Just as universities report student enrolment is up this year, particularly in the Algarve, Regional Development Minister Miguel Poiares Maduro announced that Portuguese higher education establishments will soon be able to apply for European Union funding to help them “go international”.
Not only will universities be able to apply for EU funds to attract foreign students and teachers, the Portuguese government is also working on a “talent visa” for international whizz-kids. Exact details of what the “talent visa” will offer future applicants are still unknown.
“The internationalisation of higher education brings many economic advantages,” said Poiares Maduro. “It is one of the export areas that is growing the most in the world and Portugal can offer attractive options for students, both Portuguese and foreign.”
Speaking about the “talent visas”, the minister said that “(foreign) talent is very important as it means investment in human capital, which in turn means more competitiveness for Portugal”.
The announcement came on September 23, as Poiares Maduro, alongside Education Minister Nuno Crato, presented a study entitled ‘A Strategy for the Internationalisation of Portugal’s Higher Education’.
Universities have been asked to send their “ideas” by October 31 so that they can be discussed at the Council of Ministers with a view to helping the government draft new legislation.
However, university officials have already warned that Portugal is still not in the same league as other countries.
“There is still a long road ahead before we can compete with other universities that have been attracting foreign students for 20 or 30 years,” said the president of the Portuguese Board of Deans (CRUP) António Rendas.
Meantime, the number of students enrolled in university courses in Portugal this year has increased, with the University of the Algarve (UALG) registering the biggest growth of all institutions in the country, with an 18 percentage point increase compared to the last school year.
Data from Portugal’s directorate-general of higher education (DGES) shows that, on average, enrolment rates increased five percentage points in 2014, meaning that UALG is 13 points above the national average.
There were also considerable increases in the number of students who selected UALG as their first choice during the first phase of admissions (+14%) and the second (+32%).
The number of vacancies has also dropped 46% from 678 in 2013 to 366 this year. Furthermore, the number of courses with all vacancies filled has increased from seven to 20, which signifies a better selection of course options for students.
According to the University of the Algarve rector, António Branco, “these results confirm that the UALG is being picked as the first option by an increasing number of students”.
Lisbon’s Universidade Nova makes “world’s best list”
Lisbon’s Universidade Nova has made it onto the top-50 list of the world’s best universities established in the last 50 years.
In 36th place, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, founded in 1973 and the “youngest” of the capital’s three state universities, was the only Portuguese institution to feature on the ranking, which is based on the highest-performing young institutions in the QS World University Rankings.
British publishers behind the ranking say that the idea is to “shine a spotlight on universities making an impact at international level in a relatively short space of time, having rapidly established strong global reputations, research clout and internationally diverse academic communities”.
Diogo Fernandes, a geography student at Universidade Nova, told The Resident that it is indeed “a great university” and that he is “very proud” to be studying there, although he feels some renovations are required to bring the university in line with its new “world’s best” status.
Photo: Regional Development Minister Miguel Poiares Maduro