UC has a cosmopolitan student body, excellent academic staff, high quality teaching and research.
The University is in the centre of the city, surrounded by its three campuses providing education and training in a wide variety of study fields, and several sports and cultural facilities (such as the University Stadium, the Santa Cruz Sport Field, the Gil Vicente Academic Theatre (TAGV), the Science Museum and the Botanical Garden). A wide and efficient network of support and welfare services ensures the best conditions for UC students: accommodation, meals and health care are provided at affordable prices.
But the University of Coimbra is above all an intense, unique and unforgettable experience! Students, staff and all who interact with and participate in the wider university community share a strong and, we believe, incomparable sense of belonging.
The Academic Association of Coimbra (AAC) is the largest and the oldest student union in the country. European champion in university sports for several times and home to 16 cultural sections and 27 sports, AAC is the central pillar of the life of the University and its students, enabling student participation in a wide range of enriching extra-curricular activities.
The AAC sports include: handball, football, volleyball, basketball, rugby, swimming, tennis, squash, fishing, nautical sports, judo, karate, different types of gymnastics, among others.
Some of its cultural sections are: the University Radio (RUC), an ecology group, a Fado sector (the traditional song of Coimbra), a philately sector, a centre of film studies, a computer centre, an experimental Yoga centre, an astronomy, astrophysics and astronautics sector, a human rights sector, a gastronomy sector and a reading and writing sector, where literary contests, old book auctions, writers' meetings and other events take place.
Learn more about AAC cultural groups and sports by watching this series of short videos UC TV has prepared for you.
There are also several academic groups or autonomous bodies related to music, cinema, theatre, folk dancing, photography or choir singing.
The student union is a characteristic of the student life in Coimbra. Besides the AAC, students form and belong to groups linked to their study field that interact with similar groups at national and international level (the European Association of Engineering and Technology Students - BEST is one example of that). Many students are also part of the international Erasmus network ESN Coimbra that helps international students to find their way in the city.
Academic traditions and student festivities
Life at the University and in the city is also very much linked to the academic traditions and the student festivities.
The University of Coimbra keeps alive a set of traditions and symbolic practices, whose origins are lost in the University’s seven hundred years of history. These are illustrated by several official academic ceremonies (the ceremony for the swearing in of the Rector, the official opening of the academic year, the doctoral examinations, the academic processions of the teaching staff which take place in the Schools’ Courtyard, proceeding from the Joanine Library to the Great Hall, among others), in which the participants use traditional university uniforms (“traje académico”) and symbols such as the insignias featuring the different colours of each faculty.
Student culture has adapted the academic processions and the university uniforms and transferred them to the streets of the city. Although they are more recent and spontaneous, they are still important to the collective university imaginary. This is the case of the student processions of the “Festa das Latas” and “Queima das Fitas”.
The “Festa das Latas” or “Latada” which celebrates admission to the university and the start of the academic year is the first festivity of the newly arrived students. It takes place every year in October and gained its name from the use of metal objects to produce a noise (“lata” = tin). This festivity is preceded by several sport and cultural activities, such as music bands’ contests and university competitions, which aim to stimulate the party spirit of the new students and make them closer to the Students’ Union. During seven nights, several music shows take place at “Praça da Canção”, where university and non-university students from different Portuguese regions join together to watch the performances that enliven the party nights.
The “Queima das Fitas” festivity celebrates the end of the academic year and the graduation of students that finish their studies in that year. It takes place every year in May and starts with a special ritual in which students burn ribbons (= “fitas”) of eight colours, corresponding to the eight faculties. These ribbons represent the ribbons that once were used to tie books together. This festivity lasts one week and includes a parade, ceremonies, such as the “benção das pastas” at the Saint Michael Chapel (mass in which the traditional black leather folders of the graduate students are blessed), several shows at “Praça da Canção” down in the city Green Park, the Graduation Ball, among other events.
The Serenades are also considered part of the student tradition, together with the Coimbra Song, a unique musical genre mainly performed by students and former students of the University of Coimbra.
Welcome and friendly support
In the beginning of each semester the International Relations Unit of UC (DRI) welcomes the international students and organises several cultural and sports activities for these students in collaboration with the local students.
The Casa da Lusofonia - International Student Lounge, inaugurated in 2013, is a new place in Campus I, where local and international students and their unions can meet to work or enjoy some time together, see an exhibition or participate in a workshop. There students will also find the front-office staff of the International
Relations Unit of UC ready to help them with a variety of issues related
to incoming and outgoing student exchange.
In collaboration with the TV and Radio of UC, DRI steers two programmes: the BABEL TV and the BABEL Radio Show, both dedicated to international students. These students have an active participation in the programmes, where they share useful information, experiences and helpful tips with the international student audience.
UC has hosted and participated in student initiatives that aim to promote the intercultural dialogue within the scope of the Portuguese-speaking cultures and the international relations in general. The events of the "Conexão Lusófona" and the International Relations Forum of the AAC are examples of that.
When you finish your studies, you'll still be able to be part of UC, by joining the Alumni network "Rede UC". This network is constituted by a proud community of alumni, who have the opportunity to participate in the life of UC and have access to exclusive products and services.