University of Limerick to start expansion
European Investment Bank provides first part of €100m loan for construction work
Jonathan Taylor said the University of Limerick plan would be a “flagship example” of funding in higher education. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Construction work on a development plan for University of Limerick is expected to start before Christmas after it was confirmed yesterday that the European Investment Bank is to disperse the first round of payments in a €100 million loan.
The bank’s vice-president, Jonathan Taylor, said the University of Limerick plan would be a “flagship example” of funding in higher education.
The loan will fund almost half of the university’s €224 million capital development plan for 2014 –2018, which will involve the construction of 12 projects, including a clinical research building at University Hospital Limerick, and the development of a city centre campus with student residences and an academic building.
Some 1,000 jobs are expected to be created over the lifetime of the plan, with 290 full-time, high-value positions and 710 construction-related positions over the period of the plan.
Funding for the remainder of the plan will be secured from a number of sources, including philanthropic donors, State grants, commercial activities and University of Limerick funding, according to university president Prof Don Barry, who said half of the outstanding amount had already been raised.
The €100 million loan – one of the largest to any Irish university by the bank – was formally signed today by Prof Don Barry, president of the University of Limerick, and Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank vice-president responsible for Ireland.
Prof Barry said the plan would allow students to contribute to the economic revitalisation of Limerick city centre.
He said academics were “queuing up” to secure a prime location in the city centre for their departments.
“I have said on numerous occasions that my vision for the future in terms of the university and the city is that we would have hundreds of UL students learning, living and recreating in the city centre, and that is the clear ambition of the university,” he said.
Prof Barry added that a new student accommodation centre in the future would be shared with students from LIT and Mary Immaculate College.
Mr Noonan described the project as a very positive news for the university, and for Limerick and the wider region.
“The university capital investment plan will ensure the university is a world-class campus at the heart of Limerick and will create 1,000 jobs in Limerick.
“This is a great boost for the city and I look forward to work commencing in the new year,” Mr Noonan said.