Iscte was created in 1972, under the acronym ISCTE – Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, to teach undergraduate courses in the fields of sociology and management and aimed to be a new university education institution in the framework of the “Veiga Simão reform”. Over the years, Iscte has increased in size and scope within new scientific areas. Today it has five schools on two campuses, one in Lisbon and one also in Sintra since 2022.
In 1997, Iscte joined the Foundation of Portuguese Universities and, in 2005, the Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities (CRUP).
In 2009, while maintaining its role as a public university, Iscte became one of the three Portuguese universities under a Public Foundation regime, managed under private law. Alongside this change, it also changes its designation to Iscte – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (Iscte – University Institute of Lisbon).
In 2010, it adopted a new organizational structure based on 16 departments and four schools: ECSH – School of Social Sciences and Humanities / ESPP – School of Sociology and Public Policy / IBS – Iscte Business School / ISTA – School of Technology and Architecture.
In 2020, the President of the Republic distinguished Iscte – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa with the Order of Public Instruction.
In 2021, construction began on Iscte Knowledge and Innovation, a building complex intended for the Technology Transfer and Valorization Center (CVTT), which will house eight research centers (all classified as Excellent or Very Good), ten laboratories and three observatories.
In 2022-2023, teaching will begin at the fifth school: the Iscte Sintra School of Digital Technologies, Economics, and Society, a new campus located 30 km from Lisbon. It will offer eight innovative degrees which excel at the intersection of technology and social sciences, stimulating applied research and interdisciplinarity, characteristics of Iscte throughout its 50 years in existence.
The anniversary was marked on December 7th, 2022, at the “National Meeting 50 Years of Veiga Simão Reform, 50 years of Democracy”, an initiative aimed to debate the “University: Key to the Future”, which mobilized Iscte, the Commission of the Commemorations of the 50th Anniversary of the 25th of April, and CRUP, and had the High Patronage of the President of the Portuguese Republic.
Currently, Iscte has more than 13 thousand students of 90 nationalities, with about 60% in post-graduate education.