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Reviews of National Policies for Education: Tertiary Education in Portugal 2007

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Portugal’s tertiary education sector has expanded significantly over the last 20 years, but participation and overall educational attainment levels remain below European standards and enrolment rates have begun to decline. The OECD review recommends that Portugal’s national government should focus on strategic direction and leave higher education institutions wider latitude for accomplishing public priorities consistent with their mission. Among its proposals for reform, the review calls for the creation of a National Council on Higher Education to oversee Portugal’s higher education strategy. The review also calls for major changes in the governance and management of higher education institutions to bring them into line with national goals, encourage their responsiveness and efficiency, and improve their quality.  Improving research and innovation is a key strategic objective of the Portuguese government, and the OECD review suggests a number of qualitative changes in Portugal’s tertiary education system to enhance performance in this area.

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System Diversity and System Co-ordination

Chapter 2 provides a portrait of higher education in Portugal, and illustrates the differences between universities and polytechnics. It describes challenges at the systemic level and discusses governance of the national system. The chapter explores the steering mechanisms for institutions, by examining programmes, students, funding and human resources. It describes Portugal’s goals, and proposes a National Council for Higher Education to help the country meet its goals. The proposed Council would negotiate institutional contracts and strengthen steering capacity that would help diversify the system.

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