UCLan skills agenda to play key role in successful Cumbrian devolution

28 November 2019

UCLan Vice-Chancellor opens Northern Powerhouse Partnership event at Westlakes campus

The case for Cumbrian devolution was the subject debated by business and community leaders at a Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) event, hosted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) at its Westlakes Campus, Whitehaven.

The event, which took place on Wednesday 27 November, saw UCLan’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin open proceedings by welcoming guests to the campus and explaining how UCLan is already playing a major role in the future development of West Cumbria’s skills agenda.

“UCLan has a long history of working in partnership with employers to understand their skills needs and develop bespoke educational programmes,” he explained.

“As the largest provider of degree apprenticeships within the North West our mission is to create the work-ready graduates required to boost the economy at a regional and national level.

“For example, here at our Westlakes Campus we are playing a major role in helping to produce the next generation of West Cumbria’s clinical workforce by training and developing leading-edge doctors, medical students and physician associates.”

Echoing Professor Baldwin’s sentiments, Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse, added: “I believe Cumbria has huge economic potential because of its economic assets in nuclear, wider energy and advanced manufacturing, including defence and much wider strength in small and medium sized enterprises”, he said.

Henri went on to argue that devolution is a pre-requisite for unlocking the full potential of the county – and more than just an election issue.

He continued: “Clearly it will be down to local leaders to determine at what geography a devolved model would work in Cumbria and what powers should be requested. As a starting point, two key priorities to unlocking the potential of the Northern Powerhouse are transport and skills. A clear ask for further responsibility over these two policy areas in Cumbria, building on the Borderlands Growth Deal, ambition to work more closely with neighbours to the south of the county and West Cumbria, would provide solid foundations for a considered proposal to central government - it should also make clear what could be achieved in return for the granting of such powers and appropriate funding.”

Located on the Westlakes Science and Technology Park in West Cumbria, UCLan’s Westlakes Campus offers innovative and vocational courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level that meet the needs of the local community whilst maintaining national and international appeal. A combination of academic learning and practical experience ensure UCLan Westlakes graduates are well prepared for the working world.

The campus is also a focal point for research excellence and through its work with partners, including the Samuel Lindow Foundation, its stated ambition is to improve the economic, social and cultural standing of the West Cumbria area.


Rachel Tang from Keswick was one of the first UK students to be enrolled onto UCLan’s MBBS (Bachelor Medicine Bachelor Surgery).  Rachel, who hopes to bring her skills back to Cumbria once she qualifies as a doctor, is one of the two students on a fully-funded UCLan scholarship programme aimed at people residing in the Cumbria and East Lancashire regions. She is pictured with Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse (far left) and UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin (centre).