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Portugal needs to overhaul its tertiary education system, OECD says

 

13/12/2006 - Portugal will need to invest more over the long term in its universities and other post-secondary schooling institutions if it wants to raise attainment levels to standards similar to those of other European countries, according to an OECD review of Portugal’s tertiary education system to be published next year.

Improving research and innovation is a key strategic objective of the Portuguese government, and the OECD review will suggest a number of qualitative changes in Portugal’s tertiary education system and its management in order to enhance performance in this area.

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, largely due to demographic changes. Major changes in the governance and management of higher education institutions are needed to bring them into line with national goals, encourage responsiveness and efficiency and improve quality of provision, according to the OECD.

The conclusions of the OECD review were discussed with Portuguese authorities in Lisbon on 13 December 2006, and the full report will be published in 2007. Portugal is expected to produce a follow-up report in about two years’ time on progress and developments.

As part of a strategy for change, the OECD recommends the establishment of a high-level national Council on higher education, chaired by the Prime Minister and housed in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education. The OECD review will also contain recommendations for governance of institutions, among them that the national Government focus on strategic direction, leaving institutions wide latitude for accomplishing public priorities consistent with their mission.

Performance contracts, negotiated with each institution, are proposed as the main vehicle for steering institutions to align their mission to national goals for tertiary education. The report will also address such issues as the student social support system, private contribution and access; improving quality and building excellence; outward orientation and external stakeholder involvement.

For further information, journalists are invited to contact Susan Copeland, OECD's Education Directorate (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 34).