Portuguese Higher Education System

The Portuguese educational system is regulated by the Basic Law of the Educational System and is developed in three levels: primary, secondary and higher educationO sistema educativo português encontra-se regulado pela Lei de Bases do Sistema Educativo e é desenvolvido em três níveis: ensino básico, secundário e superior.

 

Organization of higher education

Portuguese higher education is organized in a binary system that integrates university education and polytechnic education and is taught in public and private institutions.

The private higher education institutions have to obtain prior recognition of the Ministry with the authority of the Higher Education. 

University education includes universities, university institutes and other university teaching institutions. Polytechnic education comprises polytechnic institutes and other polytechnic teaching institutions.

Binary system

University education is guided by a perspective of research promotion and creation of knowledge and aims to ensure solid scientific and cultural preparation and provide technical training to enable for the exercise of professional and cultural activities and promote the development of design capabilities, innovation and critical analysis.

Polytechnic education is guided by a perspective of applied research and development aimed at understanding and solving concrete problems and aims at providing a solid cultural and technical training at the higher level, developing the capacity for innovation and critical analysis and providing scientific knowledge of theoretical and practical nature and their applications for the exercise of professional activities.

Autonomy

Higher education institutions enjoy scientific, pedagogical, cultural and disciplinary autonomy.

Scientific autonomy consists of the ability to define, program and execute research and other scientific activities.

Pedagogical autonomy encompasses the ability to draw up curricula, define curricular unit objects, define teaching methods, affect resources, and choose knowledge assessment processes.

Cultural autonomy translates into the ability to define the training program and cultural initiatives.

Disciplinary autonomy confers the power to punish, in terms of the law and the statutes, disciplinary infractions committed by teachers, researchers and other employees, as well as students.
 

These autonomies include subjects such as the specific conditions of entry into study cycles, the conditions of study cycles, study plans, precedence and evaluation schemes, the prescription regime, curricular transitional norms, deadlines for issuing academic documents, changes in schedules and operating regimes, or deadlines for responding to requirements.

Structure of degrees and diplomas of higher education

In 2005 a process of reform of the Basic Law of the Educational System was started in order to implement the Bologna Process, with the introduction of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) in study cycles, mobility mechanisms, diploma supplement, among others .

Higher education began to have a new structure of three cycles of studies, leading to the academic degrees of licenciado, mestre and dotor. This structure was introduced in 2006 and fully implemented in Portugal from the 2009/2010 school year.

Generic qualification descriptors were established for each cycle of studies, based on the acquired competences, as well as the definition of ECTS intervals for the first and second cycle of studies.

In 2014, a non-academic higher education cycle was created, called a professional higher technical course, which corresponds to the short cycle of studies linked to the 1st cycle provided for in the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area.

Accreditation and quality assurance

The Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior (Agency for the Evaluation and Accreditation of Higher Education) is the competent authority to evaluate and accredit higher education institutions and their study cycles. This Agency is an independent body vis-à-vis state and institutions and aims to promote and ensure quality in higher education.

The evaluation and accreditation criteria are those laid down in the legal systems of degrees and diplomas of higher education and evaluation of higher education.

In addition to the previous accreditation of study cycles to be created, that Agency also carries out regular accreditation of the study cycles that are in operation.A  é a entidade competente para avaliar e acreditar as instituições de ensino superior e os seus ciclos de estudos. Esta Agência é um organismo independente face ao estado e às instituições e tem por objetivo promover e assegurar a qualidade no ensino superior.    

Os critérios de avaliação e acreditação são os fixados nos regimes jurídicos dos graus e diplomas de ensino superior e de avaliação do ensino superior.

Para além da acreditação prévia de ciclos de estudos a criar, aquela Agência procede ainda à acreditação regular dos ciclos de estudos que se encontram em funcionamento. 

Legislation

Lei n.º 46/86, de 14 de outubro - Lei de Bases do Sistema Educativo
Lei nº 46/86, de 14 de outubro
Estabelece o quadro geral do sistema educativo
State: Vigente
Diplomas estruturantes do Ensino Superior
Lei n.º 62/2007, de 10 de setembro - Regime Jurídico das Instituições de Ensino Superior
Lei nº 62/2007, de 10 de setembro
Estabelece o regime jurídico das instituições de ensino superior, regulando designadamente a sua constituição, atribuições e organização, o funcionamento e competência dos seus órgãos e, ainda, a tutela e fiscalização pública do Estado sobre as mesmas, no quadro da sua autonomia
State: Vigente
Diplomas estruturantes do Ensino Superior
Decreto-Lei n.º 74/2006, de 24 de março - Graus e Diplomas do Ensino Superior
Decreto-Lei nº 74/2006, de 24 de março
Aprova o regime jurídico dos graus académicos e diplomas do ensino superior
State: Vigente
Diplomas estruturantes do Ensino Superior, Graus, Títulos e Equivalências, Cursos Técnicos Superiores Profissionais (TeSP)
Decreto-Lei n.º 42/2005, de 22 de fevereiro - Princípios reguladores de instrumentos para a criação do espaço europeu de ensino superior (ECTS)
Decreto-Lei nº 42/2005, de 22 de fevereiro
Aprova os princípios reguladores de instrumentos para a criação do espaço europeu de ensino superior (ECTS)
State: Vigente
Diplomas estruturantes do Ensino Superior, Graus, Títulos e Equivalências
Decreto-Lei n.º 369/2007, de 5 de novembro - Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior
Decreto-Lei nº 369/2007, de 5 de novembro
Cria a Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior e aprova os respetivos estatutos
State: Vigente
Diplomas estruturantes do Ensino Superior
Lei n.º 38/2007, de 16 de agosto - Avaliação do Ensino Superior
Lei nº 38/2007, de 16 de agosto
Aprova o regime jurídico da avaliação da qualidade do ensino superior
State: Vigente
Diplomas estruturantes do Ensino Superior