The westernmost country in mainland Europe, Portugal is surely among the continent’s most attractive destinations – well, assuming you’re attracted by the prospect of a mild Mediterranean climate, beautiful coastline and cities packed with historic interest and cultural experiences.
Higher education in Portugal comes in two forms: universities and polytechnics. The main difference is that universities have a greater focus on academic research, while polytechnics are focused more on preparing students for a specific career.
Some subjects are only offered at either universities or polytechnics, but there’s also a lot of overlap. For example, both universities and polytechnics offer degrees in subjects such as engineering, management and humanities subjects.
Universities in Portugal
Five Portuguese universities appear in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings. The highest entry is the University of Coimbra, which is Portugal’s oldest university – and one of the oldest in the world, established in 1290.
Portugal is participating in the Bologna Process, which aims to establish a common structure for higher education across Europe. In accord with this structure, Portuguese universities offer three levels of degree.
The first level, a licenciatura (or bachelor’s degree), usually lasts three or four years. The second, mestrado (or master’s) usually lasts one or two years. And the third, duotoramento (doctorate) typically takes three years.
Most courses – certainly at bachelor’s level – are taught in Portuguese. At graduate level, it’s more common to find English-taught programs, but it’s still definitely an asset to be able to speak the national language – this is not a country where you can rely on everyone being able to speak English.
Facts about Portugal
- Capital and largest city: Lisbon
- Portuguese is the world’s eighth largest language by number of native speakers
- Currency: the euro
- Major exports include textiles, wood products and electrical equipment
- Westernmost country in mainland Europe
- Borders with Spain to the north and east, and Atlantic Ocean to the west and south
- According to OECD data, Portugal has more than 22.6 million visitors annually – more than twice the resident population
- Lisbon and second-largest city Porto are both recognized as key global cities by the Globalization and World Cities Research Group
- Traditional Portuguese ‘fado’ music is known for its mournful melodies and lyrics
- The annual Quiema das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons) festival, celebrated by students at several Portuguese universities, features a full week of music concerts, parades, campaigns and general merriment
Additional information about Portugal