For those looking into studying in Portugal, or in any other foreign country, it is best to look not just at the education system of that country, but at the country itself as well. Nowadays, Portugal is mostly known for being a tourist hot spot, with amazing beaches and great weather. But Portugal’s history is rich and dates as far back as the 9th Century, not counting the traditions of Lusitânia, during the Roman period.
Portugal was founded by D. Afonso Henriques during the 12th Century, who turned the county he inherited from his father, D. Henrique, into a full-fledged kingdom by wrestling it back from the Moors during the Reconquista. Portugal had a huge influence during the Age of Discoveries, where it made several technological advances, discovered new sea routes and new lands, and eventually carved out an Empire that would, however, fall apart a few centuries later.
The westernmost European country, Portugal consists of Mainland or Continental Portugal (part of the Iberian peninsula, alongside Spain) and the two archipelagos of Madeira and Azores (Açores). Portugal is small, with a total area of 92212 km2, and is bordered by Spain in the North and East, the Atlantic Ocean to the West and the Mediterranean Sea to the South. The country possesses an extensive waterfront, and several high-quality beaches, not to mention the beautiful fields and mountains of the interior. The Algarve region, in the South, is particularly appreciated by natives and foreigners alike. Portugal attracts not only students and tourists, but also immigrants. These are typically from Portuguese-speaking countries, but more recently there has also been an influx of Eastern-Europeans.
Ever since freeing themselves from dictatorship in 1974, the Portuguese have been slowly climbing the ranks. Economy, science and education, for example, have greatly improved, especially during the last few years. However, a Euro, the currency in Portugal as in many countries of the EU, will still stretch more than in some other nations. Current tuition fees for Portuguese universities are around 1000€ a year, and Portugal does have great universities, like the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa or the University of Porto, not forgetting the University of Coimbra, which dates back to 1290, one of the oldest universities in Europe and the oldest one in Portugal. In those days, only a chosen few were able to enter the university, but in modern times it is much more open, with the state even granting some funds to particular students. Integrated in the EU and the Bologna Process, Portugal is becoming more and more an attractive place for students to come and develop their studies, or even find employment in the budding technological sector, for instance. Recent cooperation agreements with the MIT and other North American institutions further emphasize Portugal’s commitment to improve.
Portugal combines many features, like geography and climate, history and culture, economy and education, and even sport (football is “the king sport” and names like Eusébio, Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo are world-famous) to become a place where students can come to study and be successful, while enjoying an enriching life experience.