Universidade Aberta

Lisbon, Portugal
Universidade Aberta (UAb) was founded in 1988, and it is the single public institution of higher education dedicated to distance learning. Since its inception, UAb has been geared towards the education of geographically dispersed populations and it has already provided successful training of tertiary level for more than 10 000 students, in 33 countries over five continents


Universidade Aberta (UAb) was founded in 1988, and it is the single public institution of higher education dedicated to distance learning. Since its inception, UAb has been geared towards the education of geographically dispersed populations and it has already provided successful training of tertiary level for more than 10 000 students, in 33 countries over five continents. UAb has already graduated over 9000 students, among which more than a thousand are master's degrees and about a hundred are doctoral degrees.
As a pioneer in distance higher education in Portugal, UAb has promoted actions related to higher education and training that also contribute to the dissemination and expansion of the Portuguese language and culture, with emphasis on the Portuguese speaking countries and communities.

During UAbs two-decades of existence, its teachers and researchers developed activities of scientific research through the use of ICT, designing and producing teaching materials in the areas of distance education technologies and multimedia educational communications. The university has over 400 titles published, 3500 hours of audiovisual productions and 6000 hours of tv broadcasts produced in its studios.

Keeping in mind the spirit of public service, UAb is committed to encourage the appropriation and self-construction of knowledge. Its study programs are carefully designed and both technicians and teachers are provided specific training.

Target Students

UAb takes on the fundamental mission of training students who, for various reasons, could not, in due time, enter into or continue university studies. Moreover, the university seeks to meet the expectations of those who, having obtained any higher education degree, wish to convert or update it.

Thus, by vocation, UAb offers educational solutions to adult populations, with life experience and often already engaged in a professional occupation.
To become a student of UAb only requires to be 21 years old or over (or alternatively, to be 18 years old and have the statute of student-employee since the 16 years old) and to carry out a specific exam to enter this university.

UAb is outside the national contest network for access to higher education and its undergraduate programs are not subject to specific vacancies numbers (numerus clausus). Besides, UAb also provides exams specifically designed to evaluate the capacity for attending higher education programs of candidates aged 23 years old and over.

Master's Programmes

Many organisations offer scholarships or grants. Some of these might help you to study for a Master at Universidade Aberta!


Virtual pedagogical model

UAbs pedagogical model is based on e-learning and it relies on the intensive use of new online communication tools. This model promotes interaction between students and teachers and it is deeply focused on students as individuals and active builders of their knowledge. Also, it allows a greater flexibility in learning, in which communication and interaction are conducted according to the students availability, sharing resources, expertise and activities with their peers.

The evaluation of knowledge and skills, based on continuous assessment, assumes diverse solutions. In undergraduate programs, students are provided a learning card in which their work (e-folios, tests, presence-based exams, ) is evaluated and credited. In post-graduation programs, assessment is carried out in many different ways, using for example, portfolios, blogs, projects, essays, problem solving, participation in discussions, reports and tests.

Digital Inclusion

UAb gives an important contribution to the knowledge society and to social inclusion through its digital literacy component: since online teaching requires specific skills from the students, all its certified programs will include a free preparatory course. Students are therefore able to acquire the necessary skills before entering the program in which they have enrolled.

Student Life

1. History

The City of the Seven Hills, as Lisboa has been called, has a long and interesting history. You can learn about its most important aspects in Universidade Abertas leaflet. If you really want to have detailed information on Lisboas history, you can go to the city hall bookshop, Livraria Municipal, where you will find all publications available on every possible aspect of Lisboa.

With a population traditionally catholic, catholic churches are everywhere in the city. Some of them, apart from being religious institutions, are important monuments you should not miss visiting. Sé Catedral (near Castelo de São Jorge) and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (at Belém) are just two of a long list. Among secular monuments, Castelo de São Jorge and Torre de Belém are among the most famous ones.

2. Climate

Portuguese feel that the climate of their country, being in the South of Europe, is nice and temperate. This is probably why so few Portuguese homes, even from wealthy families, have central heating or air conditioners.

If you are coming to Lisboa from the North of Europe you may find summer a little too hot (25 to 32 degrees Celsius). Dont worry, for sure you will enjoy winter (8 to 15 degrees Celsius). If coming from the South, high temperatures wont be a problem for you but you may find winter a little too cold. It is easy though to buy a heater for your room. But be careful, most landlords will increase your rent for the extra energy spent.

Rain comes mostly in winter and snow never falls. Spring can be sometimes windy. The sun shines practically all year round.

3. Transports

The quickest way to move around in Lisboa is the underground. However, the underground does not cover a few suburban areas. If you have to go, on a regular basis, to one of these areas, you should buy an integrated ticket that allows you to ride both the bus and the underground as many times as you wish. There are different tickets (daily, monthly, etc.) at different prices. Apart from those special fares, the maximum you have to pay is, for a single trip, 1,05 and for a return trip, 1,95.

In Lisboa there are still a few of the traditional tramways (elétricos). You should not miss the experience of riding one. A trip from Estrela all the way to the old quarter of Graça, where Castelo de São Jorge is located, is definitely worthwhile.

4. Banks

Portuguese currency is the Euro, which is divided into 100 cents (cêntimos). The euro symbol is and it is written after the number of euros or after the number of cents. A comma separates the euros from the cents. For instance, three hundred euros is written as 300 and three hundred and seventy-five euros and fifty cents is written 375,50.Banks are open from 8.30 am to 3.00 pm. On weekends and public holidays all banks are closed.

When choosing a bank you should see if any of the main banks in Portugal has links to a bank in your country since transfer of money will be easier.

You can easily open an account. Most banks offer students the possibility of opening a student account, which offers certain advantages.

Multibanco cash cards, used by most Portuguese people, allow you to withdraw money from Multibanco automatic machines and to do your payments in many shops. VISA, MasterCard, American Express are among the most popular credit cards. Your credit card pin number enables you to withdraw money from Multibanco automatic machines. But keep in mind that interest rates on money obtained through credit cards are higher.

To change money you can either go to a bank or to an exchange bureau. As in most big cities there are pickpockets in Lisboa. You should not carry with you large amounts of cash. A Multibanco cash card can be a very good alternative.

5. Food

You can choose among a wide variety of options from Portuguese restaurants to Chinese, Indian, Italian and Mexican food. There are also quite a few take away restaurants and fast food cafeterias. McDonalds and Pizza Hut are also represented in Lisboa.

Most restaurants have their menus displayed outside so you can check beforehand the type of food served and the prices charged.

A very simple meal, in a low priced restaurant, in a cafeteria or in a more traditional cake shop (pastelaria) or coffeshop (café) may cost something between 7 and 10 euros.

6. Health care

Everything you need to use the National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde) is to show up at the Health Centre (Centro de Saúde) of your residential area with a document proving that you are a student in Portugal and your passport, or ID card if you come from an EC country. After having been registered there, you will be asked to choose a general practitioner among the ones who work for that particular centre. From then on you will have access to a doctor (known as médico de família) whom you can see after making an appointment, personally or by phone, in the Health Centre.

To see a specialist you will have to go first to your general practitioner who will then arrange for the appointment, generally in a hospital.

In an emergency you can either go to your Health Centre (check their timetable) or directly to the hospital of the area you live in. Further information will be available at the Health Centre.

If you need an ambulance you just have to dial 112, the emergency number also used to call the police and the firemen. It is a free phone number so you dont need coins or phone cards to dial it from public telephones.

7. Water and electricity

The water in Lisboa is safe so you can drink it from the tap and save money on bottles of water.

Electricity in Portugal is supplied at 220 volts. Be sure to check the voltage of the electrical appliances you brought with you. If they are not compatible you will have to have them converted before you use them in this country.

8. Post Office

The Post office agencies open at 8.30 am (some at 9.00 am) and close at 6.00 pm (or at 6.30 pm). There is one at Largo do Rato, close to Universidade Aberta. The one in Praça dos Restauradores, right in front of the underground station, is open from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm. The post-office in the airport is open 24 hours a day.

9. Telephone

To make a phone call from Portugal to an European country you have to dial 00 followed by the country code. For example, to call Universidade Aberta from your own country you dial + 351 213 916 300. To call the same number from anywhere in Portugal you just dial 213 916 300.

10. Books and newspapers

For Portuguese books, one of the oldest and most famous bookshops in Lisboa is Livraria Bertrand where you are supposed to find whatever book you may want to buy (Rua Garrett 73, and Centro Comercial das Amoreiras).

Both in FNAC (in Armazéns do Chiado and Colombo Shopping Centre) and in Livraria Barata (Avenida de Roma, 11) you can buy books on any subject and in several languages. They both close at 11.00 pm.

Livraria Escolar Editora (Campo Grande) is specialised in scientific books in various languages.

There is also a French bookshop (Avenida Marquês de Tomar, 38), an English bookshop (Rua de Luís Fernandes, 14) and a German one (Rua Duque de Palmela).

11. Cultural events

In the monthly free publication Agenda Cultural you can find information on theatre, music, movies, art exhibitions and all other possible cultural events that take place in Lisboa. You can ask Universidade Aberta for a copy.

On this Agenda you will also be able to find the list of museums, the way to get there as well as opening and closing hours. If you want to obtain more detailed information on Portuguese heritage, you can go to the tourism office in Praça dos Restauradores (Palácio Foz).

12. Nightlife

Lisboa has three well known areas for bars and discos. One is the old quarter of Bairro Alto, at a walking distance from Universidade Aberta. It is full of small bars and restaurants.

The other two areas with a very animated nightlife, specially at week-ends, are the area that goes from Largo de Santos until Largo de Alcântara, and the river-side promenade generally know as Docas, close to Alcântara.

13. Parks and gardens

You may try to visit one of the following gardens that are among the most pleasant ones in Lisboa:

  • Jardim Botânico da Ajuda, dating from the XVIII century, was built to receive the plants from distant lands brought home by Portuguese navigators.
  • Jardim Botânico da Faculdade de Ciências has also a great variety of tropical trees and plants and is located on the same street of Universidade Aberta headquarters.
  • Parque Eduardo VII (Marquês de Pombal underground station) has a very nice green house (Estufa Fria).
  • Parque da Fundação Gulbenkian (Palhavã underground station) surrounds the Museum and the Centre of Modern Art.
  • Campo Grande (Campo Grande underground station) is the place to go if you want to skate or take a boat ride at the lake.
  • Jardim da Estrela, an example of the European romantic garden, located at a walking distance from Universidade Aberta, is also worthwhile visiting.

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