Public Universities vs Private Universities: Which is Better?

Public Universities vs Private Universities: Which is Better?- Leverage Edu
Public Universities vs Private Universities: Which is Better?- Leverage Edu

While applying to universities, you may end up confused thinking about public universities vs private universities. But you should be aware that both these types have different sets of characteristics, which become even more crucial if you’re an overseas student.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the major points that differentiate private and public universities, which you should keep in mind while making a decision.

  1. Funding

The most fundamental difference between these universities is the way they are funded. This affects students because funding is linked to tuition fees.

Most public universities are state-funded and date back to early 19th and 20th century. State universities cover major operational costs, plus oversee their management through appointed board and trustees. Due to the inflow of government funds, the tuition is less expensive at a public university. The fee is subsidized, so the funds raised through tuition fees aren’t the source of covering college expenses, such as remuneration to the staff and faculty.

On the other hand, private universities aren’t state funded. Tuition fee and private donations are its main source of finances. Hence, tuition is much higher here. Most students end up taking loans to cover tuition and also pursue part-time jobs.

  1. Size and number of courses offered

Private universities are generally smaller than public universities. Mostly, there are just a few thousand students studying at a time in a private university. They offer small choices of majors but have a particular academic focus. Some private colleges focus just on liberal arts, while others specialize in engineering or IT courses.

Public universities are much larger in terms of students enrolled and majors offered. For example, the  University of Central Florida is the largest public university in the USA, with student size of more than 63,000 students. Within one public university only, students can choose majors between liberal arts, fine arts, architecture, IT, or entrepreneurship etc.

  1. Class size

Class size is another key disparity. Private colleges keep classes small, with easy access to professors. You’ll find yourself knowing everyone by name in your class. At public universities, however, 200 students may be enrolled in some classes, especially introductory level. There are fewer discussions in classrooms.

  1. Demographic variation

These two types of universities also have huge demographic variation. In-state students are admitted in much greater numbers than out-state students. Moreover, the tuition fee for in-state students is much less as compared to out-state students.  This leads to less geographical diversity and less international exposure.

At the same time, private universities which have limited seats portray more nationalities, communities and ideologies because state residency isn’t a deciding factor for them. They have limited seats and want to portray more diversity.


Here are some names that will give you an approach into the distinction even more. Some of the most reputed public universities in the world are:

In the USA-
  • Berkeley
  • University of Michigan
  • University of California
  • The College of William and Mary
  • The University of Illinois, University of Florida


In Europe-
  • King’s College London
  • University College London
  • University of Oxford
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • University of Cambridge


In Asia-
  • Seoul National University
  • Delhi University
  • Indian Institute of Technology
  • Peking University
  • University of Tokyo


As for private colleges, the list is equally ample.

In the USA-
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Cornell University
  • Princeton University
  • Yale University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Carleton College, Columbia University


In Europe-
  • Arden University
  • University of Buckingham
  • EU Business School in Europe


In Asia-
  • Hanyang University
  • Osaka University of Commerce
  • Korea University
  • Pohang University of Science and Technology


The repute of a public and private university can differ from nation to nation. But as you can see from the list above, most American wouldn’t have any such peculiarity. Both can rank anywhere on their international or national rankings.

Now, as an overseas student, it is no secret that you will be spending a lot more than others. Apart from tuition, you will also be paying for food, accommodation, and transport in a foreign currency.  So, do the proper math and see how much you can shell out with the fee structures at both public and private universities. You can always apply for scholarships to reduce your expenses. Yet, it is advisable to concentrate on the course first and how it complements your long-term goals.

You should identify your goals and consider costs, culture, class size, and environment before choosing between the two for your college experience. To find out more about public universities vs private universities and what colleges might be right for you, contact a leverage expert to strategically plan your future!

– Team Leverage

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