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Sub-sector best prospects: Include the sub-sectors in which U.S. companies would have the best opportunity of exporting.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

2252-7100 x7371  
Capital: Lisbon
Population: 10,302,674 (July 2020 est.)
GDP: 314.1 Billion USD (2017 est., Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency: Euros (EUR)
Language: Portuguese (official)

UNESCO Student Mobility Number:
Portugal has 14,309 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:
24.52% of the Portuguese population is under 24 years of age.


The education system in Portugal suffered significant changes since it became regulated back in 1986. The last major reform was the redefining of the degree system according to the Bologna Process, where Portugal is one of the signatory nations.  The Portuguese higher education system is currently a three-cycle system with a network of more than 40 public and 92 private higher education institutions. 
According to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, there were 973 students from Portugal studying in the United States, an increase of 3.8% percent compared with the previous year. This represents an 11% percent increase since 2014, which is remarkable and namely due to Portugal’s economic recovery since it successfully exited its three-year bailout program in June 2014. This year’s increase in student mobility to the U.S. is also significant because the proportion of the Portuguese population between the ages of 15-24 has been declining over the past ten years.
In 2018/19 students from Portugal in the United States primarily enrolled at the undergraduate level with 50.5 percent, followed by the graduate level with 28.3 percent.  Students pursuing optional practical training account for 12.8 percent and the remainder 8.4 enrolled in non-degree programs such as English language or short-term studies.  An important note is the 38.9 percent increase of Portuguese students pursuing non-degree programs and a 12.1 percent decrease of those seeking optional practical training compared with the previous year. 

Portuguese students are actively seeking study abroad opportunities, and many take full advantage of the European Union’s Erasmus program for exchanges within Europe.  Portuguese students highly value educational opportunities in non-EU countries, namely the United States.  Portugal is presently an important recruiting destination because the country attracts international students from all over the world. 

Portuguese students are primarily attracted to these types of U.S. programs: 

•    U.S. universities and community colleges
•    Undergraduate, Graduate and Master Programs 
•    Summer camps 
•    OPT


To effectively enter the Portuguese market, it is highly recommended that U.S. schools consider the following strategies:

1.    Seek partnerships or agreements with public or private universities to facilitate joint-programs and exchange programs for students and faculty;
2.    Participate in local recruitment fairs, trade missions, and outreach events, as well as meet face to face school counselors and other stakeholders.

It is also recommendable that U.S. schools provide clear and in-depth information about programs and the application processes, as well as describe opportunities of scholarships and financial aid. 


•    Futurália, March 25-28, 2020 (Lisbon), http://futuralia.fil.pt/
•    Study Abroad Portugal, March 7 in Porto and March 8 in Lisbon


•    Fulbright Commission Portugal, http://www.fulbright.pt/
•    Portuguese National Council of Education, http://www.cnedu.pt
•    Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities, http://www.crup.pt/
•    Portuguese Polytechnic Institutes Coordinating Council, http://www.ccisp.pt
•    Portuguese Association of Private Higher Education, http://www.apesp.pt/
•    Portuguese Foundation of Science and Technology, http://www.fct.pt/apoios/


Ana Vila – Education Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Lisbon, Portugal
+351 217 702 532