Founded by Chitra and Roman Stern in September 2020, United Lisbon International School offers K-12 international education with an innovative approach and world-class facilities.

While Chitra and Roman are better known for their track record as entrepreneurs in the real estate and hospitality sectors with their Martinhal hotels, the international school that they have successfully started in the middle of a global pandemic and grown since grabs the most attention amongst people.

Less than four years on, they are excited with the growth and development of the international school in the Lisbon Oriente area near Parque das Nações and right at the heart of the emerging “technology district” in Lisbon.

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Apart from being close to the Parque das Nações where several technology companies such as Microsoft, Vodafone, Novabase, and Feedzai have their headquarters, ULIS is located close to the Beato Creative Hub, where Lisbon City Hall’s exciting initiative, the Lisbon Unicorn Factory, is located, founded by Mayor Carlos Moedas to boost the startup scene in Lisbon.

The Beato Creative Hub is also where several other companies are settling down, such as Factory, Web Summit, Claranet, and Microsoft’s latest AI Innovation Factory.

Important developments

“These are important developments for us at ULIS, as one of the key pillars in our vision for the school is Technology,” says Chitra Stern. The other 4 pillars upon which ULIS was developed are: Global Citizenship, Entrepreneurship, the Arts, and Sports – all to prepare its students for tomorrow’s world. “Being surrounded by tech companies gives us an advantage into the future to be better connected to them for internships and work projects,” she says.

ULIS has been expanding well since its inception in 2020. The student body now comprises well over 600 and the number of nationalities is around 52. A strong 20 percent is Portuguese, followed by roughly 10 percent each of American, Russian, Chinese, and Ukrainian, then smaller percentages of Brazilian, Angolan, French, Spanish, and so on for the rest of the student body. “This is exactly what we set out to achieve, ULIS is a truly international school!” says Chitra Stern. “This factor, along with a strong Model United Nations club in the school, contributes to our second pillar for the vision of the school – Global Citizenship,” she says. “We named the school “United” as it is only through being united that global problems can be solved”.

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As the first cohort of IB graduates prepare for their IBDP exams this year, there is an excitement at ULIS that heralds a new era in its history. “With nearly 50 children graduating from our first IB class in Grade 12, we are proud of our pioneering IB candidates. The teachers are working very hard to give them maximum support for this milestone year”.

Dukes Education Group

ULIS was the first international school to partner with the Dukes Education Group outside of the United Kingdom. That first step into Europe with ULIS was the catalyst for further growth in Europe soon after – Dukes has since acquired other schools in Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, Spain, and in Central Europe. They have further plans to build their group in other countries in Europe.

“It is simply wonderful to see the school we founded blossoming under the Dukes umbrella,” says Chitra Stern, who is still a shareholder and on the board of ULIS. “There is still much to be achieved within the vision under which the school was created. This is only possible being part of a strong international group such as Dukes,” she said.

“It has been a real privilege to start our international development at ULIS,” says Aatif Hassan, Founder and Chairman of Dukes Education Group. “It was an easy decision to partner with the Sterns and ULIS. Our values have been aligned since day one and the vision for ULIS is compelling. ULIS is already a great school and this next stage of development will make it truly world-class”.

ULIS is now expanding its successful operations into further buildings which the Sterns acquired in 2018 – in renovation and development are a further 7,300 sqm of classrooms, lounges, science laboratories, maker space, sports facilities, and a brand new 250-seater auditorium, all to be opened later this year. A further 1,000 sqm of outdoor sports areas will be added to the already existing 6,500 sqm of outdoor play and sports areas. These new facilities will help double the areas existing in the current school, making this one of the largest urban international schools in the Lisbon area.

“Once these new areas are complete, it will be hard to compete with our facilities in the city of Lisbon. However, the most important thing in education is the teaching community and we are also proud to say that we have grown the core teaching team over the last 2 years into a serious body of experts and educators, totalling a teaching body of 84, headed by an experienced and diverse Senior Leadership Team,” concluded Chitra Stern with pride.

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