The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, has advanced a loan of 9.5 billion pesetas (ECU 58 million)(1), to the Comunidad Autónoma de Andalucía (the Andalusian regional authority) for funding construction, renovation and rehabilitation of a number of technical colleges and universities in Andalusia as well as the acquisition of equipment for these institutions. The works form part of Andalusia's development programme, which has assigned a fundamental role to higher education, especially technical colleges in view of their importance in training professionals for industry.

In Andalusia, an increasing percentage of secondary school students wish to continue into further education and, moreover, recent statistics confirm that those with qualifications from technical colleges have a better chance of finding work.

The project comprises construction work and provision of equipment at technical colleges and universities in Almería, Càdiz, Granada, Huelva, Málaga and Seville(2), in faculties which teach specialist subjects offering good employment prospects for future graduates. In some cases the links with industry are of particular significance, as with Málaga's Complejo de Tecnología and Seville's new E.T.S. de Ingenieros, both closely connected with the existing Technology Parks in these two cities. The project should provide an extra 20 800 student places in the institutions concerned.

The EIB was founded in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, for the purpose of fostering integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion in the Member States, by means of long-term financing for capital investment contributing to attainment of the European Union's objectives. On average, the EIB devotes more than two thirds of its annual financing to projects designed to correct regional imbalances.All of Andalusia counts as an "Objective 1" area for assistance under the European Union's Structural Funds, making development programmes implemented in this region eligible for EIB financing. Since Spain joined the EU in 1986, the EIB has made available 445 billion pesetas (ECU 3 071 million) for projects in Andalusia, which now ranks second among Spanish regions in terms of the volume of EIB funding.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 29 March 1997, when ECU 1 = ESP 165.605, GBP 0.71, IEP 0.74 , USD 1.16.7.

(2) The project includes construction of a Scientific-Technical Centre on the Almería University campus, rehabilitation of the former Hospital Mora for the Economics and Business Administration Faculty in Cádiz, construction of a Polytechnic Centre at the Fuente-Nueva Campus in Granada, as well as extension of the Economics and Business Administration Faculty and adaptation of the Hospital building for the Architecture Faculty in Granada, improvements to the Rodriguez Casado Chemical Engineering College in Huelva, extension of parking capacity at the Information Technology Complex at Málaga University, construction of a building for Hotel and Tourism Studies and the Engineering Faculty also at Málaga, construction of the Andalusian Biology Laboratory at the Dos Hermanas Centre (Seville), modifications to a building on the Isla de la Cartuja for the Engineering Faculty of the New University of Seville and extension of the Economics and Business Administration Faculty in Seville.