ORGANISATION OF THE PORTUGUESE
AND OF ITS STRUCTURE
ERASMUS PLUS- KA2-INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGICAL TOOLS (NO- 2018-1-RO01-KA229-049123)
EDUCATION IN PORTUGAL
is free and compulsory until the age of 18, when students complete the
12th grade. The education is regulated by the State through the Ministry of
Education. There is a system of public education and also many private
schools at all levels of education. The first Portuguese medieval
universities, such as the University of Coimbra, were created in the 13th
century, and the national higher education system is fully integrated into
the European Higher Education Area.
The basic literacy rate of the Portuguese population is 95.7% (97.1% male, 94.4%
female). According to INE (Portuguese Institute for National Statistics), only 3.7 million
Portuguese workers (67% of the working active population) completed basic education (81% of
the working population attained the lower basic level of education and 12% attained the
intermediate level of education).
According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, the average
Portuguese 15-year-old student, when rated in terms of reading literacy, mathematics and
science knowledge, is placed significantly above the OECD's average, at a similar level as those
students from Norway, Poland, Denmark and Belgium, with 501 points (493 is the average). The
PISA results of the Portuguese students have been continuously improving, surpassing those of
a number of other highly developed western countries like the US, Austria, France and Sweden.
SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR
Each school year starts in mid September and ends in mid June. There are three holiday
breaks during the year: Christmas break (2 weeks), Carnival break (3 days) and Easter
break (2 weeks).
The school year is divided in three terms, usually limited by the following dates:
1st term - from 15–21 September to 15 December
2nd term - from 3 January to two weeks before Easter
3rd term - from the Tuesday after Easter to 15 June
After the end of the 3rd term, there are national exams during June and July for students
in 9th, 11th and 12th years, and measurement exams in 2nd, 5th and 8th years.
The Portuguese education system is divided into four sequential levels. It
begins with Pre-school Education, an optional cycle for children from 3
to 6 year-olds. Basic Education comes next, comprising 3 sequential
The first cycle of 4 years (6 to 10 year-olds);
the second cycle of 2 years (10 to 12 year-olds), corresponding to ISCED1;
the third cycle of 3 years (12 to 15 year-olds), corresponding to ISCED 2.
Children from four months (the usual maternity leave) until they
are three years old may frequent a nursery (Infantário or Creche).
The large majority of nurseries are private. Other nurseries are run
by the Portuguese Social Security and are partly financed by the
state. In these nurseries parents pay according to their income.
Pre-primary education is optional from the ages of three to five,
and is provided in both state-run and private kindergartens schools.
State-run kindergartens provision is free of charge. The schools are
known as Jardins de Infância (Kindergartens). Most international
schools offer an international approach to pre-primary learning and
follow a curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate.
Basic Education (Ensino Básico) lasts for nine years divided into three
stages of four, two and three years respectively. The stages are
respectively 1º Ciclo (1st Cycle), 2º Ciclo (2nd Cycle) and 3º
Ciclo (3rd Cycle).
A Diploma/Certificate is awarded at the end of the third stage.
Secondary Education (Ensino Secundário)- public, private or
cooperative - is compulsory since the school year of 2012/2013 and
consists of a three-year cycle after basic education.
In Portugal, Basic Education consists of nine years of schooling divided into three sequential cycles of education of
four, two and three years.
Children aged six by 15 September must be enrolled in their first school year in that calendar year. In addition,
children who reach the age of six between 16 September and 31 December may be authorized to attend the
first stage of education, provided a request is submitted by their parents or guardians to the school nearest to
their residence (or place of work) during the annual enrollment period. State-run schools are free of charge;
private school tuition is refunded by the State in part or fully, when state-run schools in the area are filled to
capacity. The first cycle of basic mandatory education covers years 1st-4th, the second cycle years 5th-6th and
the third cycle years 7th-9th. The curriculum contains only general education until the 9th year at which point
vocational subjects are introduced.
At the end of each cycle, students take national evaluation exams for the subjects of Portuguese Language and
Mathematics. Schools do not give (or sell) any books or materials; financial assistance is available for poorer
families. The school books are chosen at school's level every four years.
1st Cycle State-run schools are owned by the municipalities; all other State-run schools are owned by the State.
Upper Secondary Education is a 3 year cycle for 15 to 18 year-olds
(corresponding to ISCED 3) and includes seven types of courses:
Specific Science-Technology courses
Specialised Artistic Courses
Education and Training Courses
Recurrent Secondary Education.
Vocational Secondary Education
The vocational secondary courses comprises of three components: socio-cultural, scientific and technical components.
The socio-cultural and scientific study components are common to all courses, while the technical, technological,
and artistic training components vary depending on the course. Upon successful completion of the vocational
course, students are awarded a level III vocational qualification. Pupils who graduate from vocational institutions
can go for higher education.
Adult Education (Life Long Learning )
The adult education system provides an opportunity to pursue basic and secondary school education. This opportunity
is for individuals aged 15 or above for basic education courses, and 18 or above for secondary education
courses. The adult education course consists of 3 elements: general education undertaken by all pupils, scientific
education and technical training.
Over the last decades, Portugal has made a significant effort to increase the qualification level of the general adult
population. Since 2000, Portugal has developed the National System for Recognising, Validating and Certifying
Competences (RVCC), carried out in the National Network of Centres for Recognising, Validating and Certifying
(New Opportunities Centres) and now CQEP - Centers for Qualification and Vocational Education.
Higher Education is structured according to the Bologna Principles and is aimed at students who
successfully completed a Secondary Education course or obtained a legally equivalent qualification,
and grants a level-5 or -6 qualifications.
ISCED 4 corresponds to post-secondary non-higher education, while ISCED 5 corresponds to a short
cycle Higher Education programme.
ISCED 6 comprises the Licenciatura (or equivalent) programmes, and ISCED 7 the Master programmes
(or equivalent). ISCED 8 corresponds to a Doctoral programme (or equivalent).
Access to higher education
At the end of 11th grade, students have national exams in the two specific subjects of their course. At
the end of the 12th grade, the exams are in Portuguese language and the main subject of the
course. The access to higher education is made through a national online process, where the
students enter the college by priority based on their grades.
Higher education in Portugal is divided into two main subsystems: university and polytechnic.
It is provided in autonomous universities, in university institutes, in polytechnic institutes and
in separate university or polytechnic schools. The previous institutions can be either
public or private. The university subsystem is intended to have a strong theoretical basis
and to be highly research-oriented. The polytechnic subsystem is intended to provides a
more practical training and is profession-oriented.
Degrees in some fields such as medicine, law, natural
sciences, economics, psychology or veterinary are only offered in the university
system. Nursing, preschool education, accounting technician or health care technician
degrees are only offered in the polytechnic system. The other fields,
including engineering, technology, management, education, agriculture, sports,
or humanities are found both in university and polytechnic systems.
STUDYING IN PORTUGAL
“Portugal is an amazing study abroad destination with a host of universities offering top-notch degree
programs in every field imaginable. In southwestern Europe is brimming with old world charm and
new-world excitement, a dazzling variety of landscapes, cultural attractions galore, and some of the
friendliest people in Europe. Portugal is the country of the world's third most-spoken European
language and the linguistic gateway to Africa and Brazil.
Universities in Portugal have an old tradition. This tradition has remained to this day in which
universities are fundamental institutions in Portuguese society. There are 16 public universities and
more than 30 private institutions in Portugal that offer a wide range of undergraduate, post-
graduate, doctoral and research programs in virtually every field. Portugal is an amazing study
abroad destination with a host of universities offering top-notch degree programs in every field
National students from European Union (EU) countries, European Economic Area/EEA (Iceland,
Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland have the right to live in the national territory for a
period up to 3 months without other conditions and/or formalities beyond having a valid identity
card or passport. However, if their stay is longer than 3 months, they must formalize their right of
residence within 30 days after the three-month stay in the country. For more information check the
Foreigner’s Service (SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) .”