The University of Cumbria is developing a new university presence in Barrow and has signed a partnership agreement with Lancaster University to support this transformational project. The two 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 bring further and local opportunities to study for a university degree to South West and West Cumbria, creating much improved access to Higher Education. The University of Cumbria will work closely with key businesses, including BAE Systems, and with Furness College, in order to ensure that courses prepare graduates for career success through higher level skills. The close relationship with employers will ensure that businesses are “at the heart of defining local skills needs'”, which is a central goal of the recently published White Paper Skills for Jobs.

The university will work closely with key partners in Barrow, including the Brilliant Barrow board and Barrow Borough Council in order to ensure the campus brings social as well as economic benefits to the town.

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 works on a new campus building in Barrow. Building works are expected to be completed by 2024 and the campus will open that year.

The partnership will allow both universities to collaborate in joint research as well as teaching opportunities that bring together the outstanding strengths of each university. 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 develop an HE presence in Barrow that 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. An HE campus in Barrow will create new opportunities to go to university within the area, opening up higher education opportunities for many residents.

The campus will also work in partnership to develop graduates for the workforce of the future. With BAE Systems and other key business partners, the campus partners will focus on courses that prepare students for successful careers in local companies.

The benefits to Barrow, its residents and businesses are expected to be profound. The partnership between the two universities will open up new opportunities locally for young people to study for a university degree in Barrow. It will also help businesses locally to recruit highly capable graduates, creating career opportunities and benefitting the recruiting companies.

The two universities are working closely on a series of collaborative projects and are seeking to further develop their partnership through the Barrow HE campus project.

Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said: “Our partnership with the University of Lancaster to develop an HE campus in Barrow reflects our growing partnership and gives Barrow an enhanced HE 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 18-24 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.”