Irish universities get €170m from EU investment bank
Irish universities have benefited from EU funding to the tune of €170m in the past week, thanks to two major loans agreed with the European Investment Bank.
University College Cork (UCC) is to receive €100m from the European bank towards the development of new student accommodation, a new dental school, a science and innovation park, as well a substantial upgrade of the college's ICT facilities.
Trinity College is to receive €70m over the next two years, which will enhance teaching, research, and student accommodation at Ireland's leading university.
The €70m loan will go towards the completion of Trinity's new Business School and the development of further student accommodation at Oisín House.
There will also be funds allocated for a new premises for Trinity's Institute of Population Health in Tallaght. The 30-year loan will be used alongside other forms of financing, including philanthropic donations.
"We are investing in educational and research facilities for the benefit of all our students and staff," said Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity College Dublin.
"This week Trinity joined the League of European Research Universities, Europe's leading network of research intensive universities whose main focus is to build on the research and educational strengths of all its partners.
"Due to the current lack of funding of higher education in Ireland, the financing European Investment Bank (EIB) has provided to Trinity has been crucial in our maintaining current and future standards."
The new student accommodation will cater for 250 students. It will also include a new student health service, disability service and sports facilities.
This is the second EIB loan received by Trinity. In 2008 it received a €75m loan for research investment at the University's Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. It was the first university in Ireland to receive an EIB loan.
"University campuses will be greatly enhanced and improved thanks to EIB support. The university sector and education sector in general is benefiting greatly from EIB's support.
"This week's announcement comes ahead of the opening of the EIB's first permanent representation in Ireland next month, which will be another important step in strengthening activity in Ireland," said Minister for Education Richard Bruton.
The European Investment Bank was set up to support projects that make significant contributions to growth and employment in Europe.
The EIB has already provided €200m to Ireland this year in funding earmarked to improve the conditions of the country's primary and secondary schools.
A proposal to redevelop Limerick city centre is under consideration by the EIB, with local officials hoping that the bank will provide significant funding towards a €1bn redevelopment.
The support for strategic investments in Ireland has been replicated across the Europe,with combined funds of almost €1bn provided for programmes in Poland and Italy provided in recent weeks.
Italy will receive in excess of €500m in an initiative to boost the country's schools, while €300m has been allocated to Poland to further improve infrastructure.