University provides a perfect combination of research and teaching expertise.”
Sam Plum, chief executive of Barrow Borough Council, said: “This is an exciting step towards; the realisation of one of our long-held ambitions for Barrow; to increase lifelong opportunities for residents and young people and for businesses across the area to benefit from high calibre graduates with the skills they need to continue to thrive and evolve.
“The benefits of offering tailored higher education courses and programmes from a university campus right here in our borough will be felt widely for generations to come.”
Janet Garner, head of HR, skills and academy principal, BAE Systems Submarine said: “Universities play an essential role in the UK economy as well as the future prosperity of our town.
“This investment and collaboration between the partners will increase skills, support innovation, and attract investment and talent to the area.
“The Barrow Learning Quarter will have a transformational impact on our region and will help to provide some of the emerging specific skills required of our future workforce.”