Access to higher education is regulated by Decree-Law No. 296-A/98 of September 25th, as amended by Decree-Law No. 90/2008 of May 30th, and by Decree-Law No. 393-A/99, of October 2nd, as amended by Decree-Law No. 272/2009, of October 1st, as well as by the corresponding regulations.
Thus, access to higher education may take place in the following ways:
1. General Access Regime
1.1 National Tender: It is the main means of access to higher education, where candidates apply to courses offered at public higher education institutions. This tender is organized by the General Directorate of Higher Education based on the Regulation for the National Tender for Access and Admission in public higher education that is published annually.
The National Tender is divided into three stages, with dates usually set between July and October of each year. In the 1st stage, openings set for each course in each higher education institution are distributed by a general contingent and the following special contingents:
a) Special contingent for applicants from the Autonomous Region of the Azores;
b) Special contingent for applicants from the Autonomous Region of Madeira;
c) Special contingent for applicants who are Portuguese emigrants and family members residing with them;
d) Special contingent for candidates serving under a contractual military service regime;
e) Special contingent for candidates with physical or sensory disabilities.
1.2 Local Tenders: Applications to courses offered at public higher education establishments of a policing nature and to certain public courses with special characteristics (e.g. degrees in Cinema, Music and Theatre) are made through local tenders organized by each educational establishment.
1.3 Institutional Tenders: Applications to courses offered at private and cooperative higher education institutions are made through the institutional tenders organized by each educational institution based on the General Regulation of Institutional Tenders published annually.
2. Special Regimes for Access
The special regimes for access are applicable to access and admission to public higher education institutions and to private and cooperative higher education institutions. These regimes do not apply to courses at military and police higher education institutions.
2.1 Regime for diplomatic mission abroad: this regime benefits Portuguese employees of a Portuguese diplomatic mission abroad and their accompanying family members.
2.2 Regime for Portuguese citizens with a scholarship abroad or civil servants on official missions abroad: this regime benefits these citizens and their accompanying family members.
2.3 Regime for permanent staff officers of the Portuguese Armed Forces: this regime benefits these citizens and is intended to meet the specific training needs of the Armed Forces.
2.4. Regime for PALOP students: this regime benefits citizens of Portuguese-speaking African countries, within the scope of cooperation agreements signed by the Portuguese State.
2.5 Regime for foreign officials of diplomatic missions: this regime benefits foreign officials of diplomatic missions accredited in Portugal and their family members residing here, on a reciprocal basis.
2.6 Regime for top competition athletes: this regime benefits athletes with top competition status or integrated in a top competition course, according to the legislation in force.
2.7 Regime for natives and children of natives from the territory of East Timor
3. Special tenders
Access to higher education may also be made through special tenders, namely:
3.1. Tender for holders of technological specialization diplomas: Tenders applicable in access and admission to public higher education establishments and private and cooperative higher education establishments, with the exception of public military and police higher education establishments. In accordance with the legislation in force, it is the responsibility of the legally and statutorily competent body of each higher education institution to determine, for each of its higher education courses, which TSCs allow for admission.
3.2 Tender for access of applicants over 23 years old: Tenders applicable to access and admission to public higher education institutions and to private and cooperative higher education institutions, with the exception of public, military and police higher education institutions. According to the legislation in force, candidates who turn 23 years old until December 31st of the year preceding the exams can register for exams. The purpose of such exams is to assess the candidate’s ability to attend a degree course at a higher education institution.
3.3 Access to Medicine by holders of a Licentiate degree: Tender applicable to access and admission to public higher education institutions offering this course. From the academic year 2011-2012 on, inclusively, the number of openings is equal to or higher than 15% of the number of openings set for the national tender for access to this course in each college. In accordance with the legislation in force, candidates who hold a licentiate degree in one of the scientific areas listed in a list approved by the scientific body of the college in question may apply to this special tender.
4. Course readmission, change, and transfer
The regulation for course readmission, transfer and change regimes establishes the conditions under which each of these changes in the students’ academic career will take place. These are not access routes to higher education, but rather circulation routes that emerge only after access has been verified by means of the regimes identified above.
More information on access to higher education can be found at www.dges.mctes.pt