Portugal, gateway to Europe for international students


Generation Z, the cohort born in the 1990s, was found to be more concerned about academic performance and job prospects than previous generations. Not only have gross enrollment ratios (GER) improved across the world, but the student community is increasingly pursuing higher education outside of their home country. The number of internationally mobile students has more than tripled in the 21st century, with more than 6 million such students worldwide (according to 2019 figures). In response to a starless question from Rajya Sabha, Shri V. Muraleedharan (MoS, Ministry of External Affairs) said that in the first quarter of 2022 itself, more than 0.133 million students left India for purposes educational. With the impact of COVID-19 starting to fade, the previous year had actually seen a gigantic 41% increase in the number of Indian students going abroad to pursue higher education.

India continues to be one of the top countries in terms of overseas students, second only to China. An interesting aspect of this global migration, however, is that more than half of these students opt for higher education in countries located in the regions of North America and Western Europe. Surprisingly, according to a Western Union white paper titled ‘Education Overseas, an Evolving Journey’, even and beyond materialistic goals, Gen Z students prefer to make their higher education choices based on career opportunities. autonomy and personal development, as well as for travel and cultural exploration.

It is therefore not surprising that Indian students are increasingly flocking to countries like Portugal in Western Europe. Known for its perfect climate, its beautiful beaches, its historical and cultural richness (not to mention the Primeira Liga) and its high quality of student life (the country was ranked 2nd in Latin Europe according to the Global Student Satisfaction Awards 2021); Portugal offers thousands of courses through its 50 universities and 84 polytechnics, both public and private. These include some of the best in Europe such as the University of Porto, the University of Lisbon and the University of Coimbra, the oldest in the country. Portugal also has international partnership agreements in the field of education, in particular with American universities, such as Programa MIT-Portugal, The Lisbon MBA and Harvard Medical School-Portugal.

Voted 4th best place for expats in 2022 by InterNations, Portugal is known as much for its warm and friendly people as it is for its welcoming climate. Also in terms of safety and security, it has one of the lowest crime rates and was voted the 6th most peaceful country in the world, according to IEP’s 2022 Global Peace Index.
A RedSeer report said that about a third of student spending abroad came from visa, insurance, food and accommodation costs, making these important considerations for the international student community, especially for those looking for a secure future and a return on investment. In order to better enjoy the experience and increase opportunities in the new country, many international students have considered pursuing a permanent residency program, instead of simply having a student visa. These residency and citizenship programs for permanent residency by investment – in the case of Portugal, the Golden Visa, offer a range of benefits (freedom to work and travel across the EU) as well as an opportunity for citizenship ( the fastest in Europe), not only for the investor, but also for their spouse and dependents. Those who acquire citizenship can access the special university admission scheme, benefit from lower tuition rates and even free tuition at some of the public universities in Portugal.

As international students explore new avenues and destinations for higher education and employment, these programs are becoming an increasingly attractive option.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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