Amongst the institutions of Higher Education in Portugal, the Institute of Arts and Humanities (ILCH) of the University of Minho (UMinho) is a pioneer in the introduction of courses of foreign languages and cultures for the academic community and the public in general (over 16 years of age).
Since 1987, ILCH has developed increasingly diverse programmes covering several languages and offering apprenticeships in various formats. In 1990 the Summer Course of Portuguese – Foreign Language took place, followed by the Annual Course Portuguese as Foreign Language in 1992, which has been establishing itself as an international reference over the years.
The strong and diverse educational offer of foreign languages – an important complement to any university degree – has strategic importance in the internationalisation policy of UMinho, particularly in the current context of the European Higher Education System (Bologna System). Faced with this challenge, the Statutes of ILCH, approved on 17 June 2009, define in Articles 35 and 36 a Language Centre, designated as BabeliUM, as an interaction with society project, aimed at developing training activities and promoting languages and cultures, as well as providing services in the field of languages (translation, interpretation, etc.). On 22 July 2009, the Council of ILCH approved the Regulation of BabeliUM.
BabeliUM was founded on 26 September 2009, on the European Day of Languages, which is annually celebrated with promotional activities for multilingualism, with a view to fostering language learning.