Every year, thousands of students choose Portugal as their destination for a year or a semester of study abroad.
Living in Portugal means enjoying beautiful landscapes, small private coves, cobbled streets, a rich nightlife and Portuguese cuisine based on dried cod and fresh fish. There are plenty of places to visit between seaside resorts and historic towns.
If it is the ideal destination for tourists looking for a picturesque atmosphere, what about studying?
Follow the guide to choose the best place to study to go to Portugal.
Studying In Portugal: All The Universities
In Portugal, there are public and private universities. Whether you want to study in the city of Lisbon, the most affordable European capital, in the historic centre of Coimbra or near beautiful beaches, it should be first and foremost your chosen curriculum that will decide which Portuguese city you will study in.
Before choosing your university, the first question to ask yourself is: what is the field of study or diploma you want to follow?
The best Portuguese universities
The University of Porto is the second largest in Portugal but it is above all the best in terms of teaching and research facilities. You will be able to choose amongst 13 faculties, its Institute of Biomedical Sciences and its Business School.
The New University of Lisbon, also known as NOVA, has the best economics faculty in the country. 20,000 students follow their courses each year. If you want to live in the capital of Portugal, and follow the courses at NOVA, you probably won't progress much in Portuguese since your classes will most likely be in English.
The University of Coimbra is third in the ranking of the best universities in the country but it is undoubtedly the oldest. It is also 407th in the ranking of QS world universities. It is one of the oldest operating universities in Europe and even in the world.
The University of Coimbra is an important centre for research and higher education. The historic building has eight faculties: architecture, education, engineering, humanities, law, mathematics, medicine, natural sciences, psychology, social sciences and sport. There are 24,000 students who walk the corridors of the various faculties throughout the year.
The University of Lisbon has nearly 50,000 students and 18 faculties and institutes. It is the largest in Portugal and one of the largest in Europe. The university is one of the best in the country, particularly in engineering and computer science.
The Portuguese Catholic University is a private university with offices in Lisbon, Porto, Braga and Viseu. It is particularly well known as a business school. You can take courses in English.
At the University of Minho, you can take courses in Architecture, Science, Engineering, Design, Education, Humanities, Social Sciences, Economics and Management, Law, Health Sciences, Psychology and Nursing. It was named 50th best university in Europe in terms of teaching by the Times Higher Education in 2018.
Other Portuguese universities
But Portugal is not just Lisbon and Porto. To discover all the varieties of azulejos, listen to fado and visit the most beautiful beaches, you sometimes have to go to more remote places.
An excellent way to be forced to work on your Portuguese.
Here are some other universities located from north to south of Portugal:
- Aberta University: the only university in Portugal to offer distance learning courses for the preparation of a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in the fields of science and technology, human sciences and management,
- The University of the Azores, which offers degrees, masters and doctorates in architecture, medicine, engineering, pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicine, biology, economics, psychology, public relations and communication, tourism, among others,
- The University of the Algarve in Faro in southern Portugal has an ambivalent system thanks to the combination of a university and a polytechnic institute. 8 faculties are present on 4 campuses: Education and Communication (ESEC), Management, Hospitality and Tourism (ESGHT), Health (ESS), Engineering (ISE), Human and Social Sciences (FCHS), Science and Technology (FCT), Economics, Biomedical and Medical Sciences (DCBM),
- The University of Aveiro: biology, medicine, social and political sciences, economics, communication, art...
- The University of Beira Interior: science, engineering, social and human sciences, art and literature, health sciences,
- The University of Evora: Arts, Science and Technology, Social Sciences and Nursing,
- University of Madeira: Faculty of Arts, Engineering, Social Sciences, Medicine, Technology, Hospitality and Nursing,
- The University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douroà Vila Real.
There are other, private universities. But private universities mean higher tuition fees - they can reach €8,000 a year. If you do not take an Erasmus scholarship, you will have to pay them.
Technical Institutes in Portugal
Universities provide theoretical and general knowledge while Portugal's polytechnic institutes prepare for a profession by providing vocational training.
The organization remains the same and the BMD system generally applies to polytechnics.
However polytechnic institutes have been slower to adapt their system to conform with the European standards, and not all of them will deliver a European recognised diploma.
The Polytechnic Institute of Bragança offers courses in English and offers bachelor's and master's degrees in management, chemical and biological engineering, translation and computer science.
In Coimbra, the Polytechnic Institute offers only one master's degree in electrical energy systems. The courses are given in English.
The Viseu Polytechnic Institute offers various courses in agronomy, education sciences, nursing and administration, tourism, management and social work. Courses are given in Portuguese.
In Leiria, the Polytechnic Institute provides courses in Portuguese and English. Their diplomas can prepare you for civil engineering, engineering, computer science, tourism or biotechnology. Only master's degrees are available.
In Porto, you can also study management and accounting at ISCAP or marketing at IPAM (also available in Lisbon).
The Polytechnic Institute of Santarém offers courses in Portuguese and English in sport, agronomy, social economy and information systems management (bachelor and master).
Finally, in Tomar, you can opt for a professional degree in human resources, construction, culture and tourism, mechanical engineering or business administration.
University Fees In Portugal
You don't just go to Portugal to get lost in the narrow streets of Lisboa, enjoy the beach in Cascais or visit the Belem Tower. Above all, you will have to finance your studies.
Even if Portuguese schools are far less excessive than the fees of England, the minimum value of school fees in Portugal is set at 1065 € but more generally it reaches 1500 €.
So, to avoid having to pay these costs, you can apply for an Erasmus grant. In addition to a monthly scholarship, Erasmus will cover your tuition fees at your host university. However, you will have to pay the tuition fees of your UK university which goes around £9000 a year these days.
Fortunately, life is cheaper in Portugal, even in a big city like Lisbon. For your accommodation, you can find a shared room at £200 per month. With a little luck, you could get a place in a university residence at less than £100 per month but the places are expensive...
Amélie, 22, was at the University of Alberta and says that roommates can sometimes be complicated and that everyone has to make an effort: "I got in a flatshare with a Brazilian woman, Luna. We shared a student room, at 230 euros each per month. At first, cohabitation was complicated because I was always messy and Luna, she was more of a Bree Van de Kamp type. We had a few fights over it. »
Food is also more affordable, budget of about £100 per month. On the other hand, public transport is more expensive than in provincial cities but still cheaper than in London! Count 36 € for a monthly pass to Lisbon.
Plan to have money set aside by saving in advance or taking out a student loan. Indeed, student jobs are not as easy to find as in London and are paid much less.
Even if you find one, the minimum wage in Portugal is €680 and it is often at this rate that servers or sales assistant are paid.
The key is to prepare your stay well and to be open-minded to make the most of your term, semester or year in Erasmus in Portugal.