Portugal is situated on the western cost of Europe, located on the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are part of the Portuguese democratic Republic. The capital city of Lisbon is the nation's largest city, with 2,641,000 inhabitants.

The Portuguese Empire was the longest-lived of the European colonial empires, spanning almost 600 years. The empire spread throughout a vast number of territories that are now part of 53 different Sovereign States. Portugal's international status was greatly reduced during the 19th century, especially following the Independence of Brazil.

One of the warmest European countries, Portugal has a mild Mediterranean climate with over 3,000 hours of sun per year. It has 1,200 km of coastline, along with farmland and vineyards, mountains, valleys, and plains.

Portugal is a developed country with an advanced economy and high standards of living. It is one of the world's most globalized countries and has a low crime rate. It is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the Schengen Area, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. Portugal is also among the 20 most visited countries in the world, with about 13 million tourists each year. Scientific and technological research in Portugal is mainly conducted in public universities and state-managed autonomous institutions.

• Accommodation is 250-300 EUR to 600 EUR per month for a room or shared flat.

• A monthly Lisbon Metro card will cost only 35 EUR. Students can get a 50% discount.

• Sunday mornings and bank holidays are a good time to visit public museums, as admittance is free until 2 pm.

• A meal in a small restaurant in Lisbon can cost around 5 EUR.

• Beautiful coastline with about 3300 hours of sunshine per year in the south.

• In 2010, the European Consumers Choice Awards rated Lisbon as the "Best Destination 2010” and in 2011 it was voted one of the 42 cities in the world with the best quality of life, by the Worldwide Quality of Living Survey 2011.

• The pace of life in Portugal is laid back, and locals conduct business in their own time.

• Portuguese people enjoy long lunches, seafood and good wines.

• The transport system is functional and aesthetically pleasing.

• Portuguese people are very polite and helpful.

• Many outdoor activities are available: biking, hiking, sunbathing, sailing, swimming. Portugal is also one of the world's top surfing spots.

Portugal is a country rich in history and culture that has greatly influenced the world. Presently, studies indicate that Portugal is the 7th most peaceful and the 13th most globalized country in the world. It also ranks 19th place in the world in quality of life.

More than just a sunny Mediterranean tourist destination, Portugal has become in recent years a great place to receive quality higher education. 35 public universities and more than 94 private institutions offer a multitude of undergraduate, post-graduate, doctoral and research programs. Portugal's oldest university dates from 1290, and is the 9th oldest university in the world.

Structure of the Higher Education

Portuguese universities ("universidade") are focused on theoretical education, while polytechnics ("politécnico") are the best choice for vocational studies. Private higher education institutions cannot operate without having been recognized by the Ministry of Education.

1. Polytechnic institutions award the Licenciado degree after the 1st cycle of studies and the Mestre degree after the 2nd cycle of studies. In certain cases, the Licenciado is awarded after seven or eight semesters. The Mestre degree is awarded after a period of studies of three to four semesters. Access to the Mestre is open to holders of the Licenciado or an equivalent foreign higher education qualification.

2. Courses leading to the licenciado degree at universities are awarded after a period of study of six to eight semesters. Courses leading to the mestre degrees are awarded after a period of three to four semesters. The Mestre can also be awarded after as much as 10 to 12 semesters. The Doutor degree is awarded only by university institutions and require writing and defending an original thesis.

The Agregação is the highest academic qualification, reserved to holders of a Doutor degree. It requires the capacity to undertake high-level research and special pedagogical competence. It is awarded after passing specific examinations.

In order to qualify for admission to higher education student are required to:

• Have a high school diploma officially recognized by a Portuguese embassy in your home country.

• Submit your study application through the Portuguese online system.

• Send all required documents to the university (application form, your school history and study plan).

• Get a European Health Insurance Card or private health insurance.

• Bring your vaccination record card.

• All foreign exchange students coming from non-EU countries should hold a study visa valid for one year.

• Students coming from EU member states are allowed in the country by presenting valid identification.

• Students staying in the country for more than 3 months should request a residence permit valid for one year from the Immigration Services.

Study, Fees and Quality

Portuguese university programs are affordable. The average undergraduate tuition at a Portuguese college is not more than 1,500 USD per year. Credentials and diplomas earned at Portuguese universities are recognized throughout the European Union. The Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior (Higher Education Accreditation and Evaluation Agency) ensures that Portuguese universities keep up to date with international standards.


Portuguese is the world's third most-spoken European language, also spoken in Brazil and some African countries. Affordable Portuguese language learning online courses are also available.

Strategic partnerships between Portuguese universities and international schools have resulted in quality distance learning programmes. Many English taught programmes are very appealing to international students. Furthermore, thousands of foreign students visit Portugal every year as part of student exchange programmes.

Visa Requirements

Most non-EU nationalities need a study visa if they plan to stay in Portugal for longer than 90 days. Students may ask for detailed information from the Portuguese embassy in their country. Students need the following to apply for a student visa for study in Portugal:

• Valid passport expiring no earlier than three months after returning home.

• Completed application form.

• One passport size photograph.

• Proof of proper accommodation.

• Valid ticket or other proof of departure arrangements.

• Proof of sufficient financial means to support themselves.

• Proof of health insurance coverage.