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Outline: Do you remember one of our previous articles from an Asian student telling his experience of studying at Católica Business School Business School and also a similar one from a European student? In the following article you can find another European student’s controversial opinion, this time about Nova SBE!


Inspired by the (terrible) review of Católica Lisbon on Uduni, I decided to turn the tables for a bit and write about my university, Nova SBE. I know, not very original and if you knew me you’d know I am not a review-person, but it seems to me that it’s very difficult to give opinions on universities nowadays, so please bare with me. Bare with me! Okay, thank you. (To be honest, I came to this idea of writing a review on Nova SBE because I was amazed by the publicity that the other review had so I thought – what a perfect way to get Nova’s attention onto the recurring issues our folks are facing here! As a foreign student currently studying @Nova, I will preserve my anonymity for the sake of graduating.)

nova sabe

You know what they say, bad is stronger than good, therefore I will use this opportunity to be very critical (!) towards the school as I believe it has, unfortunately, a lot of wasted potential. This review will be in the form of an open letter to the university, an open letter to change for the better, as we, students, ask for it, demand for it, require it. You seem to have forgotten that we are your clients and that you are there to provide access to knowledge, not the other way around!

So here is my Devil’s 3 list or Nova’s-core-issues-nobody-cares-about:

Ô, Rankings!

28th Business school in Europe, 31st in International Management, top 20 in finance, Triple Crown etc. Beautiful, isn’t it? Proud, you ask from us to fill in the surveys, “help our school”, because indeed we will benefit from it in the future. On several occasions, I have heard “be kind while reviewing” and it shocked me! You seem to have forgotten that a good school will result in a higher ranking and not the other way around! No, a higher ranking will not make out of you a better school. It may look like a better school, but it will not be. And a school which cares only about its rankings… loses focus on the most important thing – the students.

The invisible force of graders

When I first arrived, I thought it was a joke. Wait what, students who previously took that course with a satisfactory grade can grade you?! So all that story about the connection between the professor and his/her students, where he monitors their progress and gives them feedback? No? Sure, professors don’t have time to grade our assignments. Or maybe they don’t want to? Or why would they want to when you made it so easy not to? (It’s funny how the professors give extreme workloads knowing they don’t have to spend time reviewing it.) It happened to me on various occasions that the grader was unable to articulate himself/herself in English for instance. Or that he/she was unable to give me an explanation for the number of points I got. It even happened to me that I had my classmates as graders (usually the ones that hated me for some reason)! Conflict of interest, huh? The system is so well put in place that all one should care about while studying at Nova is not to piss the graders off and learn how to go do things the way they like it. Pretty disappointing, don’t you think?

Let’s recruit the professors on LinkedIn!

When I see those pretty biographies of professors on Nova’s website, I wonder how come, with all those smart, experienced people, the knowledge here is so scarce. Masters degrees from Harvard, MIT, visiting scholars, published this or that… One gets all excited, let me tell you, and then goes to class only to cry afterwards. With all due respect to some great professors (José Pinheiro I salute you), others seems to have been the product of a recruitment process done wrong. Since when is it irrelevant for a professor to have pedagogical skills? Since when is it okay to sit for three hours and listen a person speak, with no possible interaction at all? Since when is it okay to have a person talk about a subject and provide no sources? You will say, it is difficult to hire the right professors. You will say, the good ones are taken. But we will say, we don’t care! It is not okay to spend thousands of euros to listen to a person who is unable to transmit the knowledge you. It will never be okay.

You will notice that I didn’t mention the workload, I didn’t mention the study space nor the internet. I didn’t even talk about the gap between the Portuguese community and the international community @Nova. Of course, there is field for improvement in all these areas, but that’s not what is really wrong.

You are shifting your focus from the real issues, Nova. And to illustrate that, let’s look at the surf camp you are building in Carcavelos.


nova sabe

Are you shifting your business?

I was not informed.


Yours truly,

Student @Nova


The author of this article asked to remain anonymous.

Would you like to share your testimonial too? If yes, please send it to [email protected], either in Portuguese or English!

DISCLAIMER: The articles featured on our platform were prepared or accomplished by students in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of UDUNI. UDUNI does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in these articles. It is part of our mission to empower students, by providing them access to real testimonials and opinions, and we believe that is the reason why some of our articles may not please everyone.
Regarding not only this article but also the “Terrible Experience At Lisbon’s Most Elite University” testimonial, the Uduni team hereby expresses that this platform does not aim to create a bad impression on CLSBE or Nova SBE – as a matter of fact, we currently have on our team 5 amazing people from CLSBE and 4 from Nova SBE. 
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  1. I agree a lot with the open letter to education. The money is not worth it at all. You basically pay for the reputation. The workload is quite high, but the knowledge you get out of it is rather low (especially the mandatories in Management are to a large extent quite useless). Moreover the English skills of many professors are ridiculously low. I don’t know if other universities are different in Portugal, I’m from Germany. In retrospect I would not come here again, the rankings just do not reflect the actual situation and are heavily biased as the admission office exploits the methodolgy, e.g. by admitting a lot of foreigner.

  2. Your post is totally true! I am currently studying at Nova- and NOTHING changed! Plus, the service is terrible. The master office is a joke- no one really knows how to help, it seems like they don’t have an idea about their job. The same with the career service. If it is not about an issue which is concerning them- they don’t care about your requests.
    The sad thing is that the students are spending thousands of euros, some of them even taking a loan. I studied at several universities before I came to Nova. My advice to all students who consider to choose Nova:

  3. The first comment was written buy some Nova worker (whether at the masters office or professor). This text is actually very kind to Nova. Nova gives you nothing, it takes away thousands of dollar to you and they don’t even provide teachers!! Incredible isn’t it? You’re paying 8 or 9k to learn from a guy that took the course last semester?

    This university shouldn’t be called so: no knowledge, no discussion, no nothing, just pretending. Do your wallet a favor, do NOT PUT YOUR FEET IN THERE! It’s a living hell. Do you want to know how it is to be a student there? Do you remember Azkaban and dementors from Harry Potter? The school is Azkaban, professors are the dementors. It’s the best analogy I can come up with.

  4. Hi, I’m currently a french student from Nova SBE as well, and even though I find the review legit, in a sense that we always need to have some feedback in order to improve, I have to completely disagree on the provided opinion. The focus of the text is mainly on the Teaching assistants and professors evaluation and their profiles. In my home country we had a different process, yet I find this one very suitable, since it shows a desire to improve. Sure there are some issues, no university is perfect I would say, but I’ve seen Nova progressing and changing a lot, given the reviews that we provided. As for the professors, I must have been lucky with the courses I have taken, since they are actually available to answer our questions, and office hours have been pretty useful in my opinion. There is one or two professors that fit your description, but the rest are actually good, so I don’t think we can make a generality out of it. The only complain that I have to make is the intense workload and the extreme mathematical focus of the courses, in that I could agree, yet it was not mentioned.

    As for the gap between Foreign students and Portuguese, there might be a gap, but I wouldn’t consider it at all dramatic, quite the opposite. The truth is that many students that I meet in the corridors are foreign; as for the Portuguese students (and even portuguese from Lisbon in general), they’ve always proven to be very nice to us, I have indeed many portuguese friends with whom I play football on weekend and have lunch at Nova, and also I try to participate in various events of the Nova Student’s Union where it’s very easy to meet other portuguese and foreign students. I think in that sense it all depends on our predisposition and willingness to integrate ourselves! Again, with less workload it would be easier to attend more events, still it’s easy to meet Portuguese people in my honest opinion.

    And let’s be honest, this seems like an opinion to respond to the other opinion more than anything; it can be constructive, yet when you evoke the argument of the new campus as a Surf camp, I think the text loses credibility. Unfortunately I won’t be at Nova anymore to see the campus, but I would have loved to attend classes there. And you mentioned lack of space, true I strongly agree, but that is perhaps the reason they are moving to the other campus.

    I don’t share then the same view, I actually grew attached to the university, given its location (as in Lisbon) but also for the great experience I’ve been having until now.

    I hope to have contributed with my view on the university and to the open letter. There are things that need to be fixed, like the very heavy workload, the internet connection etc… but those are small details

  5. I am writing this a an ex-undergrad, current master and Teaching Assistant (kind of a grader but to the undergrad level, and we also give practical classes):

    1st point – About the survey, Yes I also found it a bit awkward at first that they warn you about to what is going to be used. But, in no way they control what you say. I think the main idea was not stop students from writing silly ideias. What I can say is that from the surveys I received (about the course I teach) I understand the need to give guidance to students, it probably isn’t your case, but there are always students that write the right things in the wrong places.

    2nd – Graders are not professors, they should (and for what I see among the ones I know) be guided by the professor. This being said, most of them do a work that does not bring much recognition and only get noticed when they do something wrong. If you feel that a grader is treating you unfairly I would advise you to talk to him/her and to the professor.

    3rd – Yes, not all professors are of “extra good quality” and some don’t seem to be quite good at teaching (they might compensate with other things). What I would like you to do is:
    a) Fill (if you haven’t yet) the course evaluation honestly and with constructive comments, it’s completely anonymous and most professors do care about them, I do and have been improving ever since I received mine
    b) Go to the students office (in your case the Masters Office) and complaint about what you said here (professors, workload, graders, wifi, …), don’t do it with one of the ladies that works at the entrance, ask to talk directly with Silvia, she will listen to you and do the best she can to improve the situation
    c) Because line b) is not enough for most of the point you touched, please consider talking to your program coordinator (there is one for each masters), please don’t be shy about it, they are there for this. I have talked to mine and most point I referred to him were corrected or there is some strategy to deal with them

    Again, I am a TA at Nova, I love my faculty a lot, and like you I also see loads of things that can be improved. Just to inform, I have also studied in other 2 faculties, so I know how things work outside of Nova.

    I would like to end by say that I also was a student of professor Pinheiro (during to semesters actually). I loved the way he teaches, and also found in him quite a nice human being. This being said, a lot of students do not like the way he teaches. Most of what you said where bad things in Nona, some students might like. So it all ends up being a personal preference.

    I hope your experience at Nova improves.

  6. I went to Nova many years ago, before it was called SBE, it was just Faculdade de Economia. actually I was at my second BA year when we moved to the building in the image. It had already a fame, and it was marketed as the best in the country. To my enormous disppointment I felt it was pretty bad, without any guidance from teachers and with a very strict view on the field: neo-liberal, friedman based almost exclusively. No discussion, no research, no writing essays and above all no arguements. The all illuminated professors teach, the very limted students listen and be aware, failling is the rule… Once I got into a discussion with a younger teacher about what rationality as an economic assumption ment, and I was in trouble, after all who was I to discuss economic concepts?
    I eventually finished my graduation and walked away from economy, finding my path somewhere else. I always thought the problem was mine, as everybody around me kept on repeating we had had the priviledge to attend the best school. Now I understand that once all you get is a line in your CV, you’d better move with the crowd, and promote the university as a way of promoting yourself. I think this is why it prepetuates.
    Reading your comment brought back this feelling that had been hidden for years. Very sad it is still the same.

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