study in Portugal
Portugal has long been most well known as a sun tourist hot spot. And although this is true, Portugal has far more to offer than wonderful beaches and great climate. Portugal is a country with a rich culture and a fascinating history, dating back to the 13th century. In the middle Ages, Portugal was a great power largely responsible for opening up the Americas for the rest of the world. Today, the country of Portugal is an up and coming member of the European Union, willing to prove its capabilities in more than just tourism. Higher education just happens to be one of them.
Portugal in short facts and figures
Official language: Portuguese
Government: Unitary parliamentary, constitutional republic
Area: 35,603 square miles/ 92,212 square kilometers
Population: 10.7 million
Calling code: +351
Education plays an important part in Portuguese history. The University of Coimbra, founded in 1290, was one of Europe’s first universities. Following this, education in Portugal was reserved for only the most privileged Portuguese for a long period. Due to this elitist system, Portugal has long had a struggling education system, and previously had among the lowest rates of education in Europe. However, since the 1960’s, this trend has changed and a much larger percentage of the Portuguese population are earning not just secondary school diplomas, but also higher education degrees.
Since 2000, Portugal has worked in accordance with the Bologna convention to increase international recognition for Portuguese degrees, and also to facilitate movement of students on an international basis. More and more international students choose Portugal as their study abroad destination, although due to the main language of instruction being Portuguese, most are still originating from other Portuguese speaking countries such as Brazil, Mozambique and Angola.
Portuguese Higher Education System
The description of the Portuguese Higher Education System, officially provided by NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centres) is the follow:
The Framework Law on the Education System (Law nr. 46/86, dated 14 October 1986, further amended by Laws nr.115/97, dated 19 September and nr. 49/2005, dated 30 August) establishes the general legal framework of the Education System. According to this Law, the educational system comprises three levels: basic, secondary and higher education.
Basic Education is universal, compulsory and free and comprises three cycles, the first cycle lasts for four years, the second lasts for two years and the third lasts for three years. Pre-school education is optional and is for children between the ages of 3 and the age of entering basic education.
Secondary education is not compulsory and it comprises a 3 - year cycle (corresponding to 10th, 11th and 12th year of schooling).
Higher Education Struture
Higher Education includes university and polytechnic education.
University education is offered by public, private and cooperative university institutions and polytechnic education is offered by public, private and cooperative non-university institutions.
Private higher education institutions must be subject to the previous recognition of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
Both university and polytechnic institutions confer the degree of licenciado (bachelor). In polytechnic education, the cycle of studies that leads to the degree of licenciado has 180 credits and a normal length of six curricular semesters of students’ work. In certain cases namely those covered by internal legislation or by European legislation, the cycle of studies can have up to 240 credits with a normal length of up to seven or eight curricular semesters of students’ work.
In university education, the cycle of studies that leads to the degree of licenciado has from 180 to 240 credits and a normal length between six to eight curricular semesters of students’ work.
In the 1st cycle of studies, the degree of licenciado is conferred to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the study programme of the licenciatura course, have obtained the established number of credits.
Both university and polytechnic institutions confer the degree of mestre (master).The cycle of studies that leads to the degree of mestre has from 90 to 120 credits and a normal length of between three to four curricular semesters of students’ work. In polytechnic education, the cycle of studies that leads to the mestre degree must ensure predominantly that the student acquires a professional specialization. In university education, the cycle of studies that leads to the mestre degree must ensure that the student acquires an academic specialization resorting to research, innovation or expansion of professional competences. In university education, the mestre degree may also be conferred after an integrated cycle of studies, with 300 to 360 credits and a normal length of 10 to 12 curricular semesters of students’ work, in cases for which the access to the practice of a certain professional activity depends on that length of time established by legal EU standards or resulting from a stable practice consolidated in the European Union.
In this cycle of studies the degree of licenciado is conferred to those who have obtained 180 credits corresponding to the first six semesters of work.
The degree of mestre is conferred to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the study programme of the mestrado course, have obtained the established number of credits, as well as successfully defended in public their dissertation, their project work or their traineeship report.
The Doctor (doctor) degree is only conferred by university institutions. The degree of Doutor is conferred to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the study programmer of the Doutoramento (doctorate) course have successfully defended their thesis in the public act.
Legal Requirements for Studying in Portugal
Students from EU countries and from European Economic Area/EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland do not need a visa to enter Portugal, which is a signatory of the 1995 Schengen Agreement. In order to obtain a residence permit, the Erasmus/International Relations Office at your School will provide you with a statement to deliver to the Aliens and Border Department (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Frontiers).
These students have the right to live in the national territory for a period up to 3 months without other conditions and/or formalities beyond having a valid identity card or passport. However, if their stay is longer than 3 months, they must formalize their right of residence (Certificate of Register) within 30 days after the three-month stay in the country at the Town Hall of their residence area.
Students from non-EU countries must obtain a residence study visa before departure from their home country. They can request their visa at the nearest Portuguese Embassy or Consulate. Please consider that a 'tourist' visa will not be accepted.
It is important to highlight that foreign students entering Portugal through a non-controlled border (whose passports are not stamped in Portugal) need to contact the Foreigners’ Services (SEF), within 3 days of their arrival, in order to report their entrance in the country. After this three-day-period, they will be charged a fine.
Furthermore, upon arrival these students should request a residence permit at the SEF. The usual documents to apply for this temporary residence permit are:
- copy of Passport and original;
- declaration of enrolment from Universidade ;
- Proof of financial support;
- Accommodation conditions certification;
- Health insurance;
- Copy of tax number (NIF);
Nevertheless, this information should be countercheck directly with SEF.
You will not require any vaccinations to visit Portugal unless you come from an infected area.
EU citizens must bring their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which guarantees medical cover from the Portuguese National Health Service. You must have personal liability insurance covering injuries and damage to property.