The Escola Superior Náutica Infante D. Henrique maritime college (ENIDH) has been in Oeiras for 48 years, offering Bachelor’s Degrees, Master’s Degrees and vocational higher technical courses geared towards maritime education. Luís Filipe Baptista, president of the ENIDH, explains the institution’s strengths and ambitions for the future.
The ENIDH has existed for almost a century and stands out for being the only higher school in the country dedicated to maritime education. For many years it operated at Rua do Arsenal, next to Ribeira das Naus, in Lisbon, but in 1972 it moved to Oeiras, where its campus is located in Paço de Arcos. Luís Filipe Baptista, president of ENIDH, speaks about the different aspects of the school, which stands out for having one of the highest employability rates in the country. He also comments on ambitions for the future, which are expected to be enhanced following a memorandum of understanding under preparation with the Municipality of Oeiras.
What are the main features of ENIDH?
The Escola Superior Náutica Infante D. Henrique maritime college is the only Portuguese institution of maritime higher education in Portugal. We might say that it is the heiress of the former Escola de Sagres de Infante D. Henrique.
It has around 780 students, spread over several courses: Undergraduate Degrees, Master’s Degrees and vocational higher technical courses. We have traditional courses for training officers for the merchant navy: pilotage, marine mechanical engineering and marine electrotechnical engineering.
Then, we have management courses for transport and ports – transport and logistics management, and port management – Master’s Degrees in pilotage and marine mechanical engineering. More recently, four vocational higher technical courses were created: marine mechanical maintenance, marine electronics and automation, computer networks and systems and air conditioning and refrigeration. These are short, two-year college courses that have also proved highly popular: we have more than 150 students enrolled in these courses.
“The unemployment rate of our graduates is below 3%. We are at the top, in the first five or six national public higher education institutions with the highest level of employability.”
We have an accommodation residence for about 120 students, a huge campus with pavilion, swimming pool and an excellent area to enable students to develop their study and leisure activities.
It is a school that offers high levels of employability: the unemployment rate of our graduates is below 3%. We are at the top, in the first five or six national public higher education institutions with the highest level of employability.
This will, therefore, be one of the main differentiating and attractive features of the ENIDH…
We have unique courses at national level. They do not exist at any other higher education institution in Portugal. The pilotage course is unique, the courses in marine mechanical engineering and marine electrotechnical engineering too, and although there are many higher management courses, ours are aimed at transport and ports and are also unique at national level. We always have a huge number of applicants for these courses, which are completely full every year.
What kind of background do ENIDH students come from?
Traditionally, they are students who have relatives and friends with some tradition, knowledge or background in maritime activity – in particular, merchant navy officers or port workers – who, due to their influence, approach us. But we also have other students who did not know the college and who, through social networks, the Futurália fair, by searching our website, or through the other forms of advertising we invest in, got to know the College and became interested in our courses.
What are graduates from ENIDH prepared to do?
Our students on maritime courses leave with all the necessary certifications to pursue professional activities on ships belonging to the domestic and international merchant navy. We are assessed at national level by the Higher Education Assessment and Accreditation Agency (A3ES), which certifies the quality of our courses and academic degrees. Additionally, we are certified by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which checks whether our courses are in compliance with the guidelines of the international maritime organisation on the training of seafarers. To date, we have always received full approval from those bodies.
Therefore, students who finish the pilotage or engineering course and who want to have a maritime career, obtain their certificates from the Directorate-General of Maritime Resources (DGRM), and are qualified to embark on any ship belonging to the domestic or foreign merchant navy. Of course, due to international regulations, graduates must first do a one-year internship on board merchant ships. Only after the completion of this internship can they become officers in the merchant navy. But after that period of internship, they will have no difficulty in carving out a career in the merchant navy.
In addition to the teaching component, you also conduct research. What are you doing in that respect?
We have research activities, which we are trying to boost and increase. We have undertaken research on manoeuvring ships using a simulator, which is the only one in Portugal. Usually, these studies involve analysis of the manoeuvring of ships in ports, estuaries, rivers and channels. In other words, manoeuvres carried out in complex situations of operation in port terminals. In general, adverse conditions involving currents, tides, fog, bad weather are simulated. These are all situations that are simulated to check that ships are able to manoeuvre safely in this type of port infrastructure.
Additionally, we are engaged in other research activities. We recently participated with the University of Gdynia, in Poland, in a project to analyse electrical systems on ships.
We also have other projects related to the acquisition of marine simulators under the EEA Grants programme, promoted by Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein. At the moment, we are carrying out a two-million-euro project for the acquisition of marine simulators, which also involves organising cooperation activities with two Norwegian higher education institutions. We are developing work with these universities, so that our teachers and students can acquire better skills and conduct relevant research work in the maritime area.
“The Municipality of Oeiras offers great amenities and we have an excellent relationship with the City Council. Fortunately, we are deepening these relationships and we hope to soon sign a memorandum of understanding with the Council, which will represent the first step towards establishing specific cooperation agreements for specific activities.”
We also have a project, which has already been approved, related to the automation of ports and another EEA Grants project submitted recently, which offers Master’s Degree students in marine mechanical engineering the opportunity to carry out research activities at one of our Norwegian partner institutions.
What are the advantages for the ENIDH of being here in Oeiras?
The location is fantastic. We have a good quality transport network, the location by the sea here is magnificent. Then, we are not in the centre of Lisbon. Therefore, we are in a quiet area where people can study and work in excellent conditions.
The Municipality of Oeiras offers great amenities and we have an excellent relationship with the City Council. Fortunately, we are deepening these relationships and we hope to soon sign a memorandum of understanding with the Council, which will represent the first step towards establishing specific cooperation agreements for specific activities. This will be a general cooperation agreement, but it establishes the formats in which the future cooperation will be developed with the Municipality of Oeiras, which we want to be very in-depth. There is a great deal of interest from the Municipality in strengthening relations with the college, and we also share this objective. So I think the conditions are in place to finally have a very fruitful relationship.
What can be expected to result from this memorandum of understanding?
Fundamentally, there is the possibility that the Council will make a series of investments in the upgrading of some college facilities. Specifically, those that have the potential to host recreational activities, as is the case of the swimming pool and the pavilion, and obviously, at a later date, the college will be willing to make these facilities available to the surrounding community of the Municipality, under conditions to be established.
I think that this alone will be highly significant, as it serves two very important purposes: first, to upgrade facilities that are in need of improvement, since the college is already 48 years old; and, on the other hand, to bring the public into the college, who, despite living in areas relatively close to the institution, often do not know much about what we do here.
Has the ENIDH developed partnerships/synergies with other institutions in Oeiras?
The Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA) is an example of a partner institution with which we cooperate closely, not least because it has ships, and that is something that interests us. Therefore, we have been forging closer ties so that, when they finish their courses, our young people can do internships on IPMA vessels. We are also interested in collaborating with other higher education institutions based in the Municipality, namely the Universidade Atlântica and the Instituto Superior Técnico, based in Taguspark. We have also made contacts in the past with the Faculty of Human Motricity, but these need to be deepened. Therefore, there is a lot of potential for growth in this chapter.
Ten years from now, what would you like to be different here at the ENIDH?
The college has great growth potential because it has excellent facilities that be monetised more. It has all the conditions necessary to grow and increase its range of training in order to become a leading college in the maritime-port area. I would hope that, in a few years, the school will offer a wider range of training, namely, in the area of technologies applied to maritime economics, such as digitisation in shipping and computerisation applied to ports. These are areas that are currently undergoing major development: there is already a lot of talk about autonomous ships, the automation of ships, the development of new technologies applied to ports. All of these are areas that we can and must develop in order to take the lead in the development of the area of marine sciences and technologies.
It would also be interesting to attract research laboratories in the maritime area – ports and oceans – to create a hub for development, science and innovation and technology in the area of marine sciences on our campus. I think that would be fantastic, and it would boost and give our institution enormous visibility and prestige.