With a history of higher education spanning several centuries, Portugal has a wealth of experience in providing high quality degree programmes. Partner that with the welcoming culture of the Portuguese people and the country becomes the perfect place for an international student to pursue a degree.
Adopting the Bologna Process, Portugal has worked hard to ensure that their higher education is of a high standard. You will find both public and private higher education institutions. These tend to be split into two types; universities and polytechnics. Universities are research focused and offer degrees such as medicine, natural sciences and law. Polytechnics provide vocational training for professions, such as nursing, accounting and teaching. Both types of institution offer three awards; Licenciado (bachelors), Mestre (masters) and Doutor (doctorate).
Entry into Portuguese universities can be competitive, with all applicants having to sit an entrance exam. You will find 4 of Portugal’s universities in the 2023 QS World University rankings top 500, with the University of Porto ranked the highest at 274th place. The oldest university in Portugal is the University of Coimbra, and is ranked at =438th place.
The location of Portugal, as well as the successful higher education system, has made the country an attractive destination for students looking for an interesting and vibrant experience.
Located in mainland Europe and on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is one of the oldest states in Europe. Portugal established the first global empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. This made them one of the world’s major economic, military and political powers. In 1910, a revolution deposed the monarchy, meaning that Portugal became a democratic state. Portugal’s exploration has left elements of their culture all over the world.
Portugal is a member of the European Union and the United Nations, and was a founding member of NATO, the Eurozone and the OECD. It is a well developed country, with a high-income advanced economy and high living standards. It is renowned for being peaceful and stable, ranking highly in terms of democracy, social progress, moral freedom and prosperity, as well as many other desirable factors.
Portugal uses the Euro (€) as its currency.
Institutions in Portugal are highly supported by the government. This means that tuition fees are lower than some other European countries. Both public and private institutions are allowed to set their own tuition fees, but a public institution will be less expensive. If you study at a private university, you will most likely pay monthly fees, and at a public university you will most likely pay annual tuition fees. EU and international students should expect to pay between €950 and €1,250 per year for bachelors and masters degrees, and between €2,500 and €3,000 for doctorate degrees. You may be eligible for a scholarship, check with your institution for scholarships on offer.
It is recommended that you budget between €8,000 and €10,500 per year for living costs, but living in a bigger city such as Lisbon will make your living costs more expensive. If you choose to live in university accommodation, it will cost between €150 and €250 per month, with private accommodation costing around €400 per month.
EU students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full time during the holidays, so you may be able to supplement your living costs. This should not be relied on to finance your studies however. If you wish to get a job, some knowledge of the Portuguese language would be helpful.
Depending on your home country, you may need to apply for a visa in order to study in Portugal.
If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you will not need to obtain a visa. All you will need to have is your ID card. You should ensure that you have an EHIC card, to allow you access to the same healthcare as Portuguese citizens at the same rates. If you do not hold an EHIC card, you should make sure to acquire one before you travel to Portugal, otherwise you will have to pay for health insurance.
If you are from any other country, you will need to apply for a student visa. You can do this at the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country. To obtain a visa, you will need to provide several documents. These are; a valid passport, a completed application form, a letter of acceptance from a Portuguese institution, academic transcripts, passport photographs, proof of funds and a copy of your health insurance policy. If you do not have a health insurance policy, you need to purchase one before you apply for a visa. Your institution will be able to recommend appropriate insurance providers.
The official language of Portugal is Portuguese. The country also has a recognised regional language of Mirandese.
The majority of undergraduate degrees are taught in Portuguese, and it is more common to find postgraduate degrees taught in English. If you choose to study in Portuguese and it is not your native language, you will need to prove your proficiency. You are able to take Portuguese language courses if you need to improve your language skills. If you choose to study in English and it is not your native language, you will also need to prove your language skills meet the teaching requirements. Some institutions offer English language courses to help you improve.
If you do study in English, you should still try to learn as much Portuguese as possible. This will make your everyday life easier and more enjoyable, as well as looking great on your CV/resume!
The capital and largest city in Portugal, Lisbon is home to over 500,000 people. Lisbon is an alpha-level global city because of its importance in finance, commerce and education. The city is one of the oldest in the world, predating cities such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries.
Located in the city you will find three public universities and one university institute, as well as several private institutions. One of the public universities is the University of Lisbon, which is the largest university in Portugal.
Find out more about Universities in Lisbon.
The second largest city in Portugal, Porto has a population of just under 250,000 people. The city is one of the oldest European centres, and its historical city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Port wine, one of Portugal’s most famous exports, is named after the city. In both 2014 and 2017, Porto was elected ‘The Best European Destination’.
You will find the University of Porto located in the city, which has around 28,000 students enrolling each year. Also located in the city is the Instituto Politecnico do Porto, which is a public polytechnic institute offering degree programmes in a wide variety of subject areas.
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