EIB, the EU's long term financial institution, is lending EUR 67 million for two projects to improve higher and post-primary education facilities in Ireland.

EUR 29 million are being provided for the design, building, financing and facilities management of the new National Maritime College at Ringaskiddy, Cork. The College has the specific vocation to raise non-military skill levels across the maritime industries and will reinforce Ireland's position as a centre of excellence in maritime and naval training.

With a capacity for up to 750 students, the College facilities will provide training to Irish and overseas seafarers according to international regulatory standards (IMO STCW'95). The project has also been designed to provide social benefits to a wider local and professional community by offering after-hours use of the facilities.

The EIB loan was signed with FocusEducation (NMC) Limited, a special-purpose company jointly owned by Bovis Lend Lease and Halifax Bank of Scotland. The Department of Education and Science and Cork Institute of Technology, promoters of the project, awarded the 26.5 year concession contract following an international call for tenders. Provision and maintenance of simulator services and marine education equipment are additional to the construction and services normally foreseen under Public-Private Partnerships in the education sector.

EUR 38 million are also being provided by EIB as part of the funding for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of post primary schools in Ballincollig, Dunmanway, Shannon, Tubbercurry and Clones. Present facilities were among those identified by the promoter, the Department of Education and Science, as being in most urgent need of adaptation to the needs of the modern curriculum.

The concessionnaire and beneficiary of this second EIB loan s Schools Public/Private Partnership (Ireland) Limited, a special-purpose company owned by Barclays Infrastructure Limited and Jarvis plc. The company was awarded the 26-year concession by the Department of Education and Science following an international call for tenders.

Both of the above projects are being implemented by Public Private Partnerships, designed to bring private sector skills and disciplines to the delivery and management of public sector services with a view to improving efficiency and reducing costs. EIB gives high priority to PPPs and has already been closely involved in a number of such educational investment schemes in the U.K..

At the launch of the National Maritime College project in Dublin today, EIB Vice-President, Michael G. Tutty, said: "I am very pleased that the EIB is involved in the financing of these two educational projects, the first PPPs in Ireland. EIB is helping to keep down the cost to the public finances through its financing terms, and our extensive experience in PPPs throughout the EU is also being used to help the Irish authorities with the development of PPPs in Ireland. I look forward to EIB participation in future PPPs as well".

The EIB (European Investment Bank) is owned by the EU Member States. Set up in 1958, its mission is to contribute to the EU's policy objectives by financing sound investment. Though a not-for-profit organisation, it is self-financing, raising its funds by borrowing on capital markets.

EIB's key operational objectives are to finance: regional development and economic and social cohesion of the EU, including integration of Candidate countries; knowledge and R&D intensive industries; environmental protection and improvement; improved international competitiveness of industry; SMEs; trans-European networks in transport, telecom and energy; human capital: education and health. EIB also supports the EU's development and co-operation policies in Partner Countries outside the EU by providing finance under mandate.