Higher Education in Portugal
Portugal offers polytechnic and university-type education that is provided by private or public universities, university institutes or polytechnic institutes. Universities operated by the government admit students via a competitive system called numerus clausus, or "enrollment restrictions". Students must pass exams that test them over specific subjects and receive minimum grades before they are legally allowed to apply to universities. Admission criteria for many undergraduate and graduate degree programs taught in public universities are generally more demanding and selective than criteria expected by polytechnics or private universities.
The Portuguese higher education system is exceptionally research-oriented but polytechnics offer students the chance to earn degrees in professional fields such as psychology, law, economics, medicine and the natural sciences. Degrees encompassing educational, technological, engineering and liberal arts careers are provided by both polytechnic institutions and universities. All private and public higher education facilities cannot operate unless they have been recognized by Portugal's Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior (Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education).
International students wishing to attend a Portuguese university will need the equivalent of a Diploma de Ensino Secundári, which is similar to a U.S. high school diploma, as well as documentation indicating entrance exam test scores. Because Portugal is part of the European Union and adheres to the Bologna Process, students recieve bachelor's (licenciatura), master's (mestrado) and doctorate (Doutoramento) degrees that are comparable to those given in the U.S. and most of Europe.
Student Visa Requirements
European Union students do not need a visa to study in Portugal, although EU students may need to show they can support themselves before they are allowed to begin coursework at a Portuguese university. Alternately, non-EU students will have to obtain a student visa if they plan to remain in Portugal for more than three months. Paperwork necessary for starting the visa application process includes a valid passport; completed application; one passport photograph; university acceptance letter; copy of a travel itinerary and airplane ticket; proof of health insurance and bank statements or other proof of the student's financial status.
Higher education is not free in Portugal but scholarships and other financial aid may be available to eligible students. Average cost of yearly tuition fees for bachelor's and master's degree programs is approximately $1300 to $1800 U.S. dollars, or 950 to 1300 euros. Doctorate degrees cost significantly higher.
Why Study in Portugal?
With Portugal's higher education system increasing its focus on technology and research in the fields of space, biotechnology and renewable resources, students who are interested in pursuing careers in these industries will find that Portuguese universities have more to offer than many other institutions. In addition, Portugal's countryside is geographically and climatically diverse, offering picturesque mountains, lovely pastures and miles of coastline for students to experience and explore.