International Education

Higher Education in PortugalHigher education in Portugal is available through a number of public and private universities, polytechnics and numerous other smaller institutions. Although spaces at public institutions are limited, private institutions provide an alternative to those who can afford the higher tuition fees. Admission to the public universities is very competitive. Students may apply for up to six programs, using a centralized system. Applications to each of the programs will only be accepted if all prerequisites have been met for the applicable program. Prerequisites include a secondary school diploma and may also include specific prior secondary school coursework, minimum secondary school grades and minimum entrance exam grades. Entrance to polytechnics and private institutions is less competitive. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education oversees the higher education system including both public and private institutions. Tuition at public institutions has been about 1000 euros a year recently while private school tuition has typically been much higher. Types of Schools and DegreesAs of 2010, fifteen public universities and university institutes as well as a number of private university-level institutions provide research oriented education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some of the universities offer a broad based range of subject matters while others offer programs specific to a few areas. The bigger universities tend to be geographically dispersed across a city with each department in a separate location. There are more than 30 government run polytechnics and a number of private polytechnics which provide more practical, profession-oriented education. All of the higher education institutions offer bachelor's (also called "graduate") and master's degrees while only universities and university-level institutions confer doctoral degrees. Degrees conferred by all recognized public and private institutions conform to the standards defined by the Bologna agreement which was implemented to enable standardization of higher education degrees across Europe. International StudentsInternational students have composed just under five percent of students in higher education in recent years. Foreign students are welcome to apply to higher education institutions in Portugal although students should keep in mind that admittance to full degree programs at public universities is very competitive. Studying in Portugal through an exchange program or at a private institution are the easiest paths for many students. Admission to public institutions requires that students have completed a secondary school program which is recognized by the Portuguese government. Students must also obtain government approval to have exams taken in a foreign country take the place of the Portuguese national exams. Courses are taught in Portuguese at the undergraduate level so fluency in the language is needed although some graduate level programs are now offered in English. About PortugalPortugal is a country of close to 11 million people who primarily speak the national language of Portuguese. It is the westernmost country in Europe and is bordered on the east and north by Spain and on the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal is a member of the European Union, NATO and the Latin Union. The capital of Lisbon is the largest city which is home to three public universities and is an important city in the global economic system. Portugal is also a popular tourist destination, offering an affordable option with interesting architecture, historical sites and beautiful natural scenery. Resources Portugal's Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (Portuguese language) Portugal's official tourism website