As is the case in most jurisdictions, public universities are generally cheaper than their private counterparts, but some private institutions offer discounts of up to one hundred percent (100%) of the lecture fees. This depends on an assessment of the evaluation marks of a student. In private institutions the tuition cost is decided based on the total number of credits each student obtains. A Bachelor’s (licenciatura) or Masters mestrados integrados, can cost anywhere from 350-500 € per month for tuition. As 2014, Portugal has passed a law that sets the minimum value for first and second cycle tuition costs to 1065 € at public universities, but the decision is left up to the individual universities to decide where the cost lies and quite often it varies from 1000-1500 € per year. Most institutions have a standard registration fee of 25-30 € and annual insurance of 2 € or less.
Students can benefit from the affordable cost of living that Portugal offers. Big City flats such as those in Lisbon range from 150-400 € per month without some amenities, but of course, these prices though modest by European standards, are at the highest in the major cities and more affordable accommodations can be found in the minor towns and provinces. Students are assisted by their institutions by being provided with identity cards that qualify them for discounts when they acquire lodgings, shop at bookstores, supermarkets or restaurants, set up or acquire mobile connections and take public transportation.
Going from one location to another is quite easy with the options available, inclusive of trams, trains, taxis, metros and rent-a-car services. The bus and train are the more affordable options for most students, but there are also ferries for those commuting from coastal areas. Portugal cities even have arranged activities that help you relax and give you a chance to see what the towns offer so you can escape from the pressures of your studies. Students can go sight-seeing at various parks and museums or other venues, free of cost up to 2 p.m. on weekends.
There are several restaurants that offer both local and international dishes for the discerning palettes. If you desire to have lunch at a mid-class restaurant, it will cost up to 10 €, while lunches at the student canteen will cost up to 4 €. Dinner will cost a bit more at up to 15 €, but in most cases this is inclusive of drinks. Students can also eat for much less at a bakery or padarias, or at a sweet bakery – pastelarias- which offers various pastry items. Stocking up at either of these will cost up to 5 €. At these prices students will still be able to meet their daily dietary requirements without worrying too much about the cost. Students in Lisbon and Porto will however experience higher costs with food and drink ranging anywhere from 150-200 € per month. Coimbra happens to be the cheapest when it comes to food costs.
The state has recently cut budgetary funding to higher education, resulting in increased costs for students. For the most part, universities, private corporations and individuals, take steps to fund tertiary education through scholarships and special grants. Despite the budget cuts, the government offers limited assistance by having waivers or making allowances for the families of students from Portugal. Any state assistance is granted on a needs basis after the student is assessed by a panel appointed by the state.
Compared with some other countries, there is not a long list of state scholarships available for students studying in Portugal. Apart from the state grants offered to those in financial need, the cultural centre offers scholarships to art students. Most scholarships that do exist are funded by universities and are targeted at specific areas involving doctoral research, while others are opened to students in any discipline and at any level of study. Each university offers scholarships for their own set of programmes, to off-set costs for those who have done exceptionally well academically or those in need. This means students from all programmes are able to find scholarships in their field.
The economic downturn resulting from the global recession has weakened Portugal’s job market; but it is not a dismal predicament for students or those who are suitably qualified, since there are openings in the market which they can fill. Students can seek out vacancies in the telecommunications sector as well as the administrative and commercial sectors. You can secure part time vacancies as a customer care assistant, junior online marketing representative, web designer or data collector.