The University of Cumbria has been awarded £784,000 towards the second phase of its science laboratories at its Carlisle Fusehill Street campus.

The laboratories will be operational by September and support the university’s developments in STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths.

Overall, the university has invested £3.5m in the facilities to respond to a national shortage of graduates with science skills, support industry requiring skilled staff and create opportunities for young people to participate in STEM subjects.

It says there is a particular need for biosciences graduates in Cumbria with the development of the new GlaxoSmithKline biopharmaceutical facility at Ulverston and an increase in demand from Sellafield.

The laboratory extension will enhance the existing science curriculum offer, and allow the university to offer degree-level qualifications in chemistry and biomedical science, as well as providing high quality space for teaching, research and consultancy.

The facility will also allow greater collaboration with schools to encourage interest in STEM subjects.

Graham Haywood, director of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which has given the grant, said: "In the next 10 years, Cumbria will attract over £25bn of inward investment in sectors such as advance manufacturing, nuclear and biopharmaceuticals.

"This will create a huge local demand for science graduates, and people with science skills.

“The new courses the university will offer will help young people gain the qualifications they will need to access these jobs, and will provide businesses with a much-needed supply of skilled staff.

“The centre of learning the university will create will also provide a significant long-term boost to Cumbria’s economy.”

Planning consent has been approved and will provide a second floor to the existing facilities.

Work on the laboratory extension should start in May.

Professor Peter Strike, vice chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said: “The overall investment strengthens the university’s ambition to be the lead provider of science-related courses.

“The skills and knowledge students acquire from studying degrees in STEM subjects at the university, together with professional body accreditation, will enhance their employability prospects and create a wider pool of skilled graduates.”