The Polytechnic Higher Education Sector in Portugal

  • José Brites Ferreira
  • Maria de Lourdes Machado
  • Rui Santiago
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 23)

The higher education system in Portugal has been reformed over recent decades. For many reasons, Portuguese higher education continues to receive attention in the educational political agenda and it seems reasonable to expect this will continue in the coming years.

Higher education (HE) in Portugal is a binary system, organized into universities and polytechnic institutes. From the time of the creation of a binary system in 1973 until today, many things have transpired in Portugal. First, there was the democratic revolution in 1974, and then the real institutionalisation of the binary system in 1977. In 1986, some months after Portugal’s entry into the European Union, the Education Act consolidated the binary system. More recently, the Bologna Process is exercising influence and largely determining the political agenda of HE. Among other things, it is presenting a challenge to the binary system.

This chapter has several objectives. First, we will present some perspective on the Portuguese HE system, explaining how it evolved and developed into the current binary system with the creation of polytechnic institutes. Second, we will provide a picture of the governing structure and organization of polytechnic institutes. Third, we will examine and critically discuss their levels of autonomy. Finally, we will highlight some trends about future developments and challenges for the polytechnic institutes within the environment of the Portuguese HE system.


High Education High Education Institution Polytechnic Institute High Education System External Stakeholder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Brites Ferreira
    • 1
  • Maria de Lourdes Machado
    • 2
  • Rui Santiago
    • 3
  1. 1.CIPES and Polytechnic University of LeiriaPortugal
  2. 2.CIPES and Polytechnic Institute of BragancaPortugal
  3. 3.University of AveiroPortugal

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