Students and their families are struggling to remain in Higher Education in Portugal. Image: Lusa
Students and their families are struggling to remain in Higher Education in Portugal. Image: Lusa

Students call for “more scholarships; more social support”

Lisbon Academic Association defends increased funding for higher education

With a new academic year looming, the Lisbon Academic Association (AAL) is calling for increased funding for higher education and changes to allow more students to have scholarships, more social support for university canteens and more rooms at controlled prices.

Diogo Martinho Henriques, president of AAL, which represents around 100,000 students in Greater Lisbon, warned today of the need to reform the funding of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to meet the needs of students.

“The education system cannot continue to be the poor relation of our society, because it is through this system that the country grows and develops”, he told Lusa.

According to AAL, there are “critical cases that range from the lack of teaching support materials, infrastructural problems to the lack of investment in research”, but there is also a lack of answers to “Mental Health problems, which grow day by day”.

Therefore, the association has put forward various proposals:

“Changing the eligibility threshold in the attribution of scholarships in Higher Education, defining criteria that take into account the reality of students, in order to increase the number of eligible students and thus reduce inequalities” is the cornerstone of measures.

Diogo Martins Henriques also asks for a reinforcement in the financing of HEIs, which together with the National Plan for Accommodation in Higher Education would “allow equal access to Higher Education.

“Promoting the financing of pedagogical innovation and development programmes so that, in parallel, they allow investment in the renovation of infrastructures and acquisition of school materials” is another ambition.

AAL accuses successive governments of “underfunding of Higher Education”, noting that in the last decade reinforcement was “only 17%”, i.e. ” below inflation”.

AAL’s push comes as the government reveals places on higher education courses, including those for students over the age of 23, come to a total of 75,676 this year.

Source material: LUSA