Interview conducted by Gonçalo Santos and published in the last edition of EUROMAR newsletter:
The Nautical College Infante D. Henrique, located in Paço de Arcos on the panoramic route that links Lisbon and Cascais, is a reference for maritime education in Portugal and one now seeking a wider relevance on the European stage.
Successor to the renowned 'Class of the Cosmograph-Mor' established in 1559 by Pedro Nunes, the school has complemented the growth of MAR by developing exchange projects with other schools and with international shipowners. One such project is the recently announced protocol with German owner Hamburg Süd. Also, the school will open its doors to international students each year and the first 35 Panamanian students will attend in academic year 2016/2017.
A major advantage, compared to European competitors, is that the College provides practical training for those seeking jobs at sea, as Professor Luís Filipe Baptista, the College's president, explains.
EUROMAR: The Nautical College Infante D. Henrique is considered the oldest in the world. How and why was it founded?
Luís Filipe Baptista: Although there are references to the School of Sagres founded by Infante D. Henrique, we can state categorically that it was the 'Class of the Cosmograph-Mor' created under the auspices of Pedro Nunes in 1559 that was the predecessor to the current Nautical College. However, it was not until 1779 that regular nautical education through a specifically designed institution was established through the creation of the Royal Navy Academy.
The Naval School was established in 1845 to train officers for the war and merchant ships. Nautical education was common to the two navies in the years to 1887, after which the Naval School and the Pilot School were created under the auspices of the Ministry of the Navy. Courses were convened at the Auxiliary School of Navy in buildings in Arsenal Street which still belong to the Navy.
Decree No. 10 084 of August 24 1924 reorganised teaching in the Naval School and created the Nautical School for training non-military students. Some three decades later, in 1956, preparatory work started for the construction of the new Nautical College and in 1972 the Nautical College Infante D. Henrique was inaugurated in its current facilities in Paço de Arcos. The College is the only national public higher education institution designed to train merchant marine officers and others proffessionals for the maritime and port sectors.
EUROMAR: The College has always evolved and adapted to changing times and needs. Today, the global shipping industry is making new demands. How is the school adapting to these?
Luís Filipe Baptista: The Nautical College Infante D. Henrique has addressed the new reality of the shipping industry posed by the drastic reduction of the national merchant marine under conventional registration and the significant increase in the size of the second national registry, the Madeira Register. We have developed contacts with international shipowners to find placement for our maritime course graduates; we have followed the Erasmus exchange programme with foreign nautical schools and intensified the exchange of experiences with foreign teachers and researchers in the field of maritime education. Our aim is to prepare our students in the best way possible for the demanding and challenging international marketplace.
EUROMAR: Do you believe that supporting international registration and enforcing more competitive conditions for conventional registration, in order to attract international shipowners to Portugal, can enhance employment prospects for your students?
Luís Filipe Baptista: As with other countries producing merchant marine officers, such as Poland, Croatia, Romania and Ukraine, the College will be able to produce more maritime graduates only if it can secure employment for them in the maritime industry, particularly in the European Union where there is a significant shortage of qualified marine officers. In this context, I regard as particularly important the increase in the number of ships in the international ship register.
EUROMAR: The College has developed protocols with shipowners and international agents with the pourpose of placing Portuguese cadets. Is this to continue?
Luís Filipe Baptista: Yes, this will continue along the lines followed in recent years. These protocols have enabled the placement of several graduates with good results by international shipowners.
EUROMAR: What are the advantages of the students trained in ENIDH in the international markets?
Luís Filipe Baptista: The feedback we have obtained from international shipowners has been and is very positive. Our cadets have integrated well onboard ship, showing good technical preparation, team spirit and ease in adapting to new cultures. I am convinced that these experiences will result in an increase in the placement of our cadets in the maritime industry.
EUROMAR: Thank you, Professor.