"Today, investing in new premises and facilities that will enable our students to fully realize their potential, we invest in our future economic growth. The agreement confirms that Juncker's plan can create jobs and promote growth, while at the same time contributing to more far-reaching goals such as continued competitiveness of Europe in the field of research and innovation. I am certain that the new premises will serve several generations of Latvian students, helping them to achieve excellence," said Dombrovskis.
The Rector of the University of Latvia, Professor Indriķis Muižnieks confirmed the necessity to create the UL Academic Centre, emphasizing that students will have the opportunity to study in a modern environment encompassing several branches of science. Furthermore, development of the Academic Centre will promote cooperation with entrepreneurs.
"Today, we are opening a new page both in the development of the University of Latvia and the universities of the Baltic states," said Muižnieks, as he signed a loan agreement stipulating 30 million euro funding of the EIB for the development of the UL Academic Centre on Thursday, July 20.
This is the first time in the Baltic States, when the EIB directly lends to a university, reaffirming its trust in the business model of that university without government guarantees, explained Rafal Rybacki, Head of EIB Public Sector Lending Operations Division in the Baltic States and Northern Europe. He emphasized that investing in innovation is the key priority of the EIB.
Rybacki is convinced that the Academic Centre will become a dynamic part of Riga city, where students from different faculties of the University of Latvia meet in a special atmosphere.
“Even if a university is the most prestigious in the world and it offers fantastic education, it needs to provide a modern environment, otherwise students will not feel comfortable there. This is a new world in which an attractive offer to students must be created to motivate their choice to study at this particular university," said Rybacki.
Inna Šteinbuka, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Latvia, pointed out – it is important that an investment project of this scale is launched in development of science, innovation, student well-being and education.
"The fact that we are the first in the Baltic states is a very good testimony to the fact that the University is proficient in mastering this money and subsequently repaying this loan," said Šteinbuka.
The loan is guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The project is an important part of the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker’s Plan”.
In 2015, the Nature House was opened at the UL Academic Centre. It houses the Faculties of Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Earth Sciences, as well as the laboratories of six national research centres.
Construction of the Science House at the Academic Centre has already started. This building will accommodate scientific institutes, sections of the Faculties of Medicine, as well as Physics and Mathematics. The total area of the building will be 20 000 m2, providing working space to more than 2000 students and 500 employees.
The Writing House will become a home to the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as scientific institutes specializing in this direction. The total planned area of the building is 32 000 m2, with a capacity to welcome 11 000 students and 1100 employees.
Implementation of the second phase of the Academic Centre construction projects requires 90 million euro. Planning, construction and equipment of buildings is planned to be implemented in the period up to 2021, attracting financing from the European Union structural funds, international public financial institutions, national budget and the University of Latvia revenues.
In 2016 and 2017, experts of the European Investment Bank and the Nordic Investment Bank carried out an assessment of the socio-economic benefits of the UL Academic Centre Development Programme and concluded that it complies with the provisions of the European Strategic Investment Programme. On July 3, 2011, the Senate of the University of Latvia decided to support the attraction of long-term credit resources of European public financial institutions.