Project Campus takes off in France
The Bank has signed its first higher education loan in France. At Aix-Marseille University, the EIB is helping to accelerate modernisation and renovation works, while making the best use of available funds for improved education infrastructures that help young people succeed.
A EUR 1.3bn plan to finance 12 scientific and university campuses in France is set to speed up important education investments, including the construction of new campuses. These campuses were selected by an international jury following a competition. The aim is to encourage the development of international centres of academic and scientific excellence that are able to attract and train students from France and all over the world.
For the Bank this is a first in terms of partnership with French higher education institutions. Due to their recent change in status, they can now work with the EIB to help finance their investments. Until recently the state would look after the country’s 85 faculties, Grandes Écoles and other higher education institutions in order to save students from paying high tuition fees. The new changes enable the universities to become more autonomous, from a budgetary perspective, but also more flexible in terms of being able to adapt their curricula to the needs of the jobs market.
Supporting smart investmentsUltra-modern campuses, cutting-edge research, streamlined curricula including virtual courses online and encouraging exchanges between universities and businesses around the world – this is what’s on the menu for this innovative programme. Campuses at Aix-Marseille, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Paris (intra-muros, Condorcet and Marne-La-Vallée), Saclay, Strasbourg and Toulouse, as well as Lorraine and Lille will be able to benefit from the new scheme.
The funding for this ambitious project comes from a novel set-up involving a trust fund, which is financed by the proceeds of the sale of 3% of the capital of Électricité de France (EDF), and a close partnership between the EIB and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC). The two long-term financiers will enable the universities in France that are part of the so-called Operation Campus to tap the funds needed to transform their higher education institutions into international centres of academic excellence. The investments will all take the form of public-private partnerships (PPPs), thus attracting private capital and giving them the freedom to adapt their projects better to market needs. Among the first to benefit from this partnership is Aix-Marseille University (AMU).
Rethinking education investments“As the first loan for a French university, this operation reflects our firm commitment to young people. It is our goal to give universities the means to develop and modernise in order to attract and nurture the top talent and thus enhance their competitiveness on a European and global level,” said EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive. “In this way, we have opted to provide the students of today and tomorrow with the best opportunities for training, employment and ultimately professional success. We are setting the stage for their future,” he emphasises.
In April, AMU signed up for a EUR 127m loan to support renovation and modernisation work. Aix-Marseille is one of the youngest universities in France, with a firm international focus, and the world’s largest francophone university. Some 72 000 students will benefit from this project on the different AMU campuses, in particular the 30 000 students on the Aix Faculties District campus. The programme is designed to provide AMU with modern, robust, structured, high-profile, scientifically consistent and renovated sites to international standards in order to help as many students as possible to meet the challenge of higher education and enhance their employability in a context of international competition.