Following the recent development of quality assurance systems, namely those in the European space, the Portuguese state has decided to create the "Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior" (Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education - A3ES), by Decree-Law no. 369/2007, of 5th November, with the purpose of promoting and ensuring the quality of higher education.
The Agency is a private law foundation, established for an indeterminate period of time, with legal status and recognised as being of public utility. The Agency is independent in its decisions which must take into account the guidelines prescribed by the State.
The assessment and accreditation regime to be developed by the Agency is defined in Law no. 38/2007, of 16th August.
A3ES is responsible for promoting quality provision in higher education, assessing and accrediting higher education institutions (HEIs) and their degree programmes, and promoting the integration of Portugal in the European system of quality assurance of higher education.
The main objective of A3ES is to promote the improvement of the performance of higher education institutions and their study programmes and to guarantee the fulfilment of the basic requirements for their official recognition.
This objective is pursued through the assessment and accreditation activities carried out by the Agency, and the promotion of an internal quality assurance culture within higher education institutions.
The mission of A3ES is to contribute to improving the quality of Portuguese higher education, through the assessment and accreditation of higher education institutions and their study programmes, and to ensure the integration of Portugal in the European quality assurance system of higher education.