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Reasons to Study in Portugal: International Student Survey

By Tiina Niemi

Updated March 17, 2021 Updated March 17, 2021

International students rate Portugal as a very good study destination in Europe. Nearly 7,000 students commented on their study abroad experience on the world’s largest database of international student experiences, STeXX.eu , for the StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards 2014. More than 270 reviews were from students who had chosen to study in Portugal. Overall, Portugal was rated ninth in Europe, with an average grade of 8.9 out of 10. The results give rare insights about student impressions regarding studying and living in Portugal as an international student.

In a list of 11 awarded institutions, two top universities in Portugal received Certificates for Outstanding Student Satisfaction, with average ratings of 9.5 out of 10: the University of Aveiro and University of Coimbra. Three universities in Portugal were rated ”excellent”: ISCTE Business School – University Institute of Lisbon, Polytechnic Institute of Porto and the University of Porto. A further six universities in Portugal were considered “very good”.

Coast in Portugal
Reasons to study in Portugal

International students who have spent time studying in Portugal agree that locals’ attitude to foreigners is just as warm as the country’s weather. Almost all reviewers said they enjoyed the atmosphere in Portuguese cities and university campuses, and most were satisfied with the activities offered by universities, the nightlife and the parties. The beautiful beaches and easy lifestyle were also often mentioned as part of the positive experience.

Portugal is filled with culture and history, which most students really enjoyed exploring and experiencing. Students were also generally pleased with the low costs of studying in Portugal and the good quality of student accommodation. In addition, the friendly atmosphere encourages visitors to learn Portuguese by talking to native speakers. 

“Time flows slower there. Everything in Portugal is amazing: the pace of life, culture and habits of Portuguese people, cities and towns all over the country, beaches (especially in Algarve). Despite the fact that Lisbon is a European capital, one does not feel it. The city, surrounded by the river Tagus, is the most amazing one I've ever seen. The sun shines and reflects form white pavements, the ships are always visible on the horizon and people drink coffee on the streets... It's just one of a kind!” –student from Poland 

“Would like to recommend Portugal (Lisbon) to anyone who wants to experience a multicultural environment, who likes a lot of cultural diversity and events and who likes good food and their strangely beautiful language. And nevertheless, Lisboa as a city simply has soul!”– student from Slovenia 

“I would recommend the city because it has an amazing ambiance - a lot of students, clubs, bars, castles, festivals, a stadium and many other places that are worth visiting. Everywhere are trees with oranges and lemons, etc. People are veeeery friendly and helpful.” – student from Poland

Another big positive aspect of studying in Portugal is the practice-oriented teaching, which encourages personal development, and the versatile research opportunities available. Many students were impressed by the good connections of universities in Portugal to industries relevant to their study programs. 

“Concerning university, I liked most of them a lot, because they were much more practical than the ones I had in Germany. I think I learned much more realistic and useful stuff. Moreover, apart from teaching, the majority of my professors work as professionals in different business areas. So, they were able to talk about their practical experiences, which seemed to me highly relevant and interesting.” – student from Germany 

“Ismai has everything a student could need: a library, a lot of computer classes with internet, wifi, a gym, a big parking space and, of course, cool teachers.” – student from Lithuania

What to consider before choosing to study in Portugal

Many international students in Portugal were not happy with the level of university bureaucracy and, in some cases, the lack of relevant information. Unsatisfactory staff organization also caused some inconveniences to international exchange students. It was felt by some reviewers that courses at universities in Portugal may prove to be rather demanding, and with a lot of competition between students. On bright side, this may motivate ambitious students to challenge themselves and achieve exceptional results.

For more information about the International Student Satisfaction Awards and universities in Portugal, visit the StudyPortals country report. Students who are planning to study in Portugal can also compare more than 160 English-taught master’s degrees and more than 80 bachelor’s programs taught in Portuguese, English or both.

This article was originally published in January 2015 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

Tiina comes from Finland and currently lives in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. She works in research and PR at StudyPortals. Before moving to the Netherlands, Tiina lived in Germany and in Italy. In her free time she enjoys baking cakes and doing all kind of sports. 

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