Science and Technology

Oil, Naval, or Industrial Management: what are international students looking for?

Técnico’s Master’s degree programmes are attracting an increasing number of international students. We met with program coordinators to learn more about their efforts.

In order for a Master’s programme to be successful (…) two basic characteristics are required: the ability to attract talented foreign students and to offer a degree that provides graduates with secure employment opportunities outside Portugal.” This statement comes from Professor Amílcar Soares, the coordinator of the Mas- ter’s programme in Petroleum Engineering at Técnico, and reflects IST’s increasing focus on the international standing of its programmes.

In fact, much has been done over the last several years to enhance Técnico’s international position either by implementing mobility pro- grammes that allow foreign students to study for a semester or longer at Técnico and by increasing the admission of international degree-seeking students that complete their pro- grammes in the same way that Portuguese students do. Amongst the Master’s programmes, the areas of Petroleum Engineering, Engineering and Naval Architecture, Engineering and Energy Management, and Indus- trial Engineering and Management are those that have the highest share of international students within Técnico.

In some cases, as in Engineering and Energy Management, enrollment of degree-seeking foreign students is already very high (last year, in this Master’s degree programme alone, 15 of the 27 enrolled students were foreigners); in others, as in Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM), there is a record number of international students, participating in mobility programmes.

“This is a field of study with a broad scope, in which all classes at MSc level [as it is common practice in Técnico] are taught in English, and that is is largely appreciated, inter- nationally,” explains Professor Ana Póvoa, coordinator of the Master’s degree programme in IEM. “There are no problems with the job market here, all students have jobs – in Portugal and abroad – and that is why this has become a highly sought-after programme”.

In the case of Petroleum Engineering, according to Professor Amílcar Soares, there are some key features that make Técnico “the Portuguese school that is best prepared to com- pete internationally in education and research”: its affiliation with the Center for Modelling Petroleum Reservoirs (a world class center), the international outlook of its teaching and research activities which has led to the creation of a network of partner schools where students can do internships, in a really close connection with the industry. Despite its short history (the programme is only in its third year of operation having been created in 2012), MEP has been a very good example in terms of attracting international students.

And who are these students interested in Técnico? Regarding IEM, Ana Póvoa explains that many of them come either from the Nordic countries, Italy, Spain, Venezuela, or Argentina. “But we have students from all over the world,” she adds. To keep pace with the growing interest, a special contingent of applications was created: besides the 30 places available annually to students who have not completed the degree in IEM at Técnico (and that have immediate entry into the Master’s programme), there are ten additional vacancies for non-European students.

The results are clear, and Técnico is increasingly viewed as a top inter- national school. Other effects? “The interactions between Portuguese and foreign students has led to some romantic relationships,” recalls Professor Ana Póvoa.