COLLABORATION

Full steam ahead: New Carlisle campus to revitalise Borderlands region

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University of Cumbria and the University of Lancaster hope to turn Carlisle & the Borderlands region into a higher education and economic powerhouse.

The University of Cumbria has unveiled plans for a new higher education campus in Carlisle, working in partnership with the University of Lancaster to address productivity and skills in the Borderlands region.

The agreement will involve Lancaster University Management School having a presence at a new £80 million campus at the Citadels, where it will be focused on extending its highly successful business programmes into North Cumbria and the surrounding areas.

Together, the two universities aim to upskill workforces, increase higher education in the area and work with local employers to meet new skills demands in critical areas such as digital, professional services, and health and wellbeing. 

The institutions also intend to collaborate in other ways and will explore opportunities around widening participation with schools and colleges and on the apprenticeship agenda.

“We believe firmly in partnership working to deliver our and our region’s success and we look to collaborate with nationally and internationally-leading partners wherever possible to improve our offer and relevance to learners, employers and our region,” University of Cumbria Vice-Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell said in a media release.

“This new partnership with Lancaster will enable both universities to make a considerable impact on economic growth across Cumbria and the Borderlands region, in areas of health as well as business and we are extremely pleased to make this announcement.”

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The planned Carlisle university campus will be a project under the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, an initiative of the Borderlands Partnership proposed to the UK and Scottish governments last September and signed this July. 

The partnership brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth of the area that straddles the Scotland-England border.

With a commitment of over £394 million from the UK and Scottish governments, and local authority partners, the Growth Deal is expected to deliver over 5,500 job opportunities, attract more than four million additional tourists and unlock investments in towns across the Borderlands, boosting the region’s economy by £1.1 billion.

In the Heads of Terms for the Growth Deal, the University of Cumbria was identified as a potential partner in the Carlisle Station Gateway and Citadels project phases. In the latter phase, the historic Citadel will be turned into a focal point for higher education, business and cultural interaction.

The new university campus will be developed here, standing as a new economic hub right in the heart of Carlisle. Among others, it is hoped the facility will stimulate the local economy by driving business growth and creating employment opportunities to enable the regeneration of the city centre. 

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“Having a presence in Cumbria, where our experts can be near and actively support local SMEs, is geographically important to our success in stimulating economic growth – a key regional goal for Lancaster University. 

“Skills needed in the region have been identified as digital innovation and logistics where Lancaster has particular strengths,” said Lancaster University Interim Vice Chancellor Professor Steve Bradley.

He noted that both Lancaster and Cumbria already share a long working relationship, having collaborated successfully on several projects related to SME engagement.

“The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal recognises the importance of universities in raising the economic performance of places and I’m pleased to be working with the University of Cumbria on this exciting project which will strengthen their status as a higher education institution in Cumbria as well as contribute to the revitalisation of this historic part of Carlisle,” said Leader of Cumbria County Council Councillor Stewart Young.