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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.5 Cross-border learning mobility

Last update: 28 November 2023

Policy framework

The different mobility initiatives and programmes have been developed in the framework of the Strategic Development Plan for the Portuguese Education System, in accordance with the objectives defined in the amendment to the Law no. 49/2005, of 30 August.

The MCTES, through DGES, is responsible for monitoring the programmes and measures within the framework of international cooperation, mobility, and recognition in higher education.

The collaboration between national and international institutions has been made easier by the possibility of creation of joint degrees and the award of double, multiple and joint diplomas between national and foreign higher education institutions.

For more information about the evaluation and certification system of mobility in Higher Education, refer to Eurydice - Mobility and Internationalisation.

Regarding the non-higher education system, Portugal still participates in various international evaluation exercises:

  • Programme for International Student Assessment – PISA;
  • Teaching and Learning International Survey - TALIS;
  • Progress in International Reading Literacy Study – PIRLS;
  • Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study - TIMSS.


Priority Areas for Implementation

In Portugal, mobility and internationalisation of education and training is based on three distinct priority areas: European Union; International Cooperation and Cooperation for Development.

European Union

Mobility is structured in programmes, projects or activities of different nature and content, and may occur at national, transnational, and international level.

International Cooperation

This cooperation is based both on bilateral relationships under cultural agreements, and activities developed under relationships with international organisations in the field of education, such as OECD, the Europe Council, ONU, UNESCO or OEI.

Cooperation for Development

This type of cooperation is developed in coordination with the Portuguese public administration, through bilateral or multilateral agreements. The relationships among the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) with the ME and the International Institute of Portuguese Language are an example of this cooperation (IILP).

Study & Research in Portugal

Recently, the Portuguese Government approved the general guidelines of the policy focused on internationalisation of higher education and of science and technology, in particular through the dissemination of the training offer and scholarships offers, and the promotion of the initiative "Study and research in Portugal", aiming to highlight and promote research and development activities (I&D).

The Study & Research in Portugal is a new platform for the valorization and internationalisation of higher education, science and technology, dedicated to students and researchers, companies and foreign institutions of science and technology.  It is developed by the MCTES, in articulation with DGES, FCT, I.P. and the Secretary of State of Tourism and Tourism of Portugal.


Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education


Within the framework and strategic objectives of the European Commission Erasmus+ Programme (2014-2020), several projects have been implemented and promoted in recent years.


Portugal participates in the Erasmus Programme since its implementation by the European Commission in 1987, being the main source of funding for the mobility of students in Higher Education.

The Erasmus+ Education and Training National Agency manages the Erasmus+ mobility and partnership decentralized actions in the fields of School Education, Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education and Higher Education (2014-2020). The Agency is responsible for managing  Key action 1 - Learning Mobility of individuals (includes all sectors and, at the level of Higher Education, also includes mobility with EU's partner countries - International Credit Mobility) and  Key action 2 - Cooperation for Innovation and Good Practices - Strategic Partnerships.

If Key action 1 addresses specifically mobility between education and training institutions, whit projects lasting between 12 and 24 months, the Strategic Partnerships in the field of education may be of two types:

- Support to innovation - Different institutions can be involved (universities, schools, local authorities and other actors of the education sector). Applicants have the possibility to request a specific budget for Intellectual Outputs and Multiplier Events in order to directly answer to the innovation aspect of the action;

- Support to exchange of good practices - projects that allow groups of students and/or teachers to develop and reinforce networks, increase the capacity to operate at transnational level, share and confront ideas, practices, and methods.

A Strategic Partnership is transnational and involves minimum three organisations from three different Programme Countries (exceptionally, it may involve a minimum of two organisations in the School Education sector, KA229). The duration of the projects is between 24 and 36 months.

Beneficiary organizations are responsible for the management, implementation, and monitoring of the entire project, including mobility and activities carried out in both key actions.

The participants in mobility and activities of projects developed under Erasmus+ will receive an attendance certificate issued by the partner entities.  Participants also can register their mobilities in the Europass-Mobility Document.

For more detailed information, refer to the Erasmus+ national agency website.


Erasmus+ Higher Education

For Higher Education, Key action 1 includes mobility for staff and students (KA103).

Associated to KA103 mobility, there might be a complement to the scholarships awarded with EU funds, an Erasmus Supplementary Scholarship (BSE-SOC) paid by the Portuguese government. This is  to ensure socio-economic equity acceding mobility: the scholarship is intended for national students that show socio-economic deprivation, and already benefit from a social support scholarship in higher education.

In summary, students acknowledge the importance of mobility because even a short stay abroad contributes to their CV afterwards, not only from experiencing a different education system and learning activities, but also as a result of the importance given to soft skills and language learning.

For staff, mobility is an important way of establishing collaboration networks between colleagues and peers, improving higher education internationalization. As for Key action 2, partnerships, these projects improve the development and innovation through significant outputs not only for the higher education sector, but also transversally (KA203). Within International Credit Mobility (ICM or KA107), the Portuguese Higher Education Institutions have not only established an enlarged network of partners, around the world, as they have been elements contributing to the development of Higher Education systems in partner countries, enabling among other issues the adhesion to the Bologna Process. ICM projects allow both student and staff mobility.


Erasmus + School Education

Actions framed in the School Education sector are targeted to public or private schools in any education level, from preschool to secondary.

Mobility through Key Action 1 - Learning Mobility of individuals (KA101) only includes staff. In fact, mobility projects for learning purposes are intended for teaching and non-teaching staff or other educational staff that participate in the strategic development of the school.

Through  participation in partnerships in Key Action 2  (KA201, KA229), students can also be included, mostly through KA229, which are School Exchange Partnerships specifically addressing this possibility.

Public and private schools of the following types and levels of education can apply for these projects: preschool education; basic and secondary education; mainstre


Erasmus+ Vocational Education and Training

Mobility projects for learning purposes are intended for teaching and non-teaching staff or other educational staff, as well as learners (KA102 and KA116). These actions have enabled traineeships for VET learners to have a significant mobility experience, sometimes a traineeship in a unique institution or contextual circumstances which does not exist in their local grounds.

As for Key action 2, Vocational Education and Training also has a specific action, KA202, for collaboration among different institutions within the sector.

Public and private schools with vocational education and training courses can apply for these actions.


Erasmus+ Adult Education

The decentralised actions framed for the Adult Education sector allow the participation of entities involved with Adult Education. On the one hand there is the chance to finance mobility projects for learning purposes, for personnel involved with Adult Education in Key Action1 (KA104) — and, on the other hand, there is the chance to finance Strategic Partnership projects (KA204).

The mobility projects are restricted to Adult Education  staff and may comprehend teaching and training activities.


Programmes within the framework of the European Union:

Erasmus Mundus

Portuguese higher education institutions are part of Erasmus Mundus - European programme for cooperation and mobility in higher education since its first implementation in 2004-2008. Higher education joint programmes still provide funding for scholarships both for third world country participants in these courses and, more recently, to European participants.

Under Erasmus Mundus, DGES has promoted a set of measures to overcome obstacles to mobility, particularly in regard to the recognition of joint, double and multiple academic degrees, by participating in the Bridge project - Best Recognition Instruments for the Dialogue between Global Experts.

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degrees (MCEM) are prestigious integrated studies programme, taught jointly by an international consortium of higher education institutions, where scholarships are awarded to the best students that apply.  These programmes have the minimum duration of 12 months and a maximum of 24 months, awarding 60, 90 or 120 ECTS credits.

Currently, the National Agency Erasmus+ Education and Training became the national point of contact for the Erasmus Mundus Programme, supporting the applicants with information. The applications are submitted at central level, to the Executive Agency, Brussels

The existing information falls on the sphere of competences and the autonomy of higher education institutions.


National Programmes:

Higher Education. Research Mobility - Support for students

Regarding the funding of mobility, in 2007 the Portuguese Government created a loan system for students of the 1st and 2nd cycle of higher education, implemented through a mutual guarantee signed by the State.

In the 3rd cycle, at the PhD and postdoctoral level, FCT awards yearly a number of scholarships to students enrolled both in national and foreign universities or in joint research programmes, in particular through research grants. The scholarships awarded to projects developed in national institutions can also provide for a mobility period abroad to achieve the project goals. In this case, we are dealing with combined scholarships.


Camões – Institute for Cooperation and Language, I.P.

Camões - Institute for Cooperation and Language, I.P., under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has a scholarship programme targeted at students from Portuguese-speaking African countries and East Timor that wish to study in Portugal.

The goal is to:

  • train young graduates in priority development areas in their country of origin;
  • give priority to applications for courses that do not exist in local schools;
  • give priority to scholarships for postgraduate studies.

This institute offers scholarships for bachelor's degrees (period of 12 months, and can be renewed during the duration of the course), post-graduation degrees (periods of 12 months), master's degrees (periods of 12 months, and can only be renewed once) and PhD (periods of 12 months, and can only be renewed twice).

The fields of study - Military Studies, Police Studies and Law - are covered by special scholarships and programmes.

The Camões, I.P. still offers:

  • Summer school scholarships;
  • Scholarships under the Fernão Mendes Pinto Programme;
  • Scholarships under the Vieira Programme;
  • Scholarships under the Protocol with Fulbright Commission;


Portuguese Institute in the East - IPOR

IPOR offers scholarships to students from Asia and the Pacific Region for learning the Portuguese language in summer courses, as well as language courses with a duration of one year at a Portuguese higher education institution.


Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD)

Within the context of its objective of contributing to the economic and social development in Portugal, by encouraging cooperation between Portugal and the United States in the fields of education, science, technology and culture, FLAD offers a number of scholarships to national students:

FLAD UZAORES: Mobility Fund FLAD-UAc - Crossing the Atlantic" is the result of a protocol signed between the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD) and the University of Azores (UAc);

Papers@USA Scholarships - Scholarships for communication presentations in conferences in the USA;

R&D@PhD Scholarships - Scholarships for doctoral students of Portuguese institutions for research internships in the USA;

Summer Institute on Global Environemental Issues (GEI) - collaborative partnership between the Colorado State University, the Environmental Programme of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundationand Social Sciences Institute of the University of Lisbon.


International Relations Offices of Higher Education Institutions

The role played by higher education institutions through their International Relations Offices must be highlighted. They are responsible for informing, promoting and managing the mobility of its students and teaching staff.

Equally important has been the technological development in higher education and the promotion of new ways of learning - e-learning and b-learning, which can be important tools in facilitating mobility in higher education.


Training of personnel: Professional development of personnel involved with Adult Education upon participation in structured courses or training events abroad; periods of on-the-job training/observation in any active relevant organisation in the adult education sector in another European country that participates in the Program.

The strategic partnership projects can be of two kinds: exchange of good practices and development and use of innovating intellectual products in the organisations.

Adult learners and every player and agent of educational action in Adult Education can participate. In this type of project, mobility for teaching activities, training and learning can be incorporated, wherein lies the chance to include adult learners in mixed mobility: personnel in teaching or long term training missions and/or personnel in short term joint training events.

Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work

Erasmus + Youth in Action

Under the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Erasmus+ Programme develops and promotes a set of programmes and initiatives in the fields of education, training, youth and sport for the period of 2014-2020.

Within the context of non-formal and informal learning for young people, the Erasmus+ Youth in Action Programme is implemented by the National Agency Erasmus+ Youth in Action.


Mobility for Young People and Youth Workers

Under the Key Action 1 - Mobility for Young People and Youth Workers, Erasmus+ promotes a set of transnational activities involving organisations and participants from Countries Programme such as: Youth exchanges; Training and network building of youth workers.

Strategic Partnerships in the field of youth

Under the Key Action 2 - Strategic Partnerships in the field of youth, Erasmus+ promotes projects that aim to support the development, transference and/or application of innovative practices, as well as the implementation of joint initiatives to promote cooperation, peer learning and exchanges of experiences at European level.

It includes two types of projects:

Good Practices: development and strengthening of networks for sharing and confrontation of ideas, practices and methods.

Support to innovation: intensive dissemination and exploration activities of existing or recently produced products, or innovative ideas.

Transnational Youth Initiatives are still provided for under the key action 2, aiming to encourage the social commitment and entrepreneurial spirit of young people.


Support to Policy Reforms – Structured Dialogue

Key Action 3 in the Youth field promotes the active participation of young people in democratic life and fosters debate around topics centered on the themes and priorities set by the Structured Dialogue and the renewed political framework in the youth field. Structured Dialogue is the name used for discussions between young people and youth policy-makers in order to obtain results which are useful for policy-making.

Structured Dialogue projects can take the form of meetings, conferences, consultations and events.


European Solidarity Corps

This European Programme is also managed by the National Agency Erasmus + Youth in Action. It is the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe.

There are three type of initiatives that the Programme promotes:

- Volunteering (individual or in teams)

- Traineeships and jobs

- Solidarity projects (national level)


Other initiatives - internships

In Portugal, there is a set of international mobility programmes that enable young people to intern abroad, allowing them to acquire additional experience in another country.

INOV Contact - International Internships for Young Professionals: provides support for training in the international context. And it is aimed at young NEET (who do not work, do not study and are not in training); under the age of 30 and with a higher education - ISCED 5.

Curricular internships Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Diplomatic Institute): makes internships possible in Portuguese diplomatic representations.

Your first EURES job: framed in the Youth Guarantee Programme that provides support to young people under the age of 35 who wish to find a job, or an internship or follow a learning course in a country of the European Union, in Norway and in Iceland.

The Job of My Life: framed in the Youth Guarantee Programme. It is a programme of the German Government that aims to promote the mobility of young people interested in professional training (MobiPro-EU) and between the age of 18 and 27.

Memoranda of understanding on youth mobility: bilateral agreements between the Government of the Portuguese Republic and some foreign Governments that regulate the issuing of visas.  Targeted at young people between the age of 18 and 30 so that they can travel and work for a certain period of time in another country.  Currently, Portugal has bilateral agreements with the Republic of South Korea, Australia and Japan.


Learning Programme from the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, I.P.

International Workcamps: exchange programme aimed at young Portuguese people and foreigners between the age of 18 and 30 for training through non-formal educational and intercultural processes.


Quality assurance

The accreditation and quality assurance of Higher Education is carried out by an independent entity - the Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3es), which is responsible for the certification of Internal Systems of Quality Assurance of Higher Education institutions.

In addition to the A3es' competences of promotion and internationalisation of higher education, it is member of  the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), which is an European representative structure of the Agencies for Quality Assurance in Higher Education.

European Quality Charter for Mobility (Erasmus Student Charter)

Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE)

Portugal joined the European Quality Charter for Mobility (Erasmus Student Charter) and the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE).

The objective is to facilitate the mobility of Erasmus students for Studies or Internships in integrated periods of studies or internships abroad between 2 to 12 months or the equivalent of a quarter/full school term.  After the mobility period, the student can get the qualifications that he/she obtained or completed abroad recognized and validated through the ECTS system. The national higher education institution of origin is responsible for this process. 

Within the framework of the Bologna process, students can still benefit from autonomous mobility experiences, which are not framed in exchange programmes or cooperation agreements.