Portuguese academic institutions aim to expand their global connections.

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By Education Today

Posted on November 16, 2023


3 min read

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The government indicates that it is reviewing its previous US partnerships and is eager to accept more Brazilian students, even if the top academic believes that universities do not need to base their entire business model on English-language instruction.

Portugal is a nation that has always looked outside itself, and in an effort to strengthen its ties to the past, its colleges and government are becoming more international.

Elvira Fortunato, Portugal’s minister of research and universities, stated to local media last month that the country’s universities had “more than space” to accept more foreign students. Brazil is the primary nation of origin, accounting for 19,000 enrollments this year.

After serving as vice-rector at Nova University in Lisbon, Professor Fortunato remarked that an increase in foreign students could benefit Portuguese colleges as changes in the country’s population would lower the demand from within.

She had stated to the Expresso newspaper a few months prior that three long-standing research partnerships were “under evaluation” with Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Texas in Austin. According to reports, Portuguese rectors requested that they be stopped.

Rector of the University of Aveiro Paulo Jorge Ferreira told that diversification meant renewing research agreements and increasing the proportion of overseas students.

According to Professor Ferreira, who also serves as the Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities’ internationalisation coordinator, Portuguese-speaking nations have long been a good fit for many academic institutions.

He added that although Spanish universities accept more international students from South America and French institutions accept more from Africa, Portugal is unique in accepting sizable proportions from both at the same time, calling them “emerging markets for all of us.”

Professors Ferreira and Fortunato agreed that Portugal’s universities have enthusiastically embraced the 11 university partnerships sponsored by the European Union, and that these alliances must be leveraged in the country’s future internationalisation strategy.

Although he was not directly involved in the US relationships, Professor Ferreira said they represented a bygone period for the nation.

“The Portuguese universities had a completely different worldwide perspective when those agreements were formed. They could make different sense and serve different roles before than they do now since there were no European universities and internationalisation was at a different stage of development, he said.

“We have extensive worldwide connections; now, we require more symmetrical collaborations that consider research and cooperation in addition to training. Rather of relying just on a select group of partners, we ought to strive for greater variety.

Professor Ferreira stated that although many European universities opt to provide English-language instruction for programmes intended for international students, his experiences at Aveiro demonstrated that this was “not necessary.”

He noted that China is among the top five sending nations for Aveiro, with students frequently selecting Portuguese-language curricula.

Brazil’s principal trading partner for a long time has been China, with which it recently inked a number of cooperative agreements. “Another aspect of this trend is learning Portuguese,” Professor Ferreira stated.

The countries that speak Portuguese would be the natural market, but we need to expand, and one of those directions is undoubtedly Europe. However, there is still the rest of the world, which includes Asia-Pacific and Africa.