Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Adult education and training funding


3.Funding in education

3.3Adult education and training funding

Last update: 29 March 2024

Main funding principles

Adult education and training provided by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security are funded by both the state budget and the Human Capital Operational Programme (HCOP) (Programa Operacional do Capital Humano- PO CH), which is part of the Portugal 2020 strategy and the Programme Pessoas 2030, which is part of Portugal 2030.

As part of its Area 3 - Lifelong Learning, Qualification and Improved Employability, the PO CH accepts applications from bodies associated with adult education and training, as shown in the following table.

What provision is planned? Who can apply? For who?
Qualifica Centres Promoters of Qualifica Centres Adults aged 18 or over and, exceptionally, young people who are not in education or training and who are not working, with priority for the Qualifica Centres being given to the following recipients: a) Those who have not completed upper secondary education; b) Those with poor qualifications, in particular those who have not completed basic education; c) Those who are illiterate or have very low levels of literacy; d) Those with incomplete qualification paths, of an educational or professional nature; also including those whose knowledge needs to be updated and retrained, as provided for in Article 2 of Ordinance No. 62/2022, 31 January.
Apprenticeship course Employment and Vocational Training Institute Young people who have completed Grade 9 or higher, without completing upper secondary education (Grade 12)
Adult Education and Training Courses Public vocational schools and bodies which manage private vocational schools, public educational establishments, bodies that own private and cooperative education establishments and the Employment and Vocational Training Institute Adults who have not completed basic or upper secondary education and who aim to complete any cycle of non-higher education or who wish to obtain a vocational certification.
Recurrent education courses Public vocational schools and bodies that own private vocational schools, public educational establishments, bodies that own private and cooperative education institutions Students who have not completed upper-secondary education

The HCOP is funded by the European Social Fund (85 %), with the remaining 15 % paid out by public funds that are part of the state budget. Applications must be made through the Balcão 2020 online platform.

Expenditure eligible for support under the HCOP, in accordance with Ordinance No 60-A/2015, 2 March, amended by Ordinance No 122/2016, 4 May, includes:

  1. expenditure on trainees, the cost of scholarships, food, transport and accommodation, as well as other expenditure on trainees, such as support for their dependents,
  2. expenditure on trainers and consultants, the costs of remuneration and other teacher and trainer expense.
  3. expenditure on other associated non-teaching staff, remuneration for management, technicians, administrative staff, socio-cultural mediators and personal and social mediators, and other staff involved in operational design, preparation, development, management, monitoring and assessment.
  4. rents, leases and amortisations, expenses related to the lease or amortisation of equipment directly related to operations, and spending on rent or amortisation of premises where training takes place, as well as the lease or amortization of vehicles used to transport trainees and other participants, without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 4, article 16.
  5. direct costs associated with the preparation, development, monitoring and assessment of operations; spending on preparation of needs analyses; dissemination of operations; selection of trainees and other participants; the purchase, preparation and reproduction of teaching materials; acquisition of books and documentation; spending on teaching materials; travel expenses incurred by the group that are associated with training and specialised technical services related to the assessment of projects and general results, except those provided for in sub-paragraph c).
  6. general project costs, other expenses necessary for the design, development and management of operations, such as running costs on energy, water, communications, consumables and non-durable goods, overheads for maintenance of equipment and premises, expenses related to legal advice, notary fees, as well as technical and financial expertise.

Until 30 September 2022, the HCOP supported 38,362 trainees on apprenticeship courses, via a total approved eligible investment of EUR 361 million, of which EUR 307 million are ESF support.

Fees paid by learners

The only training that required the payment of a fee by learners is part of the Training Initiative for Entrepreneurs. At basic education level, that initiative involved paying a 250-euro enrolment fee, which would be refunded when training was successfully completed.

At advanced level, the learner was obliged to pay an enrolment fee of EUR 250 which was not refunded.

Financial support for adult learners

In relation to adult education and training provision, training grants or other social benefits can be given to trainees, particularly the unemployed, those at risk of social exclusion, those at risk of becoming unemployed or those with disabilities, in accordance with the law in force.

On adult education and training courses, trainees receive a training grant or other forms of socio-educational assistance from the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Labour. The central and regional departments of each ministry are responsible for stipulating the number and value of the grants to be awarded to each training area, as well as for monitoring the academic progress of trainees.

Subsidies for private providers

According to Ordinance No. 86/2022, 4 February, rectified by Declaration of Rectification No. 9/2022, 14 March, and Ordinance No. 66/2022, 1 February, as amended by Ordinance No. 333/2023, 3 November,  “adult education and training courses and modular training are organised by public, private or cooperative entities, such as education institutions, vocational training centres, municipalities, enterprises or business associations, trade unions and local, regional and national associations […] provided they are part of the training entities network within the national qualifications system.”

According to Decree-Law No. 4/98, 8 January, private vocational schools can apply for public funding towards the expenses involved in the vocational courses they organise. This funding takes the shape of a multi-annual contract-programme with the state.

In addition to this, they can benefit from special access to non-refundable grants and subsidised credit for the acquisition, construction and equipping of private or cooperative education establishments and others specifically created for vocational education and training.

Apart from training centres directly managed by IEFP, there are also private education institutions that teach adult education and training courses, but they belong to a network that is validated and certified by the state, and unded by the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional – IEFP, IP). According to  Decree-Law No. 165/85, 16 May, these partially managed vocational training centres can receive IEFP funds of up to 95% of their current expenses and 100 % of their capital expenses.

These centres are a result of protocols between IEFP and one or more associations and entities that represent employers and social associations of several economic activity sectors. The idea was to involve both the employers and other social partners in the training and qualification of human resources, of which they would benefit the most. In addition to this, employers and professional/workers associations can more easily express their specific needs in terms of human resources and professional skills and certifications, as well as sharing expected future developments and assessing the quality of the training given.

Private education institutions can also have their courses certified without receiving any type of public funding. In this case, the funding will be achieved through student fees. These institutions can apply for European funding, which means that students fees vary according to the level of support provided.

In addition, any public or private institution can apply for European programme funds, such as the Human Capital Operational Programme, whose 3rd Priority Axis focusses on improving adult population qualifications, supporting young people and adults that didn’t complete upper secondary education, together with the adults that didn’t complete basic or upper secondary education. By promoting better adult qualifications it improves employability, focussing on certified training and Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences processes.

There is also support for learning mobility and transnational cooperation that, in Portugal, is managed by the National Agency for Erasmus+ (Agência Nacional Erasmus+), through Key Action 1 (learning mobility of individuals) and Key Action 2 (cooperation among organisations and institutions).