Executive Director of Government Communications, Mr Alex Aiken visited the University of Cumbria yesterday (Thursday 3 February) as part of a two-day visit to the county.
During his visit to the university’s Fusehill Street campus in Carlisle, he met with Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell to hear about some of the key partnerships and projects the university is involved in.
Discussions focused on The Carlisle Business Exchange initiative and the Centre for Digital Transformation, both part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal project to build a new university campus on the Carlisle Citadels site.
Professor Julie Mennell said: “We are delighted Alex Aiken came to visit our university enabling us to share with him our progress and our ambitions to build on our achievements to date.
“We are rooted firmly in the prosperity and success of Cumbria, the wider Borderlands region, and North West, with a strong emphasis on place and partnership.
“Since our inception in 2007, we have diversified our portfolio to meet the emerging needs of employers, students and our region.”
Professor Mennell added: “Informed by the development of our Local Enterprise Partnerships’ industrial strategies and Skills Plans, and our work with employers, as we move forwards towards 2030, providing vital upskilling/reskilling solutions remains a key priority for us.”
His visit to the Carlisle campus followed a round table discussion on the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal with Cumbria LEP, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the university and other business representatives. The round table discussion, held at Penrith, covered government investment in the Borderlands project across transport, digital connectivity, green energy and tourism.
The visit also provided an opportunity to showcase not just the Borderlands project but also the new campus development at Barrow, and how the university across all campuses focuses on providing training and opportunities for its local communities, how its graduates contribute to the local and wider economy, and how the university works with partners on a local and national level to address reskilling, sector and business needs.
Mr Aiken was given an overview of the key development partnerships the University of Cumbria is involved in such as:
- The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, working with Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (Cumbria LEP) and Lancaster University Management School, together with place-based FE collaborative partners, to establish a new campus in the centre of Carlisle, which will not only seek to address the higher-level skills needs of Cumbria and the Borderlands region, but will also be a catalyst for city centre growth and vibrancy.
- The Carlisle Business Exchange (CBE), to be housed on the Citadels campus. The CBE will include 800 sqm of hyper-fast digitally enabled business interaction space and will be located within the University of Cumbria’s flagship new campus development on the Citadels site in the centre of Carlisle. The CBE will encourage and maximise innovation and collaboration with the university (both staff and students) for external businesses located in or moving to the CBE. These will include start-up businesses, through to scale-up businesses and flexible "touch down" space for larger business.
- Barrow Learning Quarter, working with BAE, Barrow Town Council, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria LEP, Furness College and Lancaster University to address long term skills needs across digital, advanced manufacturing and professional services alongside increasing the HE offer and accessibility of HE in and from Barrow.
Following the meeting with Professor Mennell, Mr Aiken gave a presentation to a group of university students on the future of the Government Communication Service (GCS), GCS careers and what it takes to be a GCS communications professional in 2022. The group included students from business management, security intelligence and investigative practice, criminology and media students and Mr Aiken also discussed challenges for the GCS in the digital age.
Executive Director of Government Communications, Mr Alex Aiken said: “It was great to meet with the Vice Chancellor and members of her team at the University of Cumbria today.
“It was encouraging to learn about the university’s involvement in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and hear how the Citadels Business Infrastructure project will drive local and regional growth, develop skills and opportunities and contribute to the government's plan to level up in Cumbria.
“It was wonderful to speak to students about Government Communications, opportunities for careers and its important role in public service.”