Mission, Vision and Strategy


To serve Portugal through innovative research and excellent, internationally bent education, aimed at promoting sustainable development in the spirit of christian humanism. 



To be a leader in global education and in the production of science for the common good.


Strategic priorities for the 2016-2020 rectorial mandate

UCP in the 21st century

I – Starting Point

Created in 1967 by the Holy See decree Lusitanorum Nobilissima Gens, the Universidade Católica Portuguesa has become, in just under 50 years, one of the most prominent universities in Portugal. This achievement is the result of the proven quality of its teaching, its trailblazing ethos (in areas such as Business Administration and, subsequently, Biotechnology), its prominence in the enactment of the third mission of universities, its service to communities and its relationship with the business world. With 10,195 students enrolled in diploma-conferring degrees (this figure increasing to 13,000 with the inclusion of executive programmes), UCP has maintained a quantitatively stable student population and is now witnessing, in some areas, a noticeable growth in international students. This longue durée internationalisation project has been an exceptional opportunity for the University, and one which is not limited to student recruitment, but which primarily focuses on this institution’s place among first-rate academic institutions at an international level, therefore underpinning the aim of establishing UCP among the best Catholic universities worldwide.

The University faces six key challenges over this four-year term. The first three are of an endogenous nature and aim:


  • to counter the balkanisation and dispersal of resources and to work interconnectedly – not uniformly – towards an organic organisational culture which is productively dialogic and fosters creativity;
  • to create a sustainable business model grounded on responsibility, countering inefficiency, managing resources interconnectedly, and adjusting structure and supply to demand within the specialised academic community and to the reality of the Higher Education market;
  • to master talent retention and to develop the highest standards of quality in order to preserve UCP’s competitiveness.

Three further challenges, of an exogenous nature, should also be considered:

  • the imminent ‘demographic winter’ and the consequent need to reach new target audiences by developing, among others, a tailored international project;
  • the constraints in scientific funding, both as regards the allocation and distribution of public funds in Portugal, and the advent of new ‘financing’ paradigms;
  • the transformation of universities and of teaching models in the digital age.

Mindful of both its strengths and of the challenges it faces, UCP shall fulfil its public service mission and shall continue on the very same path which has led it to assert its goal to be among the best Catholic universities by 2020, while being aware that the University’s progress is contingent on its willingness to take on risk and that, to this end, and in order to be at the forefront, it should productively transgress the boundaries of knowledge, experiment and explore, in pursuit of the noble goal of improving the human condition.


II – Strategic goals:

The type of university being advocated here is one which offers solid teaching and innovative research, which is enterprising, creative, technologically and scientifically adept, and which favours research for instead of research about human beings.

The present mandate undertakes to follow the four-pronged strategy adopted by UCP’s Board of Governors in 2015, namely:

  • to position research as a fundamental mainstay of teaching;
  • to instill a model of comprehensive internationalization as its institucional commitment;
  • to develop according to a model of smart specialisation, underpinned by ethical comprehensiveness;
  • to promote the financial sustainability of academic and research projects.

And to undertake a further strategic goal:

  • to promote innovation by developing knowledge transfer initiatives and by fostering the University’s digital overhaul.

As such, several indicators will be established to quantify and to monitor the way the University as a whole – both in its academic units and its R&D centres – is mapping, analysing and applying procedures to develop its strategic goals. These goals will be quantified based on individual assessments of these units and will occur in close collaboration with the Rectory.


III - Priorities

The present mandate is alive to the need to clarify, to its stakeholders, its investment and development priorities. These priorities are large-scale in nature, namely:

  • Ensuring the University’s financial stability;

Launch of the Católica@50 Campaign (2017-2022).

  • Developing efficiency by building trust and encouraging innovation and the creative vanguard.
  • Ensuring quality monitoring in research and doctoral training.
  • Renewing its commitments.

These relate to infrastructure, in the case of the proposed construction of the new executive building for the Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics (CLSBE); to its R&D profile, in the case of the ESB – Amyris partnership and the new building for the Faculty of Biotechnology; and are otherwise academic and financial in nature, in the case of its Medicine degree.

  • Actively promoting an inclusive University model.

In addition to these large-scale priorities, we will also work towards the specialised development of innovative projects in Faculties (centres, laboratories, common spaces and libraries), as well as towards empowering individuals (students, lecturers and collaborators) through funding applications for scholarships and teaching positions. Specific intervention measures will also be enacted, through restructuring into transdisciplinary clusters with own incentives. These will be sustained by profit margins from surplus-generating units, while at the same time fostering a more efficient use of academic and structural resources, and managing change with shared responsibilities between all actors in the system.


IV - Initiatives

Following on from the general adopted strategies, four strategic initiatives are proposed:

  • The Católica 4.0 initiative encompasses a modernisation and digital overhaul plan which focuses on simplification, speeding up the interaction between users and the enhancement of responsibility. This is an initiative aligned with the academic and scientific strategy which draws on the 4.0 technological revolution to promote the renewal of infrastructure and of teaching and research models, as well as organisational change and, as a consequence, behavioural change. The initiative will focus on the development of real-time information models, mobile applications and cloud computing, fostering a culture of participation and collaboration. Digital renovation is a strategically integrated institutional commitment aiming to avoid the duplication of work and resources.
  • The Católica-Talentos initiative sets forth a 360-degree approach to talent management, diversifying access, retaining the best students, promoting accessibility of national and international students and articulating this focused growth with exacting but shrewd management of university careers. The aim of this initiative is to optimize recruitment, promote the development of academic talent, establish rigorous and appropriate performance indicators for each area of knowledge, encourage retention of the very best (students and lecturers) and develop an incentive system appropriate to each unit.
  • The Católica I&I initiative (Católica Research and Innovation) is guided by the principles of Quality, Differentiation and Collaboration. In order to respond to the challenge of growing complexity, the collaborative model is reinforced and the intersectional ethos of humanistic thought is emphasised in scientific practices. The initiative includes strengthening assessment models for quality of research and productivity of R&D units and, by extension, the quality of Doctoral training, as well as knowledge transfer indicators connected with knowledge units in businesses. This initiative includes the creation of the Católica eLab, an idea accelerator which brings students, researchers, lecturers and businesses together in non-geographically restricted collaborative projects; as well as the Católica Doctoral School.
  • The Campus-Cultura initiative – Since art is also a knowledge-maker and the cultivation of beauty is a desideratum of human action, the mission of this initiative is to ensure the University is a space which is open to art, fostering site-specific artistic intervention in its various campuses and asserting the University as a curatorial object in itself, as opposed to merely being a producer of knowledge about curation. These initiatives are informed by a model called the ‘studio university’. A university that is a studio rather than a factory, that develops its activity around creative singularity. That does not work towards the aim of being identical, but rather privileges difference of identity, first and foremost, but also difference in is strategic choices, in its selection of priorities, in its focus on innovation, in its support for creativity.

As such, we understand that UCP is not an accomplished task. It is a venture and it is risk. We will contribute to develop a project solidly built on values, set in a university that thinks and works in total freedom, a university without walls, technologically and humanely open to the challenges of the 21st century.


Isabel Capeloa Gil

25th november 2016