A simplified and more flexible regime for the 2nd cycle of assessment/accreditation of study programmes

Law No. 38/2007 of 16 August (framework law for the assessment of higher education) establishes that quality assessment is mandatory and periodic (e.g., article 7 and &9 of article 19). The same law does not contemplate any provision that would allow either the institutions or their study programmes to be exempt from this periodic assessment obligation.

However, &5 of article 6 of Decree-Law No. 369/2007, of 5 November, which establishes the Agency for the Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education and approves its statutes, states that “the rules relating to the accreditation procedure and its relationship to the evaluation procedure are approved by the Agency's Management Board”, which is in line with the possibility of more flexible assessment and accreditation processes, where appropriate.

Therefore, according to what was announced in due course, A3ES proposes to adopt, in the new cycle of assessment and accreditation of study programmes in operation, an intermediate system whereby, in situations of manifest above average quality, it will apply a more flexible methodology for the assessment of study programmes. This methodology will consist of not carrying out a thorough evaluation of all study programmes, in particular by means of a site-visit by an external assessment team (EAT). The areas with this type of treatment will be those where there is a combination of the following factors:


  1. Have an Internal Quality Assurance System certified by A3ES;
  2. Have had all study programmes accredited, without conditions, in the first assessment/ accreditation cycle;
  3. In the case of university education, have a level of research which has been graded with at least Very Good in the international assessment of their research centre(s) in the core scientific area(s) of the study programme;


In the case of polytechnic education, when carrying out high-level applied research and/ or professional, technological or artistic development activities, or the provision of services to the community and advanced training of significant relevance in the core scientific area(s) of the study programme.

The determination of which area(s) and study programmes will be assessed with a visit from the respective EAT, and those will only be the subject of documentary assessment and, therefore, exempt from the visit, will be preceded by a meeting with the heads of the institutions with an Internal Quality Assurance System certified by A3ES.