In Portugal there are public and private higher education institutions:
- The access to private higher education through the general regime is held annually through institutional contests organized by each institution individually;
- The access to public higher education through the general regime is held annually through the submission of an application on the national contest organized by Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior.
The national contest takes place at the end of the school year and is organized into three phases. Students can apply to all three phases of the contest.
Students wishing to apply through the general regime to the first cycle of studies, must fulfil the following conditions:
a) Hold a Secondary School Leaving Certificate with a final average equivalent to the Portuguese secondary education.
This equivalence can be obtained in Direção-Geral da Educação.
b) Perform the national final exams of secondary education corresponding entrance exams required to apply to the specific courses students wish to attend.
In order to pass these exams students will have to submit an application in a Portuguese secondary school and get the minimum mark required by the institutions of higher education. The compulsory minimum marks are determined annually by each institution of higher education for each of their courses and are disclosed in the Application Guide.
For students who hold a foreign Secondary School Leaving Certificate equivalent to the Portuguese secondary education, the entrance exams can be replaced by final exams of those courses.
Those final exams must meet the following conditions:
_ Nationally Recognized – final exams required nationally for admission to higher education in this country. The Foreign final exams can be used for a similar period to that set for the Portuguese national final exams of secondary education - in the same year of its completion and the following two years.
_ To be homologous of the Portuguese admission exams. It is considered to be homologous the final exams, albeit with different names, have same level and similar goals and contents of the entrance exams students wish to replace.
The listing of foreign final exams considered homologous of Portuguese entrance exams is disclosed in May 31 of the year preceding the year of the application.
The replacement of entrance exams is required in Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior.
c) Perform the prerequisites (evidence of physical, functional or vocational skills) if required by the institution for the course students wish to attend.