Public or Private University? Must-Know Differences

Written by Animesh Prasad

The journey on which Animesh embarked to become an engineer ended up with him turning into a content writer. As he progressed to his final year, he realized engineering isn't really his forte and pursued his love for writing. He has a deep interest in finance and loves traveling.

June 25, 2021

Choosing the right college for your higher education is undoubtedly a perplexing decision. While this experience will be one of the most wonderful ones, it isn’t easy to finalize the university. Scholastics, fields of study and campus size are just a few of numerous elements that you have to consider when choosing a university. This blog has been specifically curated to help you arrive at the perfect university. The key to this decision-making lies in understanding whether you want to study in – Public or Private University?

In this blog, we will specifically focus on the differences between public and private universities. First, we will understand them individually and then go on to have a look at the comparison. So let’s get started. 

Public University | Public or Private University

A public university, also commonly called a state university, is funded by the public through the government of the state. In other words, these universities are state-financed. The funds provided by the state are aimed at developing the infrastructure of the university, providing better educational opportunities and increasing the exposure of the students enrolled.

Following is the list of some of the best public universities in the world that offer top-notch education:

  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Technical University of Munich
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Washington
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Oxford
  • Aalto University
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Florida

Private University | Public or Private University

A private university is not funded or operated by the government. These universities are educational institutions whose financing originates from educational costs obtained from the students, ventures from donors (endowments) and private helpers. The majority of renowned institutions of the world are private colleges, even the prestigious Ivy League schools. 

Below is the list of the most popular private universities across the globe:

  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • Emory University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Chicago
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Columbia University
  • Duke University
  • Cornell University

A point worth mentioning here is that according to the QS World University Rankings, the first five top institutions in the world are private universities. 

Also Read: 5 World-Class Universities In Canada For MBA or STEM Courses

Public Vs. Private University Abroad: Differences

Now let’s analyse the key differences and see which one, Public or Private University, is the perfect fit for you. 

Sources of Funding

The defining difference between these two universities lies in the way they are funded. Public universities are funded mainly by state governments, while private colleges are supported primarily by their own endowment funds and students’ tuition fees.  

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Public Vs. Private University Abroad Cost of Attendance

Since the public universities are heavily subsidized by the government, there is a potential influx of money due to which the tuition costs are generally minimal. Private colleges, on the other hand, are generally more expensive because they rely more heavily on student’s tuition payments to cover their operating expenses. Public universities are almost always less costly to attend than private schools.

Note: An important point to remember here is that even though the cost of studying at a private university is a little exorbitant, it offers some generous scholarships and other financial aid to students which might be equivalent to spending at a state university.

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Degree Programme Offerings | Public or Private University

Many private colleges offer only a narrow range of academic majors. Public universities, meanwhile, usually offer a much wider array of classes and degree programmes. 

Suggested Read: Top 10 Most Affordable Public and Private HBCUs In The US

Quality of Education

Many people think private colleges or universities have a better academic reputation than public ones. That’s isn’t completely true. The fact is the quality of education varies for different universities and is based on several factors.

Although it is true that academic programmes are slightly extensive at private universities that emphasise learning out of the curriculum. At the same time, there are public universities known for their well-etched academic programmes as well.

Recommended Reading: 25 Best Undergraduate Business Schools In The World

Size | Public or Private University

Public universities tend to be generally bigger than private colleges.  The student body population, student-to-teacher ratio, campus size, and class sizes are all bigger at public universities. The campus environment at public schools is less intimate, with professors less likely to know all of their students’ names. One example of a large public university is Penn State University, which is home to nearly 40,000 undergraduates. However, public university campuses are more likely than private colleges to be well-equipped to meet students’ needs and may feature restaurants, movie theatres, or other entertainment options, in addition to transportation. So, you will have a good time over here. 

Student Community Diversity

Public universities are demographically diverse while private universities are more geographically diverse; the primary reason being public universities tend to attract more in-state residents while private ones welcome people from all over the world, maintaining a homogeneous population in their campuses. 

Don’t forget to read: Most Commonly Asked Questions in a University Interview

Public Vs. Private University: Which Is Better?

Before we discuss this, you must know that ‘Public vs. Private University Abroad Eligibility’ is subject to various factors like country, ranking and other factors. So, you will have to shortlist your dream colleges and then individually study their requirements. 

Coming back to the question ‘Public or Private University: Which Is Better?’, we are not saying that one is better than the other. Even though public universities have an upper hand, there are some private universities that are at par with a few public ones.

The brand of your university alone will not help you land a good job and an excellent future. You will have to demonstrate your academic potential to reach those levels. Good luck!

Thank you for reading this blog on ‘Public or Private University?’. If you enjoyed reading this blog and would like to continue reading more about universities then do check out our following blogs.

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