Universities in Portugal have an old tradition. The first University was founded in 1289 in Coimbra, as a response to the growing need for education, dissemination of knowledge and exchange of ideas, as well as communication with other European Universities. This tradition has remained to this day in which universities are fundamental institutions in Portuguese society.
Universidade NOVA de Lisboa was founded on the 11th of August 1973, and is the youngest of Lisbon’s three state Universities. Integrated within a framework of expansion and diversification of higher education, the University adopted a new model within the Portuguese system that stressed interdisciplinary approaches, technological developments while, at the same time, safeguarding offerings in traditional academic domains including medicine, sciences and humanities.
The founding of NOVA was a response to an ever-increasing demand for higher education in Portugal, in general, and in the city of Lisbon, in particular. Since its inception, NOVA has aimed to innovate higher education in Portugal and to contribute to the social and economic development of the country.
Following its first four years of existence, the initial model was adapted in order to carry out the University’s commitment towards excellence in teaching and research.
During its first years, the University cantered its offerings mainly on graduate and specialist programs, but since the end of 1977 NOVA has been steadily expanding its offerings.
NOVA is a decentralised University; its Faculties and Institutes enjoy a great deal of autonomy. In the academic year 2009/2010, NOVA had 18.343 enrolled students, 1 449 teachers, 769 non-academic staff and 237 researchers.