>@Richard Willis/University of Latvia 2017
©Richard Willis/University of Latvia 2017

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has provided a loan of up to EUR 30m to the University of Latvia (UL) for the further development of its new campus (the “Academic Centre”), in particular for the construction of state-of-the-art research and study facilities. It is the first time the EIB has lent directly to a higher education institution in the Baltic States. The loan is being granted with the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), a crucial part of the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”.

EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, whose responsibilities include EFSI and education, said: “We are very proud to help the most prestigious university of Latvia to turn another page in its history. This modern campus will help bring more research and development activity to Latvia, which in the long run will benefit the employment of qualified labour and have an impact on the economic growth of the country as a whole. The modernisation of the university campus is the type of investment Europe needs to maintain its competitive position in a global context and to give a future to the younger generation.”

The Rector of the UL, Indriķis Muižnieks, emphasised: “The funding provided by the EIB confirms that the UL is a reliable partner. The development of higher education and science is not only our strategic long-term goal, but also a priority of European Union.”

Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis said: "Investing today in the facilities our students need to realise their full potential is an investment in our future economic growth. Today's agreement demonstrates that the Juncker Plan can deliver for jobs and growth whilst also contributing to wider objectives, such as ensuring that Europe maintains its competitiveness in research and innovation. I trust that these new facilities will serve generations of Latvian students and will help them to excel.”

The construction of a state-of-the-art research and study centre will give a boost to the modernisation of the university campus. It will enable it to bring together a large portion of its activity in one area, achieving efficiency gains not only for the university’s administration, but also for the teachers and students. The purpose of this investment is to foster a climate of teaching and research under optimal conditions. It should also help to increase enrolments, reduce dropouts and improve graduate outputs.

EIB financing is supporting a project of strategic importance for the higher education sector in Latvia and for the development of the UL: the second round of the Academic Centre development in Torņakalns, Riga.

In 2015, the new Academic Centre celebrated the opening of the Nature House, which houses the chemistry, geography and land sciences and biology faculties, and hosts the laboratories of six research centres of national importance.

The construction process for the Science House, which will bring together the institutes of science, part of the faculty of medicine, and the faculty of physics, is already under way in the Academic Centre. The total area of the building will be 20 000 m2, providing a workspace for up to 2 000 students and 500 employees.

The Writing House will accommodate humanities and social sciences faculties as well as science institutions specialised in these fields. The total area of the building is planned to be 32 000 m2, while up to 11 000 students and 1 100 employees will work there.

This second construction round for the development of the Academic Centre requires EUR 90m of financing. It is anticipated that the design and construction of the new buildings will be completed by 2021, with the help of funding from EU grants, the loan from the EIB and other international finance institutions, the state budget of Latvia as well as the UL's own resources.

On 3 July this year, the Senate of the UL decided to support the use of long-term credit resources from European public financial institutions to implement this project.