Portugal Education Sector
Portuguese students are actively seeking study abroad opportunities in the United States.
The education system in Portugal went through 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 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, there were 937 students from Portugal studying in the United States, an increase of 0.9% percent compared with the previous year. This represents a 6% percent increase since 2014, which is remarkable and namely due to Portugal’s economic recovery after successfully exiting 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, 50.5 percent of students from Portugal in the United States enrolled at the undergraduate level , followed by the graduate level with 28.3 percent. Students pursuing optional practical training (OPT) 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 14.7 percent increase in Portuguese students pursuing optional practical training as compared with the previous year. The report also found the number of U.S. students studying abroad increased 23.7 percent, from 693 to 857 in 2017-18.
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.
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