Coimbra Academic Association

The Associação Académica de Coimbra (AAC) is the students' union of the University of Coimbra (UC).[1] Founded in Coimbra on November 3, 1887, it is the oldest students' union in Portugal. It is also the biggest Portuguese students' union belonging to an independent institution, since it represents all the students of its university, who gain automatic membership into the AAC as students of the University of Coimbra (25,580 students as of 2021[2]).

In addition to several departments dedicated to culture and student life, ranging from theatre and musical groups to radio and cinematography,[3] the AAC has several sports' departments based in Coimbra. All teams and athletes of the AAC sports departments bear the same name and logo with black uniforms. This is one of the largest sports clubs of Portugal. The Associação Académica de Coimbra - O.A.F. is one of its better known organizations across Portugal due to a historical presence on the main Portuguese Football Championships and the popularity of football in the country. In rugby (Portuguese Rugby Union Championship), volleyball (Portuguese Volleyball Championship) and basketball (Portuguese Basketball League (LCB)) top flight competitions, through the Associação Académica de Coimbra (rugby union), the Associação Académica de Coimbra (volleyball) and the Associação Académica de Coimbra (basketball) departments, the AAC has also been represented at the highest level in the Portuguese major competitions across its history, as well as in several olympic sports ranging from athletics to martial arts disciplines. The chess team has been Portuguese champion on several occasions.


The Associação Académica de Coimbra was predated by several older student organisations, for example the Orfeon Académico de Coimbra (1880). This choir remains as an autonomous entity within the association. The Associação Académica was founded on the base of the student dramatic society, the Academia Dramática de Coimbra (1849-1887). The main mover was a law student António Luís Gomes.[4][5] In 1971, student protests against policies of the Estado Novo regime led to the Associação Académica being closed down, preceding a round of repression.[6][7][8][9]


AAC main entrance, with one of the AAC vans parked outside the building.

The AAC is governed by a "D.G. - Direcção Geral" (Directorate-General, the main board) made up entirely of students of the University of Coimbra; yearly elections take place to name the members of this board, any student can sign up to be a candidate. All the students of UC are entitled to vote for the AAC board. The current president of the main board is João Assunção.[10]

Since the late 1990s inside the AAC structure have been created several local student unions, representing courses, departments or sometimes faculties/colleges. Known as “Núcleos” (Portuguese for nucleus), these semi-independent unions have their own elected internal organs. All of them represent a major role in the AAC political, cultural, sportive and social life. In 2008 the AAC comprehended 25 of such unions, of which NEFLUC (Students union of the Faculty of Letters) is the biggest, representing nearly 3000 students.

Students in robes (for the first week of the class year), University of Coimbra

The main building of the Coimbra's Academic Association was inaugurated in 1961 and holds the offices of many sports clubs (secções desportivas) and arts sections (secções culturais). There are also rehearsal halls, a medical centre, academic services, extensive indoor gardens, a theatre-cinema with approximately 1,000 seats (Teatro Académico de Gil Vicente), and a café–restaurant where many students meet up and enjoy a wide selection of foods. AAC is the umbrella organization for a number of autonomous entities, the organismos autónomos.

Some of its better known former members include Salgado Zenha, Manuel Alegre, António de Almeida Santos, Miguel Torga, António Nobre, Vergílio Ferreira, Zeca Afonso, and Adriano Correia de Oliveira.

In addition, the AAC is the organizing and regulating body of the typical student Praxe (Praxis) of the University of Coimbra (UC), a rich tradition of rituals and festivities organized by UC's students, for the students.

Sports sectionsEdit

AAC main building, to the right, has the offices of dozens of sports departments and cultural organizations.

Many sports teams and athletes of the AAC sports clubs have been regularly involved with major national and international sports clubs and competitions. The AAC sports clubs hold many of their training sessions and games in the University Stadium and Sports Complex of the University of Coimbra located in the Santa Clara area of the city, in the southern bank of the Mondego river. There is also the historical Campo de Santa Cruz close by the Pólo I campus of the University of Coimbra, the oldest campus of this university, which as facilities that include 2 fields for the practice of several sports events including football, rugby and baseball.[11]

The AAC sports clubs include:[12]

Arts sectionsEdit

Among the Arts sections of the AAC, the Coimbra's University radio station is best known for its unique profile, youthful and refreshing attitude and avant-garde style. All the cultural sections of AAC are open to the entire society, promoting respected events, workshops and courses, both for students and the city community.

AAC cultural sections include:

Autonomous organisationsEdit

Besides the sports clubs and the arts sections of the Associação Académica de Coimbra, there are also independent organisations within the AAC, the Organismos Autónomos. Such as the above-mentioned Orfeon Académico de Coimbra (1880), which today represents the city of Coimbra and the university during its world tours.

The same applies to the main football team of the AAC, the Associação Académica de Coimbra – O.A.F., usually known as "Académica" or "Briosa". This team is amongst the top Portuguese football leagues and was created in 1887. It is a professional football club, established by the AAC and also part of the AAC as an independent club. The AAC football club was the first ever winner of the Portuguese Football Cup, in 1939.

Among the autonomous organisations of AAC there are also some well reputed theatre groups with a vast curriculum of acclaimed performances and playing a critical part in the city's cultural life. AAC autonomous organisations include:


The AAC is also responsible for the organization of the Queima das Fitas, one of the biggest student festivals in Europe and a great event in the city. The Festa das Latas, a smaller-scale event is the freshman's week of the University of Coimbra, also organised by the AAC. The AAC is the official body of the traditional Praxe, a sort of students' rite of passage, created by students of the University of Coimbra, which has a code of conduct, the Código da Praxe), a book published within the students' union.

The SymbolEdit

The tower of the University of Coimbra

Before the current logo, the AAC used to be represented by a black cape to reflect the university's traditional students' uniform. The AAC logo was created by Francisco Pimentel in 1927 by request of the AAC's Main board. The logo of the Associação Académica de Coimbra has a stylized drawing of the tower of the university and the acronym AAC.

The Tower of Coimbra's University is the city's «ex-libris» with its iconic bell. The tower's bell is known amongst the students as the cabra (she-goat). The tower is of Baroque style by the school of the German-born architect Ludovice who built it between 1728 and 1733. It is almost 34 metres high, and has a narrow and circular staircase which leads to a belvedere with remarkable views over the university, the historical part of the city centre and the river Mondego.

AAC uniquenessEdit

University of Coimbra's AAC is the biggest organization of its kind in Europe. It is also the oldest in Portugal. AAC has a long history and unmatched reputation in student sports, cultural activities, and political activism. With a long history of struggle against unpopular state policies, forming notable politicians and intellectuals along the way, it also harbours a very dynamic associative life.

Other similar students' unions in the country, such as (Associação Académica da Universidade de Lisboa) (University of Lisbon), Associação Académica da Universidade de Aveiro (University of Aveiro), Associação Académica da Universidade da Beira Interior (University of Beira Interior), Associação Académica da Universidade do Minho (Minho University), or Associação Académica da Universidade do Algarve (University of the Algarve), are smaller students' unions by number of associates because its universities have a smaller number of students or because the universities' student's aren't automatically members of the union, with a membership fee being required.

In other places in Portugal, there are many independent faculty, college, institute and school organizations of students from many mother-institutions (universities or polytechnical institutes) that are not representative of the whole mother-institution, being this fragmentation the reason for their smaller size, importance, and strength. There are also federations of students' unions comprising public and private, university and polytechnic independent and not related institutions from a city, like FAP - Federação Académica do Porto (from Porto) which is the largest students organization in the country, that do not represent a single university or polytechnic, but many independent federated students' unions from institutions of the most diverse kind.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Regis St Louis Portugal Lonely Planet 2009 - Page 328 "In the Associação Acadêmica de Coimbra (AAC); head here for student cards and youth travel discounts."
  2. ^ "Facts & Figures". Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  3. ^ Nuria Sanz, Sjur Bergan The Heritage of European Universities - Volume 548 2006 - Page 150 "The programme for the week's events, which are open to the public free of charge, includes contributions from the artistic groups of the Coimbra Academic Association, the faculties, museums and all the other university bodies. All the events ..."
  4. ^ Alberto Sousa Lamy A Academia de Coimbra, 1537-1990: história, praxe, boémia e estudo, partidas e piadas, organismos académicos 1990 Page 134 "A Associação Académica de Coimbra (1887). De 1885 a 1890, foi presidente da direcção do Teatro Académico o estudante de Direito António Luís Gomes, mais tarde membro do Governo Provisório da Primeira República e reitor da ... foram os grandes obreiros duma radical reforma dos estatutos da Academia Dramática de Coimbra (1849-1887)."
  5. ^ Portuguese Student Slang in Portugiesische Forschungen. 1960 Volume 1 - Page 135 "Die erste kurze Liste von Ausdrücken der gíria académica de Coimbra erschien bereits 1888 in dem von Cotta herausgegebenen Wochenblatt 'Ausland' (No. 21) in einem Aufsatz über die "
  6. ^ Guy Neave, Alberto Amaral Higher Education in Portugal 1974-2009 2011 Page 399 "The reasons behind the student protest were many, and political protest spread far beyond the university. In 1971, for example, the Coimbra Academic Association (Associação Académica de Coimbra) was closed down, which sparked off another round of repression."
  7. ^ Graham Bradshaw, Tom Bishop Special Section, European Shakespeares -2008 Page 28 "... the Associacao Academica, Coimbra's influential students' union) had staged another meta- Shakespeare, a version of Macbeth which the authorities found so "subversive" that the group would be suppressed until the revolution of 1974 ."
  8. ^ Marsha McCabe, Joseph D. Thomas, Tracy A. Furtado Portuguese Spinner: an American story 1998 Page 174 Theatre The Associacao Academica, or Academica Club, restored the three- story red brick building, formerly known as ... The Associacao Academica team, known for their black uniforms, pose in a city lot, probably near their headquarters at Ferry ..."
  9. ^ Women of Europe Commission of the European Communities - 1984 Page 28 "Tradition: The Associacao Academica de Coimbra (a century-old association of the students of the university town of Coimbra) has also had a first, "
  10. ^ "João Assunção eleito presidente da Associação Académica de Coimbra - JN". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  11. ^ (in Portuguese) Campo de Santa Cruz
  12. ^ Secções desportivas Archived 2008-10-24 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Josh Chetwynd Baseball in Europe: A Country by Country History 2008- Page 222 "That season also marked the start of the Associacao Académica de Coimbra's involvement with the sport. The students' union of the University of Coimbra features several sports and cultural sections as well as autonomous organizations.

External linksEdit