The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's project financing bank, is lending EUR 95 million to the Czech Republic for the expansion and modernisation of Masaryk University (MU) in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic and also the second largest centre of education in the country. The loan has a maturity of 25 years. 

The EIB loan helps finance the development of a new university campus on a site near an existing teaching hospital at the periphery of Brno, where MU's Faculty of Medicine and the Chemistry and Biology departments of the Faculty of Science will relocate. Part of the loan will also help upgrading existing university buildings and financing the acquisition of state-of-the-art teaching and research equipment.

The investments will allow to teach a growing number of students, expand the range of courses and research activities and increase the quality of education, thus bringing MU - the second largest university in the Czech Republic - closer to the best European Universities. The new campus has been designed to provide a functional and pleasant environment for teaching and research as well as an excellent integration with the surrounding community, and will have a positive impact on environment and urban regeneration. In addition, the upgrading of existing facilities will help preserve historical buildings and further the architectural heritage in the city centre.

Commenting on the loan, EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth said: 'In 1999 the European Investment Bank extended its financing of health and education projects to the Accession Countries. The Bank's early involvement with the project presented by Masaryk University was one of EIB's first experiences in the Accession Countries' human capital sector. This was in line with the objectives set by the Czech Republic's Higher Education Strategy which intends to raise the number of university students and increase quality of education and research, as well as the Bank's Innovation 2000 Initiative which aims at building a European economy based on knowledge and innovation in both the present and future Member States of the EU.' 

The loan to Masaryk University brings total EIB financing in the Czech Republic since 1993 close to EUR 3 billion. The largest projects financed so far were in particular the modernisation of the main railway lines; the extension and upgrading of the road and motorway networks; the expansion of the telecommunications network; the rehabilitation and extension of municipal infrastructure; the implementation of environment protection schemes; and the reconstruction of flood damaged infrastructure. A growing number of small and medium-scale industrial and tourism ventures, as well as some smaller municipal infrastructure and environmental schemes were financed through several global loans (credit lines) to local commercial banks.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent nearly 17 billion Euro for projects in the ten Central European Accession countries.