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Portugal: simplified student visa application aims at boosting international students

In the framework of the SIMPLEX+ programme, launched in 2006 with the aim to ease bureaucratic procedures and make life easier for citizens and businesses, the Portuguese Government issued a decree including provisions for a simplified procedure for international students for obtaining their visas. The decree came into effect on 11 May and it “demonstrates the political will of the Portuguese government to foster the internationalisation of higher education and to establish Portugal as a destination of excellence for students and researchers from all around the world”, said a spokesperson from the University of Porto. However, it will be difficult to estimate the exact impact that this provision will have on attracting international students.

In the last few years, Portuguese universities registered an increase in the number of international students choosing Portugal as their study destination. For example, the University of Porto saw a doubling in international students - from 2 800 in 2014 to more than 5 900 in 2019 - coming from around 100 different countries. According to the spokesperson from the University of Porto, the procedure for obtaining the visa for studying in the country had never been particularly complicated and was never an obstacle for international students. However, it is reported, “the new rules will, at least, make the experience less bureaucratic and time-consuming for our candidates, which is advantageous for all Portuguese universities”.

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