VUB finances expansion with bonds
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has collected about 60 million euro through bond issues. As for now it is not yet known what the return of these bond issues will be. Most of the funds will be used for large real-estate projects. The issue, that was put on the market by Belfius, is intended to finance large-scale real -state projects of the Flemish university of Brussels. Among others the VUB aims to build over 600 extra rooms for its students, over 3500 square metres of classrooms and a new culture tower where a concert room and exhibition room will be situated.
According to Brussel Nieuws the whole project should be finished in the fall of 2018, but the student rooms are due to be finished next year. The VUB wants to get this bond listed on Euronext Brussels. A listed university-bond would be a scoop for our country.
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel has been creative before when it comes to looking for funds as they have received several gifts for its new swimming pool.
Various Flemish universities have been struggling when it comes to their own real estate management. The budget for patrimony of the universities has been going downhill for years. In 2013 it was calculated that the Flemish universities were in need of 123 million euro to preserve their patrimony. The government provided the universities with 22% of that budget, consequence being that they have to use their spare funds to support their real estate. The universities have been saving money throughout the years for real-estate and research projects.
The problem is only getting worse, because the number of students is increasing every year. In the seventies Campus Etterbeek was built to accompany 5500 students. Nowadays the VUB has 13000 students, while its infrastructure has barely expanded.
The amount of money which the Flemish universities receive for the education of their students decreases yearly. For other activities like research universities try to find funding from companies and Flemish and European research funds, but most of it cannot be used for educational purposes. Thanks to the fine research funds the total balance sheet and income statement looks positive.