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Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

6.7Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 8 June 2022

One of the goals of post-secondary non-tertiary education is to expand the provision of specialised technological courses, which provide high-level technical training.

Specialised technological courses (Cursos de Especialização Tecnológica - CET) offer specialised training pathways in different technological areas, developing professional skills and competences. These courses facilitate entry into the job market or further studies in higher education. This level may be given credit in the higher education course chosen by the student.

According to Decree-Law No 88/2006, 23 May, the creation and implementation of CET in training institutions is the responsibility of the competent ministry, subject to the training institution’s proposal, after consulting the Technical Commission for Post-Secondary Technological Training. According to Article 35 of the same decree-law, non-observance of the scientific and pedagogical criteria that justified the creation and authorisation of a CET will lead to its cancellation.

Types of institutions

Post-secondary non-tertiary education is taught through specialised technological courses (known as CET), which can operate in:

  • public, private and cooperative schools.
  • vocational training centres of the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP, IP).
  • technological schools.
  • other accredited training institutions.

Statistical data on students enrolled in CET by type of institution:

Table 1 - Post-secondary non-tertiary education – students enrolled/registered, by type of institution, 2019/2020

Type of Provision


Type of Institution





5 670

5 629


Source: DGEEC, Education Statistics 2019/2020

In terms of CET provision overseen by IEFP, I.P., the following data is available:

Table 2 - Youth Qualifications – Number of students, 2019/20

Type of Programme

Total of students

Specialised technological courses (CET)

2 416

Source: IEFP, I.P. “Physical and financial performance: monthly report”. February 2020.

Geographical accessibility

There is no legislation regarding geographical accessibility of specialised technological courses.

These courses are available throughout Portugal.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Specialised technological courses are designed for people who:

  • have finished their upper secondary education or equivalent.
  • hold a level-4 QNQ qualification.
  • have passed all their subjects on grades 10 and 11 and attended grade 12 but have failed to finish it, or people who have a legally recognised equivalent qualification.
  • possess a technological specialisation certificate or a higher education degree or certificate and wish to retrain.

Age levels and grouping of students

Students attending specialised technological courses are 18 or older.

The organisation of classes and grouping of students per class is decided by each training institution.

Organisation of the school year

There is no legislation regarding organisation of the school year. In general, courses run throughout the year, with different start and end dates, and with traditional breaks at Christmas and Easter (frequently shorter than in general education). The training centres usually close in August. Not every CET is provided every school year.

The opening of CET in a given academic year presupposes a minimum number of participants, to be defined by the responsible body.

Organisation of the school day and week

Specialised technological courses (CET) last between a year and 18 months, which corresponds to between 60 and 90 credits (ECTS).

The CET training plan includes general and scientific training, technological training and work-based training.

The general and scientific training, as well as the technological training components, last between 840 and 1 020 hours, each being allocated 15 % and 85 % of the total length of the course, respectively.

The technological training component, involving practical, laboratory, workshop and/or project activities, must be allocated at least 75% of classroom sessions.

Work-based training may last between 360 and 720 hours.

For more information on specialised technological courses, see DGEEC, ANQEP I.P. , IEFP and IAPMEI I.P. websites.