6 Best Universities in Portugal for International Students

//6 Best Universities in Portugal for International Students

Portugal is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for international students who wish to study abroad. The country is most known for its rich tapestry of culture and history as well as the stunning scenery. But this does not constitute all the pretty strong advantages that Portugal has to offer to its prospective students. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Portugal for international students.

Tuition fees and the cost of living in Portugal are considered to be lower than most European countries. At an average, a single academic year’s fees are around $1500 USD and the cost of living is a maximum of $900 USD per month. A majority of the universities in Portugal offer comprehensive education so students have access to multiple courses and fields of study. Students interested in polytechnic education also have the option of choosing a more focused institution for studies. Furthermore, Portuguese universities also use the ACTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) option which enables students to study across more than one European institution of higher education if they are interested.

Coupled with the country’s beautiful environment that ranges from the coastal belts to the mountains, the iconic Mediterranean climate as well as the rich culture that the cities offer, prospective international students have access to an enriching experience during their studies. In this article, we have compiled a list of universities in Portugal that offer the best in terms of education and experience for prospective students. We hope the descriptions will give you a firm idea of what this country can give to you!


Best Universities in Portugal for International Students

1. University of Lisbon

The University of Lisbon is the largest university in Portugal and is based in the capital of Lisbon. Its history dates back several centuries back into the late 1200s but it gained its status as a university through a merger in 2013 between the the Technical University of Lisbon and the original University of Lisbon. Currently, this elite university provides education for over 45,000 students which makes it one of the largest by student enrolment in Western Europe. Academically composed of 18 schools of study, the Ulisboa offers a series of around 400 degrees and courses of study for its students. A wide majority of these programs are taught in English for its international student community. To this end, the university annually welcomes over 1,000 foreign students on an annual basis. With the university’s location in the city of Lisbon, students are exposed to the rich Portuguese culture and society. Coupled with its pleasant coastal climate and the iconic Portuguese hospital, the university is definitely a tempting choice for the prospective international student!


2. University of Porto

Located in the iconic city of Porto, the second largest city of Portugal, the University of Porto is another prestigious institution of higher education. The university was founded in 1911 and provides education for around 30,000 students. Of this cohort, approximately 13% of the students are of foreign nationality and come from over 100 countries. Today, it consists of 15 schools and academic departments of study that are spread through 3 main campuses. A total of around 600 courses and degrees are provided for undergraduate and postgraduate students. In addition, the university’s numerous international partnerships further offer exchange programs that open up a prospective student’s study options. Therefore, the University of Porto is considered to be one of the top universities in Portugal for international students. Research and development work have developed throughout the years and the university’s scientific edge has increased with the establishment of 50 world-class research institutions. Furthermore, the city of Porto is one of the most scenic cities in the country with its characteristic Baroque architecture. Its numerous employment opportunities and global reputation help assist the university’s high graduate employment rates. Currently, the university is ranked among the top 10 Portuguese universities as well as among the top 300 universities in the world based on the ARU rankings.


3. Catholic University of Lisbon

The Catholic University of Lisbon (commonly known as the USP or Catolica) is a university located in Lisbon. It is the only institution of higher education in the country that is not primarily run by the government but has a concordatary status with the Catholic Church. It was originally established in 1967 as a faculty of philosophical studies. Since then, the UCP has grown to a widespread university system with campuses in Lisbon as well as in Beiras, Porto and Braga. With a student community of around 11,000, the UCP is academically composed of 18 faculties and departments of study. Among the many faculties, perhaps the most renowned and prestigious one is the Catolica Lisbon School of Business and Economics; this business school happens to be the best in Portugal as well as ranked 25th in Europe. Its most selective and elite program is the ‘Lisbon’ MBA which offers a one year MBA in partnership with the MIT Sloan School of Management. In addition, the university attracts almost 1000 foreign students annually through its Erasmus exchange program. With over 50% of the student body as well as staff of foreign nationality, it truly speaks to the university’s international atmosphere.


4. Polytechnic Institute of Braganza

Located in the city of Bragança in the northeast of Portugal is the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança which is a small public institution of higher education. Despite what its name suggests, the institute offers comprehensive education across a range of degrees and courses of study. This university in Portugal for international students was established in 1983 and has since grown to become a highly ranked polytechnic institute with a student population of over 7000 in total. Furthermore, the university has a high reputation for international students and a large percentage of nearly 30% of the student community consists of students of foreign nationality. It runs an internationalization program to promote this inclusion as well as offering numerous Bachelors and Masters programs in English. Foreign students who wish to study Portuguese language and culture also have the option of selecting such courses. The institute’s membership with the European Network for Universities of Applied Sciences introduces a research-oriented and applied studies edge to the education offered. This enables its students to have a well-rounded educational experience during their degree period.


5. University of Coimbra

Known for being one of the oldest universities in the world in continuous operation, the University of Coimbra is an elite public university located in the city of Coimbra that was established in 1290. Its original seat was in Lisbon before it was shifted to Coimbra. The university currently provides education for around 25,000 students and is academically organized into 8 different faculties. Education is comprehensive and spans across the humanities, social science, medicine, law, engineering, technology and sports. Research plays a novel role in its academic foundation and the university is a founding member of the prestigious Coimbra group of universities. The university further has an outstandingly high international student community of more than 10%, making it one of the top universities in Portugal for international students. The city of Coimbra itself is colored by the active traditions carried out by the university; its students’ association is the oldest in the country and organizes some of the most vibrant student festivals such as the ‘Qualia das Fitas’ and the ‘Festa das Latas’.


6. University of Aveiro

The final university on our list of top universities in Portugal for international students is the University of Aveiro. It is a public university founded in 1973. Located in the city of Aveiro, the university is a prestigious institution that provides for a student community of nearly 12,000. Academically, the university is composed of multiple academic departments of schools which collectively offer a comprehensive range of Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs. However, Aveiro’s primary focus is on polytechnic education and it has a strong research and development edge; this is emphasized by the numerous research units that run together with academic studies. Some of the key areas of strength are in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, bioinformatics, and robotics. In addition to the university’s main campus in Averie, it further operates regional offices and campuses in two other areas of the country, namely Águeda and Oliveira de Azemeis, each of which run specific departments. The University of Aveiro is currently ranked among the top 500-600 universities (based on the ARWU, Times and QS rankings). It is a common and popular choice for Erasmus exchange students and boasts a strong international student community.


I hope that this article on the best universities in Portugal for international students was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Category!