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Portugal, Academic Career Structure

Portugal

 

 
 

Higher Education in Portugal

In Portugal, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education is responsible for university education and research.

University education is provided in autonomous public universities, private universities, polytechnic institutions and private higher education institutions of other types. In the public higher education sector, there are 15 universities. The private higher education sector has over 10 universities. Contrary to most other European countries, the private sector therefore plays an important role in Portuguese Higher Education.

The two systems of higher education (university and polytechnic) are linked and one can transfer from one to the other. One can also transfer from a public institution to a private one and vice versa.

 

Career Curriculum

Permanent staff at public universities:

1. Junior Assistant (Assistente Estagiário)
2. Assistant (Assistente)
3. Assistant Professor (Professor Auxiliar)
4. Associate Professor (Professor Associado)
5. Full Professor (Professor Catedrático)

Specially contracted personnel at public universities:

1. Invited Assistant (Assistente Convidado)
2. Invited Assistant Professor (Professor Auxiliar Convidado)
3. Invited Associate Professor (Professor Associado Convidado)
4. Invited Full Professor (Professor Catedrático Convidado)

Note: The functions and salaries of specially contracted personnel are the same as those of a teacher in the equivalent position in a career-track job.

There are no career regulations in the private sector, although the government must publish legislation regarding this.

The average age for obtaining the PhD degree is 37.

 

Requirement for Positions in the Public University Sector

To become a Junior Assistant, one must hold a licenciatura (graduation) or its legal equivalent with a minimum grade of 16/20. The position can be held for maximum 2 + 2 years, during which time the holder should obtain their master’s degree.

To become an Assistant one must hold a masters’ degree or its legal equivalent, except if candidates are already Junior Assistant, in which case the master’s degree can be replaced by a public examination that evaluates the scientific and pedagogical qualities of the candidate. The position can be held for 6-8 years, in which period the holder is supposed to write a PhD.

To become Assistant Professor, one must have a PhD.

To reach the higher professorial ranks, academic professional experience is required.

To become Full Professor, one also needs the agregação. The agregação is not an academic degree but an academic title. Anyone who holds the degree of doctor can apply to obtain it. The approval of a candidate is based on his/her scientific and pedagogical curriculum and merits.

Specially contracted personnel follows different rules. As they often come from the private sector, they must have professional experience instead of academic degrees.

Under the present statute governing academic staff, access to a position of Assistant Professor is not necessarily by a formal competition. The corresponding positions in an institution are in general kept open, waiting for the Assistants of this institution who have obtained a PhD and who have the right of automatic access to this category. When there is the need to recruit an Assistant Professor with a given profile and there are no candidates within the institution, the position will be publicly announced. The institution, under the advice of the Scientific Council, will either invite the applicant it considers to be the most adequate, without any other process, or decide to open a formal public competition among candidates.

The procedure is different for the positions of Associate Professor and Full Professor. Both categories correspond to a very limited number of such positions assigned by the Government to each institution at regular periods of time. When a university institution decides to fill a vacant post, a formal procedure is initiated by publishing an announcement in national-circulation newspapers and in the Official Journal. The nature of the vacancy, the minimum access conditions, and conditions conferring preferential treatment, are explained thoroughly, together with the list of documents to be provided and the deadline for the candidature. Candidates who fulfil these conditions are formally notified of the fact and are admitted to a public competition, in which a number of documents to be provided by the candidates are appraised by an academic court nominated for this purpose; the court must include members from other university institutions and its constitution is published in the Official Journal. The court is presided by the University Rector or one of its Vice-Rectors.

The recruitment of Associate and Full Professors is a long and cumbersome process. The documents to be appraised consist, for each candidate, of an extensive curriculum vitae; two copies of every scientific, technical or pedagogic document mentioned therein; a detailed report dealing on the general lines, contents, learning methods and organisational data related to a course or group of courses that the candidate proposes to organise, within the scientific field the contest refers to. The examination of these documents is usually assigned to some members of the court, who will act as rapporteurs, and their conclusions are analysed by the academic court, in a restricted meeting, until a final decision is reached by a majority of members, expressing which candidates are accepted or rejected. A detailed and bona fides record of this procedure will be available to all candidates, should they require it.

 

Research Carriers

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Barriers to Career Advancement

In general, a university graduate only wins a permanent position in the teaching career about two decades after having begun it. The intrinsic instability of this long road, with its many hurdles and periodic performance appraisal by the various academic authorities is the real driving force for university staff development.

Access to the category of Full Professor depends on three cumulative conditions: to be an Associate Professor; to have already succeeded in a complex and high-level public examination to acquire the academic title of agregação; and to win a vacant position of Full Professor in a suitable speciality area.

As regards the gender issue, there are more male than female professors. However, it is expected that the sustained higher number of female students will correct this imbalance in the near future.

 

Job Security

The proportion of staff holding permanent tenured positions in Portugal is about 40%. Portugal is the country in Europe with the lowest number of permanent secure academic positions.

The positions of Junior Assistant, Assistant and Assistant Professor are not permanent, and the number of places in each of the positions changes according to needs and legal prescriptions.

The position of Assistant Professor can become permanent, however. After five years in the position, one has to submit a detailed CV to the Scientific Council, who will decide whether the temporary contract should be changed into a permanent one.

The position of Associate Professor is a permanent position, unless the candidate who obtains the job was Assistant Professor for less than five years. In that case, a five-year period awaits the new Associate Professorbefore he or she can be confirmed in this position, by a judgement upon curricular data presented to the Council.

The position of Full Professor is a permanent position.

The total number of the posts of Associate Professor and Full Professor is defined according to student/staff ratios and is fixed by the Ministry of Education.

 

Contracts and Duties

At public universities: a full-time contract requires 35 hours/week, divided between teaching (on average 6-9 hours/week), research, administrative tasks and services rendered to external organisations.

Retirement age is set at 65, but it is possible to work until 70.

In the private sector: there is no established teaching career for private higher education institutions. The terms of individual contracts are freely established between the institution and each teacher. Often teachers are paid by the number of hours of classes effectively taught.

 

Sabbatical Opportunities

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Gross Salaries

Salaries are fixed according to the different categories of teachers and to the number of years of work in each of these.

Monthly gross salaries in 2007

Career rank (exclusive dedication)Salary rank 1Salary rank 2Salary rank 3Salary rank 4

Assistente Estagiário

1.557,98 €/month

1.713,78 €/month

--

--

Assistente and Leitor

2.181,17 €/month

2.259,07 €/month

2.414,87 €/month

--

Professor Auxiliar without agregação

3.038,06 €/month

3.271,76 €/month

3.583,35 €/month

3.817,05 €/month

Professor Auxiliar
with agregação

3.427,56 €/month

3.583,35 €/month

3.926,11 €/month

4.050,75 €/month

Professor Associado without agregação

3.427,56 €/month

3.583,35 €/month

3.926,11 €/month

4.050,75 €/month

Professor Associado with agregação

3.817,05 €/month

3.972,85 €/month

4.128,65 €/month

4.440,24 €/month

Professor Catedrático

4.440,24 €/month

4.673,94 €/month

4.829,74 €/month

5.141,33 €/month

Source: http://www.snesup.pt/home.shtml

Regarding taxes, civil servants have to contribute 1% of their gross salary for health benefits and 10% for the retirement fund.

Academics who formally declare not to work exclusively for the university and hence are free to work for other organisations obtain a salary that is 33% lower than the equivalent category of a teacher who works exclusively for the university.

Pension corresponds to the salary earned during the last year in active life.

 

Number of Existing Positions

Number of existing positions

------All Disciplines

Assistente Estagiário

--

--

--

Assistente and Leitor

--

--

--

Professor Auxiliar without agregação

--

--

--

Professor Auxiliar
with agregação

--

--

--

Professor Associado without agregação

--

--

--

Professor Associado with agregação

--

--

--

Professor Catedrático

--

--

--

 

Internal Recruitment

Usually, a graduate begins an academic career in the institution where he/she obtained his/her degree and there is a general tendency to remain in the same organisation, trying to climb therein all steps of the teaching career. The fact that under the present University Teaching Staff Statute an Assistant has the legal right to become a Assistant Professor in the same institution, as soon as a doctoral degree is acquired, tends to stimulate this absence of mobility.

Changing institution while keeping the same professional position may be the result of a failure to obtain a permanent status in the former institution; of failing to be promoted due to a lack of vacant positions in the immediate category; or of personal or family reasons that impose a change of region of residence. In any case, there is no instituted mechanism to encourage staff rotation.

The academic court can give a positive edge to the local candidate against outsiders in a public competition for a vacant post. If the situation is clearly unfair, the biased decision might be subject to legal prosecution. To avoid deviations, appointed juries for these contests must include a minimum of members from other institutions and the decision by each member must be justified in writing.

 

Accessibility for Non-Nationals

Although internationalisation strongly increases since the past few years, it is still considerably low.

 

National Universities

Research Institutions

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Academic Unions

Useful Websites

This Conselho de Reitores das Universidades Portuguesas (CRUP) includes the rectors of the public universities and of the Portuguese Catholic University.

  • Rectors’ Conference of the Private Universities (CRUPP) 

Info for History

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Info for Economics

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Info for Law

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Info for Political and Social Sciences

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Postdoctoral Information

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Websites for Job Postings

Sources

V. Meira Soares and A. Rocha Trindade (2004), The Attractiveness of the Academic Career: Country Report Portugal. In: J. Enders and Egbert de Weert (eds.), The International Attractiveness of the Academic Workplace in Europe, Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW), Frankfurt/Main, 349-372.

 

Special thanks to:

Sandra Passinhas, Researcher, EUI and University of Coimbra

Page last updated on 18 August 2017