A new Learning Quarter in Barrow that includes the building of a new university campus at its heart is among the shortlisted proposed projects that could help transform the town for future generations.
The creation and management of ‘University Campus Barrow’ will be led by University of Cumbria and will be a centrepiece to the new Barrow Learning Quarter.
Barrrow Learning Quarter is one of the seven schemes, selected following public feedback, that will now be further developed and form part of a bid for £25 million of funding from the government.
The seven were among an original 14 ideas, launched through the #BrilliantBarrow #MyTown initiative last month.
University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell said: “The Barrow Learning Quarter project seeks to build on the University of Cumbria’s existing collaboration with partners. BAE, which is focused on meeting long term high-level skills in advanced manufacturing, digital and leadership, working with Lancaster University’s ‘Security Lancaster’ and its Data Science Institute, and Furness College with a focus on developing routes into and through higher education across a range of discipline areas.
“Working with these partners, the Learning Quarter will provide inspirational space and opportunities for learning comprising a university centre, college skills academy and a multi-partner Institute of Technology. Working in this way, we will build progression routes and extend the wider higher education offer in Barrow. In doing so, we will support individuals, particularly from more disadvantaged backgrounds and areas, to access and benefit from higher education, and provide vital upskilling and reskilling provision to employers.”
Welcoming the decision to progress the proposal for a Barrow Learning Quarter, Furness College Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Wren said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to further transform education in Barrow and we urge everyone to back it. The Skills Hub development will be unique in Cumbria. It will complement the first-class facilities at Furness College’s Channelside campus, which offers technical and professional courses up to degree level. It will be an innovative addition to education across the area and ensure our students are ready to support the high level skills needs of our local businesses.”
In addition, education partners are developing a submission for an Institute of Technology which, if successful, will sit alongside the Hub offering outstanding progression opportunities for students in higher education.
Speaking about the Institute of Technology (IoT) proposal, which will also move forward immediately to the next stage, Director of Curriculum (Technical, Adult and Employer Learning) at Furness College Steve McAloone said: “We want our students to have a seamless progression from education into excellent careers with good prospects. Through the IoT we would focus on a digital specialism to support a range of growing sectors including advanced manufacturing, health, business and energy.”
Barrow is one of 101 towns selected to bid for £25 million in government cash as part of the Town Deal initiative and must make its case to the government soon.
A detailed business plan will now be developed around each one before the final bid is submitted to government this summer. These shortlisted projects will be the priority for the Town Deal over the next five years.
An investment plan will now also be developed for the town which will set out a vision for the next 10 to 15 years with a range of initiatives and projects including all those in the long list.
Steve Cole, Chief Infrastructure Officer at BAE Systems Submarine Solutions and chairman of the Town Deal Board which is spearheading Barrow’s bid for the funding, said: “We have taken an important step forward in the Town Deal process. Having listened to the feedback from members of the public we have agreed on a shortlist of projects which we will now further develop to see how they might form a part of our final submission to government.
"Your voices have been heard through the #BrilliantBarrow website and social media channels. Everyone's views were crucial in the shortlisting process – and I would like you all as residents and business owners of the town to once again help us shape our Town Deal plans.
"We will soon be sharing our further thoughts on the shortlisted projects and need as many people as possible to have their say. These are exciting times for Barrow as we plan for a very bright future."
Full details of each of the schemes can be found on the #BrilliantBarrow website brilliantbarrow.org.uk, along with details of how to have your say.