The development and modernisation of the campuses of Aix-Marseille University (AMU) enabling it to become a centre of excellence on an international level is the objective of the loan contract signed on 25 April 2014 by AMU President Yvon Berland and Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Philippe de Fontaine Vive, in the presence of French Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir and Rector of the Aix-Marseille Academy Ali Saïb.

This contract paves the way for the EIB's first loan to a French university in the framework of the agreement concluded in February 2014 in Lille between the EIB and the French Government for financing "Operation Campus". Under this agreement, the EIB has devoted EUR 1.3bn to projects undertaken by 12 French universities including "Operation Campus - Aix-Marseille University", a large-scale financing operation in keeping with the reform of French universities, which was made possible by an amendment of the Finance Law allowing universities to borrow directly from the EIB.

The loan of up to EUR 127m granted by the EIB provides AMU with tangible support for the implementation of the renovation and modernisation work included in its "Operation Campus - Aix-Marseille University" development programme. Aix-Marseille University is one of the youngest universities in France with a firm international focus and the world's largest francophone university in terms of the number of its students, its staff, its fields of study and its budget. It is ranked 151st in the world according to the 2013 Shanghai university classification table. 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 "Operation Campus - Aix-Marseille University" programme was 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.

"This loan constitutes a first in France and I am happy to sign it in this region", said EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive. "As the first financing operation for a French university, it 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. 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."

The EIB loan to AMU demonstrates the commitment of the EU bank to the training and employment of young people, which has already resulted in increased support for the renovation and modernisation of lycées (upper secondary schools) and vocational training establishments. In 2013, for example, three new financing operations were signed for the refurbishment of 234 establishments in the Nord-Pas de Calais, Poitou-Charentes and Centre regions. This initiative will soon be extended to collèges. This loan continues the EIB’s unprecedented mobilisation of resources for growth and job-creating projects in France, for which the Bank dedicated EUR 7.8bn in 2013 (80% more than in 2012).