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Universidade de Coimbra

Located in the center of Portugal, the University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in the world. It is home to eight colleges (or “faculties”), including Letters, Law, Medicine, Sciences and Technology, Pharmacy, Economics, Psychology and Education Sciences, and Sports Sciences and Physical Education. It is a public university.

Some Campus History

University of CoimbraWith its original name of Studium Generale and original location in Lisbon, the university was founded in 1290 by King Dinis, and confirmed later that same year by Pope Nicholas IV. In accordance with papal rulings, the first colleges (or faculties) to be founded were arts, civil law, canon law , and medicine. In 1308, the university moved to Coimbra. In 1338, the university returned to Lisbon, and in 1354 again was re-settled in Coimbra. In 1377, the university again returned to Lisbon, and in 1537 was permanently re-settled in Coimbra. For almost three centuries, it was the only university in Portugal (from its foundation in 1290 until 1559), and again between 1759 and 1911 when University of Lisbon and University of Porto were founded. It is Portugal’s oldest university, and one of the oldest universities in the world.

University of Coimbra Today

campuslocation-coimbra_200x292.jpgWhile its roots are ancient, the campus has seen tremendous expansion in the past 30 to 40 years and is considered the top Portuguese-speaking university in the world. The University of Coimbra today is actually made up of several campuses spread throughout the city of Coimbra: Pólo I, the original core from the 1500s, with expansions in the 1700s and again in the 1950s and 1960s; Pólo II, built during the 1990s, houses the engineering, sciences & technology faculties; Pólo III, built during the 1980s with expansion in recent years, houses medicine, pharmacy and the university hospital; the Faculdade de Economia, or social sciences, was built in the 1970s; and the sports sciences college and complex was built during the late 1990s.

The university is also home to several entrepreneurial research centers, among them, GATS Knowledge Transfer Support Unit, Instituto Pedro Nunes, a business incubator, and the Instituto de Investigação Interdisciplinar.

As Portugal’s most international university, Coimbra is home to over 20,000 students and more than 1,600 faculty members. The students are a diverse group, coming from all over Europe and many other countries, in particular Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, S. Tomé e Príncipe and Guiné-Bissau, as well as Macao and Timor Lorosae.

The university is also rich in its diverse resources, which include a very large central library, botanical gardens, a stadium and sports complex, an astronomical observatory, and a publishing house, among others.

Student Life

The University of Coimbra offers a great deal of activities to its students, with an active social life and strong academic traditions . The first big event is the “Latada” that happens at the beginning of the school year (typically in October), to welcome the new students (“Caloiros”). The main event of the year is “Queima das Fitas,” taking place in May for eight days, one day for each college.

The student association (AAC) is the largest in Portugal and has many offerings for students, from sports (volleyball, basketball, football, canoeing, athletics, swimming) to music (all kinds of choirs and music groups, from popular to classic to jazz, etc.) to cultural (theater, photography, dance) and media (radio, journalism).

Partnership with Carnegie Mellon

The University of Coimbra partners with Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science to offer a dual-degree Masters of Software Engineering program (MSE). The Master of Software Engineering is an advanced program explicitly designed to educate the future leaders of industrial software engineering practice. It aims at training graduates for effectively managing teams, projects and processes, as well as large scale software development.

The program is offered as a dual degree. Successful students receive a diploma from the University of Coimbra as well as a Master of Software Engineering (MSE) degree from Carnegie Mellon.

Because of the high caliber of this program and its importance to Portugal’s broader information technology sector, several Portuguese software companies including Novabase, Portugal Telecom, Critical-Software, EDISOFT, Wipro, Wit-Software, ISA, and Telbit, will cover all tuition costs plus a sixteen month living stipend, and will offer full-time positions to successful graduates of the program.

For more information, see the MSE website at Carnegie Mellon, the MSE website at the University of Coimbra, and the related article about the scholarships.