Strategic Guidelines for Higher Education


It is urgent to strategically think about higher education in Portugal, taking into consideration the challenges that result from the globalization of the economy and higher education, the goals set out by the Strategy “Europe 2020”, and, specially, the dramatic demographic changes that we have suffered.

Because we are still facing an insufficient demand for higher education to allow us to reach the goals that we have established, the Government has chosen to reinforce its policies to widen the participation in higher education, to respond to the needs of young people and to promote the increase of the qualifications of the Portuguese. These policies will also reinforce employability, social mobility and cohesion, as well as the renewal of the productive structures.

Higher education institutions have a key role to play in the balanced and sustainable development of the country. It is necessary to strengthen the links between what is taught and the business sector, by consolidating the education resources and by reinforcing them in areas of knowledge that offer greater employability and a greater strategic interest. It is also important to adjust the scale of the education and training offered and potentiate efficiency gains, in order to increase competitiveness and international attractiveness.

It is, therefore, necessary to rethink our public higher education system in line with the commitments made in the XIX Constitutional Government Programme.

It is in this context that the Strategic Guidelines for Higher Education were prepared. They were presented on the 7th May 2014 in a public session that took place in Thalia Theatre, in Lisbon, and was attended by University Rectors, Polytechnic Presidents and leaders of the Portuguese Private Higher Education Association.

These guidelines aim to achieve the Government’s strategies based on the increase of participation in higher education, the reinforcement of its quality, the consolidation of the higher education institution’s network, the rationalization of the programmes offered, the establishment of a new financing model and internationalization.

The creation of the short cycle professional higher education courses (TeSP) and the development of a programme that allows to recover young people that dropped out from higher education – Programa Retomar – are important initiatives to increase the participation in higher education, without neglecting the effort to improve higher education.

The reinforcement of the quality of the study cycles and academic success are also important goals to be reached. For this, special attention will be given to the distinction between 1st and 2nd study cycles in the university and polytechnic subsystems, promoting the evaluation of the learning outcomes and the regulation of the evaluation and accreditation of distance learning.

The consolidation of the network of higher education institutions is a pressing need. Whilst considering geographic proximity and respecting institutions’ autonomy, measures will be taken to regulate the establishment of consortia. The payment system for higher education institutions’ members of management and administration and their organic units will also be regulated, encouraging the maximization benefits. With the Programme Superior + it will also be possible to attract young people to regions that have been affected by population decline.

With the strategic guidelines for higher education it is also intended to make available an offer of public higher education that will avoid unjustified duplications, considering the real regional and national needs of the education and training offered.

The present financing model has shown to be inadequate. The prevalence of historical criteria in the budgetary allocation will give place to the introduction of factors, set out in collaboration with the institutions that will promote management objectives baring in mind the educational demand and quality indicators.

The investment in internationalization with the approval of the new access system to higher education for international students and the launch of the portal “Study in Portugal”, will allow the Portuguese higher education institutions to reinforce the development of cooperation strategies that will highlight the qualities of our country.

This document aims to present a set of proposals and initiatives that encourage the ongoing construction of higher education with greater participation and quality.

José Ferreira Gomes
Secretary of state for Higher Education