Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find the answers to the most frequently asked questions addressed to the Agency.

The simplified assessment regime will consist of not carrying out an exhaustive evaluation of all study programmes using a visit by an External Assessment Team (EAT). Thus, in the 2nd regular cycle of assessment and accreditation, in areas of proven quality, a complete assessment will be carried out, with a visit, only for a sampling of study programmes.

The determination of which areas and study programmes will be subject to assessment with a visit from the respective EAT and which ones will be subject to documentary assessment and, therefore, will dispense the visit, will be preceded by a meeting with the institutions that have an Internal Quality Assurance System certified.

The requirements for the application of the referred regime can be consulted in the document A simplified and more flexible assessment regime for the 2nd cycle of assessment / accreditation of study programmes available on the A3ES website.

Although, according to the applicable legal framework, the initiative for the renewal of the accreditation of a study programme falls within the responsibility of the concerned higher education institution, the Agency has been alerting each institution about the study programmes that must be submitted each year to the ACEF or PERA process whenever they wish to apply for renewal of their accreditation.
In the event that the institution does not wish to renew the accreditation of a study programme and therefore does not submit the corresponding ACEF guidelines within the period indicated, the accreditation of the study programme ends at the end of the normal period of validity of the accreditation that had been granted. As of that date, the provisions of Resolution No. 53/2012 on the effects of non-accreditation of study programmes in operation would apply.

Taking into account the need to maintain the alignment of the evaluation of study programmes in operation with the year of the regular cycle in which the respective education and training area is evaluated, the reference date for the start of the period of validity of the accreditation of a study programme shall be fixed by reference to the year in which the application for accreditation or renewal of accreditation has been submitted to the Agency, irrespective of the date on which the accreditation decision is made or communicated to the requesting institution.

This date is regulated by Resolution No. 1/2018 of A3ES, dated April 24, published in Diário da República, 2nd series, No. 93, of May 15, which establishes, in its paragraph 1:

"1. The period of validity of the accreditation of a study programme submitted through a process ACEF n/(n + 1), NCE n or PERA n/(n + 1) begins counting from July 31 of the year (n+1) irrespective of whether the date of the accreditation decision is earlier, coincident or subsequent to that reference date. "

However, in the case of conditional accreditation, the deadline for compliance with the conditions set out in the accreditation is counted from the date of notification of the decision to the institution.

Any person or entity wishing to submit a complaint or suggestion may do so by email, to the address The Agency has a procedure for handling complaints and suggestions in order to provide a timely response.

The deliberation defines the characterizing elements of a study programme that an institution may change following their approval by the institutional bodies and registration at the Directorate General of Higher Education, to be published in the Official Journal, without the need to submit a new accreditation process.

The provisions of this deliberation shall not apply to changes to the characterising elements of a study programme approved in an evaluation/accreditation process, namely those provided in the final section of the Guidelines for Self-Assessment of Study Programme in Operation.

It is considered that a teacher is in full-time in a particular HEI when the activity of teaching / research performed in the institution is his/her exclusive or predominant professional activity.

A teacher cannot therefore be in full-time in more than one institution, of higher education or another.

No, it is not necessary to make this submission, since the Agency does not change its records following that communication. The reaction to the notification is a responsibility of the DGES that when appropriate, consults A3ES. On this issue one should be take into account the notification of the Agency 47/12 - L, of April 17.

As stipulated by the Administration Council of A3ES in June 19, the mentioned period goes from 3 September to 15 October 2012.

1. The decision not to accredit a degree programme in operation, by A3ES, has the legal consequence of the termination of the authorization of its operation, from the moment that decision is forwarded to the HEI;

2. This implies that, from that moment, no new students may be enrolled in the degree programme;

3. The degree programme may, however, continue to operate for two more academic years, with the students previously registered, in order to enable them to complete the programme;

4. The non-accreditation of a degree programme which was earlier operating regularly does not mean, either to the HEI or for students enrolled in the programme, any effects other than those mentioned. So, all degrees and diplomas awarded under the previous authorization of operation, until the cessation of normal functioning of the course, maintain full validity and effectiveness.


The institutional audit process was initiated on an experimental basis during the academic year 2011/2012, for a small number of institutions with a consistent practice of application of tools and procedures for internal quality assurance, and which have volunteered to participate in the experiential exercise.

From the academic year 2012/2013 onwards it is expected that the process of institutional audit will work normally, on a voluntary basis for the institutions.

As stated in its activity plans, the Agency foresees to introduce a simplified scheme for the accreditation of programmes for institutions that, as a consequence of an institutional audit, have their internal quality assurance systems certified by A3ES and cumulatively comply with certain requirements of excellence that will be fixed in due course. However, this simplification process can only be introduced in the next cycle of accreditation, after 2016, since all degree programmes in operation must undergo an evaluation and accreditation process in the current accreditation cycle ending in 2015/2016.


In the case of changes within the scope of institutional autonomy, according to the clauses established by articles 75th to 80th of Decree Law 74/2006, of 24th March, updated by Decree Law 107/2008, of 25th June, such changes do not need an accreditation decision by A3ES. Once approved by the appropriate bodies within the HEI, they must be communicated to Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior (General Directorate of Higher Education) and published in the Official Journal before they are implemented. 

If the foreseen changes do not fit in the scope of the institutional autonomy, then he degree programme must be submitted to A3ES for accreditation as a new degree programme, under the terms of articles 52nd to 60th of the aforementioned Decree Law.


It is the understanding of the Ministry that oversees higher education that Portuguese HEIs wishing to offer degree programmes in the PALOP countries have two alternatives:

a) The programme is offered as a local programme, under the laws of the country where the programme is taught. In this case it does not require accreditation by A3ES.

b) The programme is offered as a Portuguese programme. In this case it requires the prior accreditation by A3ES and the existence of a bilateral agreement between the governments of that country and Portugal, which allows for an intervention of the Portuguese authorities in that country, for example at the level of the Inspectorate General of Higher Education and of the Agency.


1) As established in Title VI - Changes - paragraphs 75th, 76th, 77th and 80th of Decree-Law No. 74/2006, and amended by Decree No. 107/2008 of June 25, the approval of changes in curricula and other elements that determine a degree programme, "which do not alter their goals" (which do not alter the curricular structure, the scientific nature, or the name of the programme when this is an essential element for  its characterisation) is up to the statutorily competent bodies of the HEI (in public higher education institutions, the rector or president, after consulting the scientific or technical-scientific council and the pedagogical council; in private higher education institutions, the founding body, after consulting the rector, president or director, the scientific or technical-scientific council and the pedagogical council).

2) Once approved by the statutorily competent bodies of the HEI, the implementation of the amendments is subject to "prior notice" to the Directorate General of Higher Education and to publication in the 2nd series of the Official Journal.


No. The curricular files should be filled only in Portuguese.

Until the conditions for awarding the "title of specialist", referred to in Decree-Law No. 206/2009 of 31 August, to meet the legal requirements for the composition of the academic staff of polytechnic institutions, and taking into account the provisions of paragraph 2 a) of article 6th, in paragraph 2 a) of article 16t and in paragraph 2 a) of article 57th of Decree-Law No. 74/2006 of 24 March and in paragraphs 48th and 49th of Law No. 62/2007 of 10 September, the Agency, until the end of 2014, will provisionally consider as an "expert" a staff member that meets cumulatively the following conditions:

a) Holds a higher education degree;

b) Has at least 10 years of professional experience in the area where teaching is to be carried on;

c) Has professional experience of proven quality and relevance to the profession in that area, as confirmed and accepted by the technical-scientific body of the HEI.


The form must be completed online by the person of the HEI responsible for the accreditation process of the degree programme and can only be closed and submitted by the head of the HEI.

User names and passwords of those responsible for founding entities and higher education institutions, as well as the heads of higher education establishments, have been sent by A3ES to the institutional heads. User names and passwords of those in charge of the proceedings within the HEI will be sent automatically by the information system to the institutional heads, after submission of the preliminary presentation for the previous accreditation of a new degree programme or the accreditation of a degree programme in operation.

As determined in the legal framework, the accreditation only applies to higher education institutions and their study cycles. Therefore, the previous accreditation of diplomas that do not confer a degree is not foreseen.

These changes are a responsibility of the higher education institution provided the weight of the different scientific areas in the curricular structure is not changed.

The Agency prepared a study on this subject in 2010, available online, which includes a set of reference points for internal quality assurance systems aiming at supporting and guiding HEI in the design and development of their quality systems. An Institutional Audit Process was meanwhile developed to assess and certify HEI’s internal quality assurance systems on a voluntary basis. A Manual for the Audit Process was approved in July 2011, specifying not only the reference points but also the target areas and the criteria to be adopted in the audit process.