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The University of Ulster has secured a £150 million loan from the European Investment Bank that will support key campus development works.

The announcement was made at Ulster’s Belfast campus by Professor Richard Barnett, Vice Chancellor of the University, Jonathan Taylor, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry MLA.

The main project to benefit will be the University’s landmark Belfast City campus development, a £250 million project that will relocate most of the Jordanstown campus to Belfast City Centre by 2018. Ulster is also investing a further £55m in upgrades at its Magee, Coleraine and Jordanstown campuses.

Professor Barnett said: “This commitment from the European Investment Bank is a major vote of confidence in the University, in our ambitious development plans and in the future of Northern Ireland.

“As a University that is leading in widening access to higher education, it is important that our students enjoy facilities that match their aspirations. These investments in our campuses will build on our existing strengths, providing a world class learning environment for our students and an excellent working environment for our staff.

“The benefit to higher education combined with the wider positive impact on the economy, will ensure the university’s investment leaves a lasting legacy for future generations. The Belfast City campus development alone will create more than 5000 construction and related jobs during the build and fit out period, providing much needed employment and salaries into local communities.”

Jonathan Taylor said: “Investment in education is essential to ensure Europe’s competitiveness in the global arena and enable future generations of students to innovate and benefit from new opportunities.

“The clear vision of the University of Ulster’s scheme will help deliver both educational and economic benefits across Northern Ireland both during construction and in the years to come. We are committed to supporting similar quality investment in key infrastructure in Northern Ireland in the future.”

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry MLA welcomed the European Investment Bank’s £150million financing for the University of Ulster’s new Belfast campus.

Speaking at the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus, Finance Minister Simon Hamilton welcomed the European Investment Bank’s role in financing the project and said: “I am absolutely delighted that the European Investment Bank has agreed to back the University of Ulster’s ambitious new campus in Belfast.  This vote of confidence in Northern Ireland by the EIB follows the Executive’s existing commitment to the scheme and will ensure that the economic, educational and regeneration benefits of the project are realised.

“The importance of investing in infrastructure cannot be understated.   I am committed to exhausting all options to encourage even more investment in our infrastructure.  And that includes building on this investment by the European Investment Bank in other areas of Northern Ireland’s infrastructure. I will personally follow up the possibilities of further EIB investment in Northern Ireland in talks with bank officials in Luxembourg in the middle of next month.  I am particularly interested in examining the possibilities presented by our reformed local government structures to play a leading role in future infrastructure development.

“I am determined to see Northern Ireland’s infrastructure continually invested in and improved and I will ensure that all available avenues for accessing the necessary finance – including the European Investment Bank – are explored fully and exploited where possible for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry MLA said: “I welcome the loan from the European Investment Bank. It is a clear indication of the confidence in our higher education sector. It is encouraging to know that the £16 million funding which my Department provided in 2010 has helped bring the development to this stage. I look forward to the new campus opening in 2018 and the benefits that it will bring to the University’s students and staff, the City of Belfast and the wider Northern Ireland economy.

“Higher Education is key to the future economic well-being of Northern Ireland and I urge my Executive colleagues to do all in their power to facilitate similar investments by the Bank in our Higher Education Institutions.”