The European ideal of a university: Portugal’s views from the 1950s and 1960s

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This study stems from research on the ‘Standing Conferences of Rectors and Vice-Chancellors of the European Universities' (1948–), an experimental initiative for co-operation among European universities, emphasising the reformative ideal that appeared in international circles in the years following the Second World War. These conceptions were gradually received in the sphere of Portuguese national education, enabling an internal and already on-going debate on the role of the university in Portugal to proceed and possibly providing a base for a ‘last-minute’ and delayed attempt to reform higher education in Portugal during the 1970s – just before the outbreak of the Revolution in 1974. Based on a historiographical methodology, this article attempts to understand how and in what shape recommendations from international circles (mainly from these European University Conferences) were assimilated by the thought and philosophical insights of the Portuguese elite, mainly concerning the gauge of National Education and the concept of the university. Thus, an effort is made to understand the official view of the Portuguese ‘New State’ regarding the ‘aims of the university’, contextualising the Portuguese higher education problem in the 1950s and 1960s, and in its relation to Portuguese national science policy rationales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-67
Number of pages28
JournalJournal Of Educational Administration And History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • cultural history
  • Europe
  • history
  • history of ideas
  • history of science
  • science policies
  • university


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