8 Cheap Universities in Portugal for International Students

//8 Cheap Universities in Portugal for International Students

Portugal is known worldwide for many aspects of its history and culture. You probably already know Cristiano Ronaldo and his great soccer skills, but Portugal also has more than 20 World Heritage sites, excellent seafood and wines, and stunning beaches. Along with this, they’ve managed to develop one of the best education systems in the world, and this includes universities. In this article, we will be looking at the cheap universities in Portugal.


The Higher Education System of Portugal

Portugal has hundreds of years of tradition regarding higher education, with one of the oldest universities in the world that goes back to 1290.

Higher education institutions are divided in two groups: universities, both private and public, and polytechnic institutes, which combined make 108 educational entities.

Portugal has 16 public universities with very affordable tuition that grant bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees. Polytechnics also grant bachelor degrees but are more vocational oriented and studies generally last for three years.

Bachelor degree curriculums at universities last from three to four years or have between 180 and 240 credits. There’s also an integrated option that lasts from five to six years in which students can get both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

In case you are interested in studying here, Portuguese universities have obtained a great reputation around the world. That’s why they currently host over 30,000 international students from almost 200 countries, a number that has doubled in recent years.


The Admissions Process for International Students

Besides the specific admissions process of each university, international students that aren’t EU citizens will have to validate their secondary education diplomas through the Minister of Education. They will also have to get a student visa, have health insurance coverage, and pay any visa fees.

Most universities suggest starting the visa process at least three months in advance.

Some universities belong to a special admission contest for international students through which those within the International Student Statute (ISS) can apply.

In the case of master or doctorate degrees, international students must have a university diploma in the same area and are recommended to have previous work experience.


English vs. Portuguese: The Language of Instruction at Portuguese Universities

As each year the number of international students, universities have included courses and some degree programs in English. So, you’ll be able to complete your studies in English.

However, the number of programs in English is limited. If you want to pursue a major taught in Portuguese, universities require a B1 or B2 level of Portuguese. Most of them offer language courses for international students or ask you to submit a language certificate.


Tuition Fees of Portuguese Universities

Although the higher education system in Portugal is not free, it is very affordable. The Minister of Education sets a minimum rate for tuition fees each year, which currently is 1.3 times Portugal’s minimum wage.

As you can imagine, tuition fees at most universities are above this minimum price. Depending on the university, prices vary between 700 EUR (around 780 USD) to 5,000 EUR (around 5,600 USD) per year.

We suggest you to also check private universities because some of them offer discounts to students that achieved academic excellence.

They also offer scholarships and grants to international students even if they aren’t EU-citizens, so make sure to check them out if you need financial aid!


Living Costs in Portugal for International Students

Portugal is also very affordable in terms of living costs. If you go to one of the bigger cities like Lisbon, the capital city, or Oporto, renting a one-bedroom apartment will cost you around 600 EUR (around 680 USD), but you’ll pay around 400 EUR (around 450 USD) in the outskirts. Universities also have student residencies where prices go from 150 EUR (around 170 USD) to 300 EUR (around 340 USD) per month.

Regarding food, monthly groceries would cost around 200 EUR (225 USD). When eating outside, meals will go from 7 EUR (8 USD) to 20 EUR (23 USD), and cafeterias at universities offer meals from 2 EUR (2,25 USD) to 4 EUR (4,50 USD) approximately. In the case of transportation, the cost of the monthly pass is of 34 EUR (38 USD).

During your free time, you can visit one of the many touristic places in Portugal. The Algarve is known for having great beaches which are perfect for surfers. Oporto, a city famous for its wine and architecture, has many towers, cloisters, churches, and restaurants you can visit.

Coimbra is a small old city with cathedrals and cobbled streets where you can take a walk. And lastly, Lisbon, the perfect place for those who love the city atmosphere and nightlife.


Cheap Universities in Portugal

1. University of Lisbon (ULisboa)

The University of Lisbon (ULisboa) is the largest university in Portugal and has consistently ranked as the best one in the country. This cheap university in Portugal was founded in 2013 after two universities were merged together: the Technical University of Lisbon (established in 1930) and the former University of Lisbon (established in 1911).

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, it was between the 401 and the 500 best in the world (2017), and according to the QS World University Rankings, it was de 305th best worldwide (2018).

ULisboa welcomes more than 50,000 students each year. Around 7,000 of them are international students that come from more than 100 countries. 3,600 of those international students are regular, and the rest participate in an exchange program.

It has 18 schools, 13 museums, 82 research groups, over 50 libraries, and three botanic gardens. They also have 19 residencies and there are vacancies reserved for international students, so ask about it once you are accepted.

Non-EU citizens will have to follow the admissions process mentioned above. If you come from a country with which Portugal has a health agreement, you’ll have access to the public health system of the country. Tuition fees depend on the major. They go from 3,000 EUR (around 3,350 USD) to 7,000 EUR (around 7,800 USD) per year. This tuition fee in the University of Lisbon is affordable compared to universities in Western countries. Visit their admissions page to learn more!


2. University of Porto

The University of Porto was established in 1911 and is known for its excellence in the scientific and research fields. That’s the reason why it is among the top 200 European Universities.

It has 14 faculties and one business school that offer 34 bachelor degree programs, 18 integrated master degree programs, and over 200 master and doctoral degree programs.

This affordable university in Portugal also has 49 research centers, 16 libraries, 4 sports facilities, and 12 museums. They receive around 4,500 international students each year, and there are 9 residencies for 1,200 students.

To learn about the admissions process here, visit their admissions section. EU citizens pay the same tuition fees as Portuguese students, which are of 871 EUR (around 980 USD) per year. Non-EU citizens (ISS students) have to pay 3,000 EUR (around 3,350 USD) for bachelor degree programs. Those who come from countries of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) may receive a discount of up to 50%.


3. University of Minho (UMinho)

The University of Minho (UMinho) was established in 1973 and is another institution known for its excellence in the scientific field.

UMinho has 12 schools and institutes were 20,000 students are educated each year. Around 2,500 of them are international students.

They are also famous for their extracurricular activities. The university holds 500 cultural events each year, it has one orchestra, one technology and science park, and it is known as the most active university in Europe in the sports area (2017).

Along with undergraduate and graduate degree programs, the university also offers a wide variety of courses called “specialized training courses” for those who already have a bachelor’s degree.

UMinho has three campuses: one in Braga, one in Couros, and one in Guimarães, which are very affordable cities.

Annual tuition fees depend on the major and go from 4,500 EUR (around 5,000 USD) to 6,500 EUR (around 7,250 USD). To learn more about admissions, click here and here.


4. University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL)

Founded in 1972, the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE IUL) offers 86 degree programs to the 9,000 students that attend the university each year. 22% of them are international students that come from 86 countries.

They focus on community service and research activities. Only in 2017, they made 1,536 scientific publications.

ISCTE-IUL has student residencies available. Monthly rent goes from 175 EUR (around 200 USD) to 250 EUR (around 300 USD).

To learn about the admissions process, click here. This cheap university in Portugal specify all the requirements and deadlines, and explain the cases in which you may be exempted from paying international tuition fees.

Regarding tuition fees, they go from 5,500 EUR (around 6,200 USD) to 7,000 EUR (around 7,800 USD) and can be paid through bank transfer or PayPal. Application fees are of 65,00 EUR (75 USD) and registration fees are of 30,00 EUR (34 USD).


5. University of Algarve

The University of Algarve was established in 1979 after two universities emerged and now the faculties and schools of both co-exist in the campus. These universities were the Polytechnic Institute of Faro and the former University of Algarve. The University of Algarve is considered to be one of the cheapest universities in Portugal.

The university has three faculties, four schools and a department of biomedical sciences and medicine. It has almost 10,000 students that are enrolled in one of the 143 degree programs. 56 of them are bachelor degree programs.

If you’d like to enroll in a bachelor degree program, you’ll have to learn Portuguese. In this university, English programs are only available for the master and doctorate levels.

As for tuition fees, they go from 3,000 EUR (around 3,350 USD) to 4,000 EUR (around 4,500 USD). Students that have the highest grades will receive a discount of 1,100 EUR (around 1,250 USD). Visit their admissions page to learn more.


6. University of the Azores

The University of the Azores was established in 1976 and is located in an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. It has three campuses throughout the islands that belong to the Archipelago of the Azores. These are the Horta Campus (the main one), in Faial, the Ponta Delgada campus in St. Miguel Island, and Angra do Heoísmo campus in Terceira.

This cheap university in Portugal has four faculties and two superior schools that receive around 4,200 students each year. It also has two residencies. Monthly rent goes from 76,26 EUR (85 USD) to 260,00 EUR (290 USD).

They are affiliated with over 500 research centers and universities worldwide.

In order to enroll, international students will have to participate in the Special Admission Competition for International Students. You may have to take the Portuguese national entrance exam depending on your situation.

Tuition fees go from 3,000 EUR (around 3,350 USD) to 4,000 EUR (around 4,500 USD). They also offer an integrated master degree in pharmaceutical sciences that lasts for 5 years. Learn more by visiting their website.


7. Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alton (UTAD)

The Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alton (UTAD) was established in 1968 after the transformation of the former Polytechnic University of Vila Real, which became today’s UTAD.

The objective of the creation of UTAD was to address the situation in the fields that didn’t have enough professionals in Portugal. That’s why they offer 40 bachelor degree programs in areas like agronomic engineering, biomedical engineering, environmental sciences, landscape architecture, tourism, enology, among others. They also offer an integrated master’s degree in veterinary medicine that lasts for five years.

It has campuses located in Vila Real (the main one), Chaves, and Miranda do Douro. It also has nine research centers and a Museum of Geology.

All programs taught here are in Portuguese, so international students must have a B1 Portuguese language level or enroll in the Portuguese Language Preparatory Course.

In order to be admitted, students must pass a matching exam and submit the documents required. Tuition fees for international students are of 1,500 EUR (around 1,700 USD) per year for all the majors. To learn more, visit their international page.


8. Polytechnic of Leiria

The Polytechnic of Leiria was established in 1980. It has four campuses in Leiria, Peniche, Caldas da Rainha, and Marinha Grande. It also has 15 research centers, four libraries, and a research institute. Polytechnic of Leiria is one of the cheapest universities in Portugal with tuition fees just over $1,000 a year.

It also has 108 degree programs. 63 of them are bachelor degree programs. 4 of them are distance learning programs.

They receive more than 1,300 international students and are affiliated with more than 350 institutions worldwide. The average tuition fees are of 1,150 EUR (around 1,300 USD) per year. Click here to learn more about the admissions process! And visit their international page to get more information.


I hope that this article on the cheap universities in Portugal was informative. If you are interested, visit the cheap tuition category!