Investment in education and training is crucial to ensure people have the right skills and competences to find their place in society and in the job market. That is why it 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 supports national and regional authorities, institutions and civil society organisations to boost investment in education and training. Money comes from different European programmes and funds, including Erasmus+, the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. The Investment Plan offers an additional opportunity to bring fresh money to the education and training sectors.
How can education and training benefit from the Investment Plan?
The backbone of the Investment Plan is the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI). The EFSI offers private investors an EU guarantee on their investments in specific projects to facilitate the financing of projects that might otherwise not be viable.
The original goal was to trigger EUR 315 billion in additional investments over three years. The initiative was extended in late 2017 (EFSI 2.0) and now aims to mobilise EUR 500 billion by 2020.
The EFSI can be used to support projects through a wide range of financial instruments: debt financing, guarantees and equity. As it targets both long-term investment in infrastructure and specific financing solutions for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), education and training have a clear potential to benefit from both these channels.
To bolster its impact, it is also possible to combine support from the EFSI with financing from other EU funding sources such as the European Social Fund.
Moreover, education projects can benefit from the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP), the EU platform which helps investors and project promoters to get in touch, and the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH), which provides tailored advisory support to project promoters to improve the quality of their investment projects and enhance their ability to access adequate sources of financing.
How can the Investment Plan be used in practice?
Upgrading educational Infrastructure
Under the 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 includes for example equipping schools with broadband access and ICT tools, or building high-tech campuses with high-end laboratories.
As the EFSI can be used as a guarantee, students can potentially benefit from loan programmes at excellent rates.
Boosting the knowledge triangle
The EFSI can also be used to strengthen links and create synergies between education/training, business and research. Start-ups could benefit from more favourable financing to develop university-based research into marketable projects.
More information is available in the Education and the Investment Plan for Europe Factsheet.