Implementation of the plan

Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit

Table of Contents

Portugal is an amazing country, with its own customs, beautiful nature, wonderful places. Every year thousands of tourists from Russia flock here to enjoy the ocean, relax and just have fun. But the country attracts our compatriots not only as a tourist destination, where you can spend an unforgettable vacation. Portugal – a country of unlimited opportunities and excellent prospects. And it is not just about the possibility of making money. Many migrants from the former Soviet Union move here to get higher education. It is worth noting that the education system here is quite loyal to foreign students, and the Portuguese diploma is valued all over the world. Having obtained it, you can count on a prestigious job in any country of the Schengen zone. And this, you must agree, offers good prospects for young professionals.

the ultimate guide to moving into the life of your dreams

Friends, today we’re going to share with you the most precious things. We have a book in which we’ve gathered all the experiences we’ve gained during our years of living in beautiful Portugal.

In this book you will find:

– Information about the cost of living in Portugal, allowing you to “get a price tag”;

– Where to start the moving process;

– What are the options for applying for residency in Portugal and how to decide which one is best;

– Step-by-step process of collecting and submitting documents;

Today, Anna Grinh shares her story with us. She is almost through her studies in Portugal. Today she is finishing her master’s degree, dreams of a bright future and has even managed to get some interesting offers for further employment in Portugal. Anna told our blog readers about her impressions and observations. We are confident that her experience will serve as an example, will inspire someone, and will prove that nothing is impossible. The main thing is to want it badly and to strive with all your might to make your dreams come true.

Higher education institutions in Portugal
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 13

Children’s Dream

When I was a little girl I found myself immersed in the wonderful world of Brazilian TV series,” begins Anna. – That’s when I realized I wanted to be like the main characters, live by the ocean. Of course, then it was a girlish dream, but it was that time was the starting point, from which I began to recount his way to move to Portugal. However, I did not share my dreams with anyone. Once I tried to tell my mother that I dreamed of living in Portugal, to which she replied skeptically that no one was waiting for me there, and that in general I was not thinking about it.

In general, my life went on, I went to school, studied, socialized with friends. And at the same time I was studying Portuguese in secret. It was not easy, there were no such opportunities as now. But I found ways, even then I had an old computer, which always hung up, and Internet, which worked on a landline. So as not to occupy the line, I surfed the Internet at night when everyone was asleep. I found some online tutorials, looked for translators, tried to memorize as many Portuguese words as I could. And I must say I was pretty good at it. I think my childish perseverance played a big part in what I am doing now.

In the 10th grade my parents gave me a tablet for studying. That’s when I got my hands on all the information I needed. The first thing I did was to take free Portuguese courses online. I absorbed the information like a sponge. At the same time I joined Portuguese forum and started communicating with Portuguese my peers. Every day I became more and more convinced that I wanted to go there.

One day my parents brought up the subject of my further education and even hinted that it would be nice if I continued the family tradition and became a doctor. Oh, how I dreaded this conversation. But I knew that the sharper I ripped the band-aid off, the less painful it would be for all of us.

So in the same breath I blurted out that I wanted to go to Portugal, and got ready to listen to the tirade. But, much to my surprise, there was none. My mom said she was ready for this conversation, and suggested we just put it off until the weekend to think about it and come to a common denominator.

You have no idea how much I was looking forward to the weekend. I even made a list of the benefits of a Portuguese education. But I didn’t even need it. My mom brought it up herself at dinner. She said that she and my father had been saving up for my education and were willing to accept my every decision and help in any way they could.

From that moment my life changed dramatically. Dreams became reality. Now I had to do the right thing. And I have to say a huge thank you to my parents for supporting me and making my decision. Somehow my mom managed to find a tutor with whom I studied three times a week. By the way, she said that my knowledge was pretty good, so self-study paid off, too.

When I went to 11th grade, my mom said she found a counseling agency that would help us with our paperwork and tell us what we needed to do. Within a week we went there for a consultation. Well, then my life has been like a fairy tale, at least it seemed to me so.

Briefly about Portuguese education
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 14

Briefly about Portuguese education

Living in Portugal for a while, I can make some conclusions and share them with readers. I hope that my experience will be useful to someone. So the first thing to mention is that there are a lot of Dual Degree programs in Portugal. The fact is that the country has long-standing ties with the United Kingdom. This opens up a lot of additional opportunities and good prospects for students.

As for the language of instruction, there is a choice of studying in English or Portuguese. In the first case the tuition is almost three times higher, and the progress is much less. Therefore, it is more advantageous to study in Portuguese, there are more choices. It is also worth noting that the leadership of the higher education often makes good discounts for foreign students for good performance. And there are enough state grant programs in the country, everyone can try his or her hand and take part in them.

It is possible to enter a bachelor’s degree in higher education in Portugal after 11th grade. There are certain language requirements, it must be at B1-B2 level. However, be prepared that some universities require a certificate of language courses. This is not the case everywhere, but such a prospect exists.

Yes, another important point. Before you submit your admission documents, you must have them legalized, otherwise the documents will not be accepted. What does this mean? The originals should be apostilled by the Ministry of Education. After that, submit the certificate or diploma to a certified translation agency to have the documents translated into Portuguese. The translated papers will then be certified by the Ministry of Justice.

The course runs from September (sometimes October) to May/June, with summer vacations from June to September respectively. There are also two-week Easter and Christmas vacations. In Portuguese universities there are two semesters, just like in Russia.

admission requirements
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Incoming requirements

Till about 2007, I don’t remember exactly, Portugal had its own, different education system from what we’re used to. But then the country joined the Bologna Process. Today the system of degrees in Portugal is exactly the same as in most universities in the world, including Russia.

The Portuguese education system has three cycles of study. The first degree is the Licentiate, the second the Master’s and the third the PhD. This means any student from any other country can, if they wish, take a master’s degree from a Portuguese university if they have already completed a bachelor’s degree, regardless of which country they have studied in.

As far as high school graduates are concerned, they, like I did in my time, can take a bachelor’s degree in Portugal without any problem.

Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 16


Applying to study at a Portuguese university online. To do so, you must first assemble the entire package, which includes:

  • application form, pre-filled;
  • copy of passport;
  • Higher education certificate or other documents confirming the degree (it is better to ask about them in the specific university where you are going to enter);
  • confirmation of language skills
  • letter of motivation
  • recommendation letter;
  • sometimes an interview.
Depending on where exactly you want to apply, you may also have to take additional tests that are required for some programs. These may be physical, personality, athletic ability tests, and so on.

This is just a sample list of documents that are required for admission. In each particular university the list can be changed and supplemented, so it is better to find out everything in advance and to deal with this issue beforehand. As a rule, all information concerning admission, conditions, and documents can be found on the institution’s website, so look there in the first place.

advantages of higher education in Portugal
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 17

The advantages of higher education in Portugal

Personally, when I went to a Portuguese university, I didn’t think much about the advantages of studying in that country. I was just making my dream come true and I never regretted it once in my life. Already when I studied here, I began to understand how my decision was the right one in all senses of the word. So if we’re talking about the advantages of Portuguese higher education, the advantages are as follows.

  1. Low cost. I’m not comparing the price of education specifically to Russia, although even in our country it is not the cheapest. If we compare with universities in other European countries, we can say with confidence that studying in Portugal is much cheaper than, say, in Germany or France. And if you take into account the relatively low prices for food, accommodation, and even the opportunity to get a special training program with a discount, the picture is even rosier. I say that for the average CIS student studying in the Portuguese is very profitable.
  2. Loyal attitude. Foreign students in Portuguese universities are treated more than loyal. For example, not even all universities require proof of proficiency in the language. In many it is enough to have an interview, so that the management understands the level of your language skills. Sometimes it may be required to take language courses at the university in parallel with the main course. I personally know a couple of students from Russia who started in their home country to learn Portuguese and then continued here at the university. I also want to emphasize that there is more emphasis on creative and scientific activities. Of course, studying is important, and it is necessary to study. But the main thing is to prove yourself in practice. Especially promising students in the future can even help with finding a job and give excellent letters of recommendation. By the way, many students find jobs while they are still students, and in my opinion, it’s very cool!
  3. Career opportunities. As I said before, students not only gain theoretical knowledge but also practical skills. And I must admit that I pay special attention to practical skills. As a result, graduates are fully prepared for all the realities of life, which is why they are highly valued in the labor market, not only in Portugal, but also in other European countries.
These are the main advantages and opportunities of a Portuguese education. For me personally in this country there are many other pluses. For example the comfortable living conditions. It is equally good in winter and summer, there are no slushy overcast days, muddy snow on the pavement. It is always sunny and warm, at home cozy. The immediate proximity of the ocean adds a special inspiration and even high spirits. Even when I’m feeling depressed, I drive to the ocean, listen to the sound of the surf, watch the sunset… and it makes me feel inexpressibly light. The ocean charges me with strength, energy, positive emotions.

And I also love to travel. Always on my day off I try to go somewhere with friends. We have traveled all over the country and every time Portugal shows us something new.

Yes, I have a few more words to say about the local population. I have never met more friendly and open people than the Portuguese. And this is without exaggeration. They always smile, and in any situation are ready to help. I remember I had a case when I had just arrived to study. I went for a walk and got lost in the ramifications of the local streets. I did not know anyone here, did not have time to get acquainted with fellow students. No matter how hard I tried to find my way back, I couldn’t. I realized that I was getting farther and farther away. So, upset, with tears in my eyes, I went into a local store and explained to the owner that I was lost and didn’t know where to go. So, instead of just pointing the way, he closed the store and drove me to campus on his motorcycle. And there are plenty of stories like that. But that’s not what we’re talking about, I digress.

Degree legalization in Portugal
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 18

Legalization of diploma in Portugal

Many students wonder if the Portuguese diploma is valid in other countries, particularly in Russia. I was also interested in this question, and I started looking for an answer. As it turned out, Russia and Portugal have adopted a convention to simplify the legalization of diplomas. For this purpose it is enough to make an apostille. To enroll, a Russian student must translate his or her documents into Portuguese, and have them apostilled. This can be done at the Ministry of Education of Russia. This procedure is not free; I do not know exactly how much it costs, you should find out locally.

As for other countries the situation with the legalization of diplomas is even simpler. Since Portugal is part of the Bologna Process, qualifications from other countries are automatically recognized. If there are any difficulties, they can be resolved on the spot at the university.

Most in-demand professions
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 19

The most in-demand professions

It has been shown that one of the most in-demand areas of employment in Portugal is service. Around 70% of the population work in this field. It includes, among other things, tourism, healthcare, medicine, social sector, education. In second place is agriculture and manufacturing.

Do you need prep courses?
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 20

Do we need preparatory courses?

It’s no secret that in Russia, before entering a university, a prospective student usually takes preparatory courses at an educational institution. There are such preparatory programs here. They are designed for applicants who have graduated from school and plan to enter university. At these preparatory programs you can greatly improve your Portuguese and improve your specialized knowledge. You can easily adapt to the realities of the country and to the European educational system during the course. To enroll in the preparatory program, you need to prepare the following documents:

Preparatory program

  • certificate of complete secondary education with translation;
  • Certificate of basic knowledge of Portuguese
  • letter of motivation

In general, those who have completed pre-university courses have access to admission to the university of their choice. True, they do not guarantee that you get 100 percent of the admission. Documents need to be submitted at the same level as other students, no one makes any allowances.

Top universities
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 21

The best higher education institutions in Portugal

Like any other country, Portugal has many institutes, universities, among which there are more and less prestigious ones. According to many international publications, the most popular university in Portugal for many years has been the University of Porto. It was founded back in 1911. It is a very old educational institution with its own traditions and laws. There are more than 30,000 students, an impressive figure, you must agree. There are a lot of foreigners among them. I once read a statistic, according to it, about 20 % of foreign students study in Porto. That’s a lot. The university has 14 faculties. There is even a business school and an innumerable number of libraries, museums and laboratories. Of course, there are many people who want to study at the best institution in the country. That is why the selection process is quite rigid – they choose the best of the best. Although, as the rector assures, anyone can apply to the institute.

Another prestigious place is the University of Lisbon. It’s the second largest university in Portugal. The location of the institution is very convenient, in the very center of Lisbon. By the way, the first mentions of the university date back to the 13th century, and this is a fact the authorities are very proud of. The structure has five faculties. The University of Lisbon has three institutes and a school. There are laboratories, sports centers and museums. The quality of teaching in this institution is recognized the best in the world and so is its scientific potential.

benefits of Portugal for retirees
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 22

A little about scholarships

As I said before, every international student who studies at Portuguese above can qualify for a scholarship or grant. In order to do so, it is necessary to study the conditions and become a participant in one of the many programs that are in place in the country. The main condition is to have residence permit in the country. With this, as a rule, there are no problems, because everyone, who studies in Portugal, resides in the country legally.

After submitting the appropriate documents a special commission examines and studies the candidates and only after this it makes the appropriate decision. As a rule, during the consideration of applications such factors as family wealth are taken into consideration. It is obligatory to confirm it with corresponding bank statements of relatives.

It’s just as important for those considering a scholarship to prove themselves in their studies. What’s more, if you do well in school and, even better, if you are an honors student, you can count on special scholarships and grants.

It’s equally important to take part in research work. As I said, Portugal puts a lot of emphasis on practical skills, so there are always rewards for excellence in this field.

With regard to scholarships, they can be governmental or issued by independent foundations. Among the government ones, the most popular.

  • Bolsas de estudo. The size of the stipend can vary. The amount depends on the family’s wealth. The scholarship is given for one year, each month the amount of money goes to the student’s personal account.
  • Scholarships from the state Camoens Foundation. They are designed to promote the Portuguese language and are given to students who wish to learn the language.
  • FCT. This reward is given for research work. Before awarding the payment, the foundation reviews and examines the value of the research work, the relevance of its topic, the potential economic benefit, and many other factors. The stipend is given for one year, but can be renewed at a later date.Similarly, there are scholarships from all sorts of independent foundations. I will not list them all at this point, and, frankly, I do not know all of them. I will say one thing – every student can apply for scholarships. These can be either monthly payments or one-time grants. Whatever the case, these scholarships are a great help for students.

I, for example, received such a Bolsas de Merito scholarship once, too. Both local and international students can apply for it. And I have to admit, it is not only beneficial, but also very prestigious to get such a scholarship. I think many of my fellow students were jealous. Such monetary awards are given annually to the best of the best students. And I was lucky to be among them. The size of the allowance was equal to five minimum wages, and, as you understand, it is not a small amount. To receive an award, you need to prove yourself from the best side, to try, study hard, to pass a certain number of courses and prove your knowledge in practice. To do this, the average score of certain courses must be at least 16 points. After the awarding ceremony, I was also given a certificate that I received Bolsas de Merito. Also, the diploma will mention that I had this scholarship and I think this will play a role in my job search.

Part-time opportunity
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Wage Opportunity

Teachers are extremely accommodating of students pursuing part-time employment while studying. In fact, the university encourages it in every way possible. There are places right on campuses where you can go and they can help you get a part-time job.

There’s mostly studying in the morning. The second half, however, you can visit for yourself or a part-time job. In the first year I, of course, decided not to work anywhere, all my free time I spent studying. But in my second year I decided to try myself in a new role.

Future plans
Institutions of higher education in Portugal in 2021. How to enter a prestigious European university and obtain a residence permit 24

Future Plans

My studies will soon be over, and it’s a good time to think about what’s next. Of course, I can’t look into the future, as much as I’d like to, and see how my fate and my professional life are going to turn out. But there’s nothing against making plans, right?

I hate to break it all to you at once. But I’ll put it this way. I have no plans to go back to Russia, my priority is to stay in Portugal and find a job there. In the even more distant future – to start a family, have children. In general I associate my future only with Portugal.

I also have a secret to share. Right now I have received several interesting job offers from local employers. I won’t say what kind of company they are, but one thing I will say is that they are world-renowned. I am still thinking about which one to choose. I plan to work part-time for a while, and then to get a permanent job. The promise is good with both companies, so to be honest, I’m a bit confused.

Well, if by some reason I have to go back to my home country, I know I wouldn’t be lost there. Furthermore my degree in International Economics would be of great value in Russia, too. And I think the university administration will issue good recommendation letters.


*Материал отражает историю героя статьи в интерпретации автора; относительно описанных методов и процессов при получении ВНЖ – они могут не совпадать с реальным мнением редакции MoveToCascais по этому поводу. 

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