Between now and 20 August, secondary finalists can apply for the first phase of the competition, where available places have increased, after last year the national competition for access to higher education registered the highest number of candidates over the last two decades.

In total, universities and polytechnics have provided 52,242 places for the next academic year under the general access competition, according to data provided by the Directorate-General for Higher Education (DGES).

The higher education institutions in Lisbon and Porto represent almost half of the available places, and had the biggest increase with more than 200 additional places, compared to the previous year, in the universities of Porto and Nova de Lisboa.

The University of Aveiro also had a similar increase, due to the opening of three of the 17 new courses that will become available next year and which represent, above all, a focus on technology areas.

The figures released by DGES a week ago also show a 3 percent increase in digital areas, especially in institutions located in regions with less demographic pressure, where the increase was 3.4 percent in these courses and 2 percent in the general offer.

However, and despite the fact that there are more places than those initially made available for the competition, the results of the national exams led to the emergence of some voices that defend an even greater reinforcement.

This year, final grades dropped in almost all subjects, to values ​​close to the average classifications obtained in 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic, with a particularly significant reduction in Mathematics A, one of the most important subjects for admission in higher education (it went from 13.3 to 10.6).

This difference can now create inequalities between students who apply for higher education with the test grade taken last year and those who use this year's test, a warning initially made by the Portuguese Society of Mathematics (SPM), and also pointed out by National Union for Higher Education (SNESup).

Like the Mathematics teachers, the president of SNESup also agrees that the increase in the number of places could compensate for this year's finalists, but Mariana Gaio Alves defends this reinforcement mainly as a bet on higher education.

"Our final grades are still low compared to other European countries", she commented, considering that the increase already registered compared to last year is positive, but "still little", and also defending the improvement of the conditions of the institutions.

The exceptional increase is not, however, the intention of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

As in previous years, the application is made online, through the website of the Directorate-General for Higher Education (, where you can also request the password required to applying for higher education.

On this same page it is possible to have access to all information about available courses, vacancies and access conditions.

This year, students can also access the application system using citizen card authentication or digital mobile key.

The results of the 1st phase of the competition should be known on 27 September.