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.
The territory of Portugal includes an area in the Iberian Peninsula (referred to as the continent by most Portuguese) and two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean: the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. Mainland Portugal is split by its main river, the Tagus that flows from Spain and disgorges in Tagus Estuary, in Lisbon, before escaping into the Atlantic. The northern landscape is mountainous towards the interior with several plateaus indented by river valleys, whereas the south, that includes the Algarve and the Alentejo regions, is characterized by rolling plains.
Portugal is a Republic in southwestern Europe adjacent to the Iberian Peninsula and bordered by Spain to the east and north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west. Portugual holds sovereignty over the Madeira and Azores archipelagos and is named after Porto, the country's second largest city. A member of the European Union and listed high on the HDI, or Human Development Index, Portugal is a peaceful, globalized nation that also belongs to the United Nations, the Latin Union, NATO and the Organization of Ibero-American States.
Following the approval of its current constitution in 1976, Portugal has been operating as a democratic republic with Lisbon as its capital and largest city. The Assembly of the Republic, the President of the Republic, the Government and the Prime Minister are Portugal's four primary governmental institutions. Similar to the U.S. and Europe, Portugal has several political parties from which citizens choose candidates and elect. The two dominant parties are the Social Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, with the Ecologist Party and the Portuguese Communist Party regularly garnering about ten percent of the vote during each election.
Essential Facts about Portugal
- Portugal opened the largest solar energy factory in the world in 2006, in the city of Alentejo.
- Besides Portugal and Brazil, Portuguese is also spoken in Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde.
- Students choosing to earn a degree in Portugal will want to see the longest bridge existing in Europe--the Vasco de Gama Bridge--that spans nearly 11 miles, or 17.3 kilometers and crosses the Tagus River near Lisbon.
- Bullfighting remains legal in Portugal.
- Portugal is home to nearly 11 million people, with one-third of its population living in Lisbon and Porto.
- Coimbra, Portugal is home to one of Europe's oldest universities, the University of Coimbra, which was established in 1290 A.D.The Portuguese eat more fish than any other people in the world.
Portugal offers Mediterranean, Steppe and semi-arid climates and presents some of the warmest temperatures in Europe. Visitors to the Guadiana basin near Spain's border may swelter under summertime temperatures reaching as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). However, snow falls regularly between October and May in Portugal's northern and central regions, with winter temperatures averaging 25 degrees Fahrenheit, or -9 Celsius.
Being a member of the European Union, Portugal's main currency is the euro and its Banco de Portugal represents a significant component of the ESCB (European System of Central Banks). The majority of Portugal's financial and business organizations are based in Porto and Lisbon's metropolitan areas.
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