Investment in education and training is crucial to ensure Europeans have the skills they need to find their place in the job market and society as a whole. That is why education is one of the priorities under the Investment Plan for Europe. The European Commission launched this initiative in November 2014 to remove obstacles to investment, provide visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and make smarter use of new and existing financial resources.
The EU already supports national and regional authorities as well as education institutions and civil society organisations to boost investment in education and training. Money comes from different European funds, including Erasmus+, the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.
How can education and training benefit from the Investment Plan?
The Investment Plan for Europe offers an additional opportunity to bring fresh money to the education sector.
The backbone of the Plan is the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI offers private investors an EU guarantee on their investments in specific projects and therefore attracts them to finance projects that might otherwise not be viable.
The EFSI can be used to support projects through a wide range of different financial instruments, for example debt financing, guarantees and equity.
To bolster its impact, it is also possible to combine support from the EFSI with financing from other programmes such as the European Social Fund. The EFSI targets both long-term investment in infrastructure and specific financing solutions for SMEs.
Education and training has a clear potential to benefit from the Plan through both these channels.
How could the Investment Plan be used in practice?
- Upgrading educational Infrastructure:
Under EFSI, it is possible for public-private partnerships to develop projects for upgrading and modernising school and university infrastructure, thereby improving the learning environment for students and working conditions for teachers. This could include equipping schools with broadband access and ICT tools, or building high-tech campuses with high-end laboratories.
As EFSI can be used as a guarantee, students could benefit from loan programmes at excellent rates.
- Boosting the knowledge triangle:
EFSI can also be used to strengthen links and create synergies between education, business and research. Start-ups could benefit from more favourable financing to develop university-based research into marketable projects.
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