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Higher Education

The higher education sector includes public and private institutions, at university and polytechnic levels, spread throughout the country.

Public universities are organised under the Council of Rectors of the Portuguese Universities (CRUP) and the public polytechnics are organised under the Coordinating Council of the Higher Polytechnic Institutes (CCISP), while private higher education institutions are represented by the Association of Private Higher Education (APESP). Students are organised and represented within the bodies of the higher education system.

The education programmes offered by the higher education institutions (HEIs) are independently assessed and accredited by the Agency for the Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES), guaranteeing levels of quality of the programmes of the three cycles of study (bachelor – diploma, masters, doctorate).

The General-Directorate for Higher Education (DGES) coordinates information concerning the higher education system, the access and admission to higher education, promotes de mobility of Portuguese higher education students across the European area, and manages the Social Action Fund and other higher education social services.

For detailed information access Study in Portugal.

Research, Innovation, Communication, Cooperation


The research system has as its main funding agency the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), which funds doctoral fellowships, scientific employment contracts, research projects, research units, associate and collaborative laboratories, research infrastructures and international research cooperation, through international research assessment practices and panels.

Research at universities and polytechnics is mostly organised through dedicated R&D units, organised thematically. In some cases R&D units may be configured as Associated Laboratories, typically of larger size and with a public service mission following a specific assessment process and dedicated funding. R&D units may also be part of Collaborative Laboratories in partnership with business firms and other stakeholders.



The National Innovation Agency (ANI) promotes knowledge transfer and enhances the cooperation between enterprises and the research and knowledge production institutions, with dedicated funding. ANI also promotes the participation of the national S&T System and of national companies in the Research & Innovation international networks, strengthens business investment in R&I, and fosters a social environment which favours technological entrepreneurship.

IAPMEI is the main body, in the Ministry of the Economy, with the mission to promote the competitiveness and enterprise growth, to enhance innovation, entrepreneurship and industrial invesment.


Science and Society

Ciência Viva is the agency with the mission to promote the wide access to scientific culture for a complete experience of citizenship, organising activities with and for the general public, and, in particular, activities with children and schools. FCT participates in both ANI and Ciência Viva.


International cooperation and the Framework Programme

The international research cooperation programmes include bilateral programmes with different countries worldwide, the participation in international research infrastructures (such as CERN or the European Space Agency), a dedicated programme of international partnerships with selected American Universities (Carnegie-Mellon University, MIT, University of Texas at Austin) as well as other international partnerships, including within the scope of EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme and the consolidation of the European Research Area. The Office for Promoting the EU Framework Programme (GPPQ) is dedicated to promote the participation in the Horizon 2020 Programme (and in the future Horizon Europe Framework Programme).



The funding for research and innovation activities (including those mentioned above) is strongly supported by EU’s Structural Funds Programmes. These funds are managed through the Ministry of Planning and Infrastructure, and partly also delivered through Regional Operational Programmes, managed by the Regional Coordinating and Development Commissions (North, Centre, Lisbon, Alentejo and Algarve) as well as the Autonomous Regions of Açores and Madeira. Other private organisations, such as the Gulbenkian Foundation, may also provide some research funding opportunities.


Other Ministries

Other ministries are in charge of research activities under their respective sectors (health, defence, agriculture), which are developed mostly through sectoral State Laboratories.

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