The beginnings of the history of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) were on 6 June 1973, when a group of people committed to extending higher education to the interior of the country met in Porto, under the auspices of the Northern Region Coordination Commission, where they reviewed a proposal that already mentioned the creation of the then Polytechnic Institute of Vila Real (IPVR). Less than a year later, on 2 March 1974, the first setting-up committee was inaugurated, and on 2 December 1975, the first year of the bachelor’s degree in Plant Production, Animal Production and Forest Production began, with classes being held at the headquarters of the Cruz Verde Volunteer Fire Brigade in Vila Real.
On 14 September 1979, the IPVR was raised to University Institute, adopting the name University Institute of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (IUTAD). Less than 10 years later, in view of the universal recognition of its intense activity in the fields of teaching and scientific and technological research, it was elevated to University status, by Decree-Law no. 60/86 of 22 March. The University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro was thus created.
Although it is still one of the youngest universities in the country, it has won national and international recognition for being an academic centre of innovation and quality, with a strategic vision for the future that also contemplates the development of the region of which it is a part. The concern about regional development has particularly focused on the transfer of knowledge that has an effect on the competitiveness and attractiveness of the area, such as the “Regia Douro” Science and Technology Park and the Vinha and Vinho (Vine and Wine) Centre for Excellence, but also on the creation of spaces for the pre-incubation of businesses and other initiatives, encouraging entrepreneurship and promoting connections to the business world as a potential source of insertion of students in the labour market.
The strategic plan for the four-year period 2017-2021, assumes its ambition to renew itself, leveraging all its resources and reaffirming its role as a reference institution and agent of territorial cohesion, but also emerging as an Eco-University, operating on an eco-campus with exemplary environmental management, which is today one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, where species from all corners of the world can be seen.
Students from various countries have a wide range of courses offered in four university-type schools: Agrarian and Veterinary Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Technology and Life and Environmental Sciences and one Polytechnic school (Superior School of Health), as well as a wide range of facilities.