Private university
Do private universities trump public ones? Source: Shutterstock

Are you in your final year of secondary or high school and mulling over your university options? For some, a major consideration includes whether the institution you’re applying for is public or private.

Can private university help with your future career, or is the opposite true? Does one deliver superior education over the other, or are outcomes pretty much the same?

Both private and public universities have different strengths and weaknesses, but what are some considerations that could help you make your decision?

Here are some suggestions:


Both private universities and public ones are funded differently, which affects how much they cost. 

Public universities are funded by the state government while private universities rely on tuition and funding from private individuals or organisations. Depending on your country of residence, public universities are sometimes called state universities. 

There’s no doubt that a major factor for many students when deciding where to study includes the cost of a degree. Because public universities receive funding from the government, they are typically cheaper to attend than private universities as the cost has been subsidised by the public.

Conversely, private universities receive no funding from the government, hence their heftier price tags. Regardless of the price tag attached to a public or private university, there are always scholarships for students, so take those into consideration.


Do university rankings matter to you? If yes, both public and private universities are well represented in world university rankings. 

For instance, if you’re eager to study abroad at a public university in the UK; Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London are each ranked first, third and 10th respectively in the recent THE World University Rankings 2020. Meanwhile, the remaining seven universities in the top 10 are private American universities. 

A similar finding is echoed in the QS World University Rankings 2020; five public universities (Oxford, Cambridge, ETH Zurich, University College London and Imperial College London) are represented in the top 10, with the other five spots dominated by private universities in the US. 

Class sizes

Public universities tend to be larger than private institutions and may also have larger class sizes, too. 

While every student has different wants and needs, those who don’t enjoy the semblance of anonymity that comes with being a student in a large university may want to consider enrolling in a private university that may be slightly smaller.

To boot, smaller class sizes translates to a more intimate learning environment, giving students the chance to get to know the members faculty better.

Which should you choose?

Is private university right for me? Source: Shutterstock

So, should you apply to a public or private university? 

There’s no right or wrong answer as every student has different needs, wants and socioeconomic backgrounds that can affect their university choices. This makes it essential not to choose a university based on where your friends or peers are going. 

We know it’s not an easy decision, so take some time to mull over the pros and cons of attending a public or private university before making a decision. 

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