The vision of harnessing the power of education to transform lives in a recognised higher education (HE) ‘cold spot’ has taken a major step forward.
Members of Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee have agreed to support the principle of a multi-million pound higher education campus in the town, proposals driven by the University of Cumbria as part of the #BrilliantBarrow Town Deal.
The University of Cumbria and its design partners will continue their ongoing endeavours, working closely with planning officers, to resolve the remaining concerns relating to drainage, car parking and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists to the campus site so the proposals can progress.
University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell added: “Planning permission is a key milestone towards realising our ambition to develop a new university campus in Barrow.
“Some issues remain but we continue to work collaboratively with others and seek to resolve them so our shared ambitions of enhancing local education opportunities progress.
“The campus and wider Barrow Learning Quarter will be transformational, to the learners who will access and aspire towards HE and, also, contribute to the area’s future prosperity and growth.
“Innovative, inclusive and inspirational facilities and provision will enhance vitality and vibrancy.
“The new campus will also increase the accessibility, reach and impact of our academic offer.
“It will offer new progression opportunities into and participation in higher education for young people and others, driving our mission to transform the lives and livelihoods of our communities and beyond.”
Designed by DAY Architectural Ltd, the university has developed the campus project in collaboration with BAE Systems.
Helping to address sector and regional skills needs, among the first courses being developed to offer learners include university-level programmes in Advanced Manufacturing, Computing (Digital and Cyber Security), Business Management, Project Management, and Supply Chain and Logistics.
The university campus is to be sited beside BAE Systems’ Submarine Academy of Skill and Knowledge.
It is being funded by a significant grant from the Government’s #BrilliantBarrow Town Deal initiative and capital investment from the University of Cumbria.
It forms part of the transformative Barrow Learning Quarter (BLQ) – one of seven #BrilliantBarrow projects – which also includes a new Skills Hub at Furness College’s Rating Lane site.
Partners of the University of Cumbria also include Barrow Borough Council, BAE Systems, local businesses and stakeholders. The BLQ scheme is recognised as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the educational landscape of the area.
A national hub for advanced engineering, energy and related sectors with high demand from local employers for graduate level employees, Barrow is recognised as a HE ‘cold spot’ with low levels of participation below the national average, despite secondary school leavers comparing well with their peers at GCSE.
The University of Cumbria is working with employers and academic partners to co-create course programmes in areas to support long-term higher skills need, upskilling and reskilling the workforce now and for the future.
The university will base a new academic area – its Institute of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering and Computing, led by a director and two professors – in Barrow.
Initially offering university-level programmes in these areas, plans are to develop other provision to support wider region skills needs.
It is expected that the main construction work on the university campus will begin next year, with completion forecasted for summer 2024.