Education in Portugal: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats

Education in Portugal has been a subject of interest for many expatriates considering relocating their families. It offers a blend of public, private, and international schools, each providing unique benefits and various curricula to accommodate the needs of the diverse expat community.

Public Schools in Portugal

Public schools in Portugal provide free education for all citizens, including foreign residents as outlined by the Portuguese government. However, these schools teach exclusively in Portuguese, which can present a language barrier for expats. Moreover, they’ve been the focus of much debate due to regular teacher strikes and concerns about the Ministry of Education. But if you’re an expat with a good grasp of the Portuguese language, public schools can be a cost-effective choice.

 Students in Portugal heading to their university lecture

Private Schools: The Preferred Choice

Private schools in Portugal, often faith-based, offer smaller class sizes, better facilities, and a more robust system of extracurricular activities compared to public schools. Despite requiring tuition fees, they continue to be a popular choice among expats due to their flexible curricula and teaching quality.

Yet, it’s important to note that these institutions often pay their teachers less than their public counterparts, leading to a pool of younger and less experienced educators. Investing in Portuguese real estate may allow you to avail of discounts on tuition fees in certain private schools.

International Schools: The Expat’s Choice

International schools in Portugal offer curricula like the British Curriculum, American Curriculum, and the globally recognized International Baccalaureate (IB). The benefits of an IB education include a strong emphasis on global thinking, making it particularly appealing to expats. Schools such as the British School of Lisbon, Prime School International, and Oeiras International School are popular choices among the international community.

Expats can explore an in-depth guide on Education in Portugal to help navigate this vital aspect of relocating.

The scenic University of Coimbra, a symbol of quality education in Portugal

Higher Education in Portugal

When it comes to higher education, Portugal offers an array of state-run and private universities. The most prestigious ones are state-owned and cost less than €900 a year. While private universities are costlier, they are perceived to provide better education. Portugal’s education system also includes various scholarship programs and student loan facilities offered by Portuguese banks.

According to the OECD, Portugal’s performance in education has significantly improved over the past years, making it a worthy investment for expats pursuing higher education or planning the same for their children.

The Cost Factor

While education in Portugal can be free (for public schools), private schooling costs can range from €200 to €10,000 per month. International schools can cost between €7,000 to €20,000 a year. However, these figures may vary depending on the school and level of education. Understanding the cost of living in Portugal compared to the US can provide a clearer picture of your education budget.

In conclusion, education in Portugal provides a plethora of options tailored to meet the diverse needs of the expat community. As you plan your move, make sure to consider all aspects, from the vibrant nightlife to the excellent healthcare, and of course, the unique education offerings of this beautiful country.


 Library at the University of Coimbra, a beacon of education in Portugal


Article Summary
This article delves into the intriguing topic of Education in Portugal for expats, giving a comprehensive analysis of what it offers. The exploration begins with an overview of Portugal’s education system, detailing the two primary sectors – public and private education.
Public schools in Portugal are free for both locals and expats, but the teaching language is Portuguese, and these schools have faced criticism for teacher strikes and management issues.
Private schools require a tuition fee but provide a more enhanced learning environment, smaller class sizes, and a focus on extra-curricular activities. They often have modern facilities, but note that the teaching staff can sometimes be underqualified due to lower pay scales compared to the public sector.
The article further outlines the advantages of international schools in Portugal. These institutions offer diverse curricula, ensure high standards of education, and cater to expats wishing to educate their children in English or other languages.
The piece also highlights the tuition fees in private schools, revealing a range of €200 to €10,000 per month, depending on the school and level of education.
A list of popular international schools is also provided, giving expats a guide to choosing the best fit for their children. These schools offer curricula such as the British Curriculum, American Curriculum, and International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum.
Lastly, the article offers valuable links and resources for further reading and deeper understanding of the Portuguese education system for expats.

A typical school in Portugal showcasing the country's commitment to education


  1. Is education in Portugal free for expats? Yes, public education is free for both Portuguese citizens and foreign residents, including expats.
  2. Can expat children be taught in English in Portugal? Yes, international schools in Portugal offer education in English and other languages.
  3. How much are the tuition fees for private schools in Portugal? Tuition fees vary, but they generally range from €200 to €10,000 per month, depending on the school and level of education.
  4. What are some popular international schools in Portugal for expat children? Some popular international schools include British School of Lisbon, Oeiras International School, Lycée Francais Charles Le Pierre de Lisbonne, and The Lisboan International School, among others.
  5. Does Portugal offer higher education opportunities for expats? Yes, there are public, private, and international universities in Portugal, offering a variety of undergraduate, postgraduate, master, and doctorate courses.