Euro loan for study

January 28, 2005

The European Investment Bank is investing in student maintenance schemes across Europe as part of a plan to improve economic competitiveness.

This week it was due to sign a deal with Hungary to lend €100 million (£70 million) to the country's student loan organisation as part of its Innovation 2010 initiative.

Last year, it lent Italy about €25 million to fund loans for students in higher education, and it is considering a plan to support student maintenance in Poland and lifelong learning in Germany.

Spokesman Paul Gerd Loser said: "The idea is to contribute to knowledge creation and dissemination of knowledge. We perceive that Europe needs more investment in its human capital. This starts with education and training, but also involves funding research and development. This should translate into innovation and then competitive products, making Europe competitive on world markets".

The EIB, the EU's largest financing institution, approved loans worth €46 billion in 2003.

In the Hungary deal, the money will be lent to its Ministry of Finance and funnelled through its student loan organisation over the next three years.

The EIB loan will fund a significant part of its €265 million budget over that period.

Mr Löser said the EIB was focusing financing efforts on Eastern Europe because of reforms under way in the region's higher education sector. As universities become more independent of the state, they rely increasingly on fees. This poses a problem for local students, who often cannot pay for their studies and maintenance.

The German scheme would involve channelling funds to older working students via the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau bank.

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