PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday the French state would raise 35 billion euros ($51.33 billion) to fund strategic investments in the coming months, with the priority given to higher education and training.

Sarkozy told a news conference that a further 25 billion euros would come from the private sector to spend on an array of projects aimed at boosting France's economic competitiveness in the wake of the global slowdown.

The so-called big loan has been under discussion for months and the government has already put aside more than 10 billion euros for the programme, leaving an estimated 22 billion euros to be raised on the financial markets. (Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by James Mackenzie)