Public vs Private Universities: Which one to Choose?

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Public vs Private Universities

If you are beginning your college life soon, all the best and it will indeed be a wonderful experience. Selecting the right college is a perplexing decision for all. Scholastics, fields of study and campus size are just a few of the numerous elements a student has to consider when searching for a university. In addition, the university has to offer the specialization of one’s choice and help meet their scholarly and vocational goals. The debate of public vs private universities is quite prevalent and is gaining more importance with new pedagogical institutions coming up. This blog is an attempt to consolidate all the differences between public vs private universities to make your understanding clear of the two distinct types of educational institutions.

Public University

public vs private universities

The expression “public” indicates that these universities are owned by the state. A significant aspect of public universities is that it is state-financed. The fund provided by the state is aimed at developing the infrastructure of the university, providing better educational opportunities and increasing the exposure of the students enrolled. Listed below are some of the best public universities in the world that offer top-class education at par with the requirements of the modern professional world.

Private University

A private university is an educational institution whose financing originates from educational costs obtained from the students, ventures from donators, and private helpers. Many renowned institutions of the world are private colleges including the prestigious Ivy League schools. Listed below are some of the most popular private universities in the world that students throughout the globe opt for. 

Also Read: Public vs Private Colleges

Difference Between Public and Private University

public vs private universities

Talking about Public vs Private Universities, there are many factors that can be used to distinguish between the two. Tabulated below are the major differences between public vs private universities:

Point of DistinctionPublic UniversityPrivate University
Funded byPublic Universities are funded
by the state government and
the subsidies it offers.
Private Universities are funded
by private ventures, investors
and tuition fees.
Tuition FeesDue to government funding,
they have a low tuition fee.
Moreover, every state has
a public university with a
reasonable educational cost.
Private universities have a higher
tuition fee which is used to fund
the various requirements
of the college.
Scholarships OfferedFinancial aid is offered but it is usually less than private universities.Private universities offer more
lucrative scholarship options than public universities in order to help students cover the high tuition fees.
AccreditationPublic universities are accredited
by the state
or national government.
Private universities have to get
accreditated nationally.
AdmissionPublic universities generally
offer more seats with less
strict selection criteria. 
Private universities only enrol
a limited number of students
whom they admit based on
stringent criteria and thorough evaluation.
Teachers’ SelectionProfessors are evaluated
based on their teaching skills.
Professors are evaluated on their
research activity before selection.
Majors AvailableA larger number of majors
are available to students to
choose from.
A smaller number of majors are available to opt from.

Let’s understand the key differences between public vs private universities in detail:

Funding Sources

The prominent difference between public vs private universities is that public universities are usually provided with the funding by the state government while private universities get their source of funding from private ventures, investors and tuition fees.

Do You Know? When it comes to the public vs private universities in Canada, most public universities are government-subsidized whereas private colleges and universities in Canada take care of operating costs with the help of their tuition fees, endowments and private donations.

Tuition Fees & Costs

Public vs private universities also vary in terms of the tuition fees and costs of their academic programs. While public universities get funding from the state, they offer more affordable courses at a low tuition fee and overall costs of studying a program is also lesser than a private university. On the other hand, a private university generally has relatively higher tuition fees for its programs and thus can be expensive for a student.

Scholarships Offered

This point of difference is related to the previous point mentioning the difference between the tution fees of a private and public university. As public universities offer affordable courses and programs, therefore, scholarships provided by these universities is less as compared to the private universities. On the other hand, private universities help students cover the higher tuition fees through lucrative scholarships and financial aid options and thus offer more scholarships and schemes than public universities.


Public universities are usually accredited under the state or national government and can be affiliated at the regional level as well. Private universities need to get accreditation from the national government, i.e. from the university commission or department under the government at the national level since the absence of this accreditation can nullify their authority to impart degrees and education. Thus, while choosing between public vs private universities, it is essential to check if your chosen one has proper accreditation from a national authority or not.

Do You Know: The key difference between private and public universities in the UK is that public universities are funded by the government funding councils in the UK for teaching and research while private universities get their funding solely from tuition fees.

Majors Available

Another key point of difference between public vs private universities is that public universities offer a diverse and massive range of majors for its programs and courses while private universities might be specialised institutes or smaller institutions offering specialised study or a limited range of majors.


The admission criteria is also a defining difference between public vs private universities. Public universities have a large number of seats available and have a relatively simpler selection and eligibility criteria. However, private universities are found to be more limited in terms of seats as well as strict in terms of eligibility requirements and selection process.

Do You Know? The key difference between a private university vs government university is that government universities are known to charge a lower tuition fee than private ones. You can also avail a chance of fee reduction at a government university as they offer many scholarships as well as quota-based reservations and perks like SC, ST, OBC, Sports quota, etc.

Source: YouTube – Best College Aid

Similarities Between Public and Private Universities

Now that you are aware of the major differences between public vs private universities, let’s explore their similarities as well. Public and Private Universities are more similar than you think. Touching on the generic side, the key similarities between public and private universities is they both offer a wide array of courses across fields, share a similar admission process (be it entrance exam-centric or with merit list) and both need to be affiliated with a recognised education board. There are many private universities you can find which are quite similar to public universities in terms of their expansion into colleges and institutes along with following similar eligibility criteria and scholarships.

Did you know? Public universities in Germany do not charge students tuition fees! International Students in Germany can study for free when it comes to certain programmes or if they are well-versed with the native language!

Private vs Public College/University: Pros and Cons

Many students ask about the benefits of public universities over private universities. So, when you google the differences between public vs private universities, the most common criteria of distinction is that of funding. Public colleges and universities get their funding from the government, be it state or central, while private universities have tuition fees, business houses, private investors, founders, etc. as the key source of funding. If you are looking for the pros and cons of private vs public college or university, there is no straight answer. As a student, you need to consider some major parameters to weigh down their pros and cons such as:

  • First list down your preferred private or public college/university and their programs that you are interested in.
  • Then, assess each university as per their course curriculum, industry visits, training opportunities, infrastructure, industry exposure and faculty, amongst others.
  • Many public universities offer lucrative scholarships while private universities have limited financial aid options.
  • Get in touch with the alumni of your chosen public vs private university/college and ask for their insights on the pros and cons of attending the university or college of your preference.

Do You Know? When it comes to Public vs Private College Statistics, college degrees are becoming a preferable option after secondary education in the US. After the great recession of 2008, the US has witnessed public university enrolments boosted by 8% to 15 million while private universities in the US have recorded an increase of 5.5% to a whopping 5.4 million!

How to Choose Between Public vs Private Universities: Which is Better?

To choose between public vs private universities,  various parameters should be considered before making the final decision. In the segment below, various parameters have been mentioned separately which are the major points of difference between both the types of universities. It will help provide an overview of how to choose a proper university type for a prospective student satisfying all their needs.

Educational Costs 

Public Universities charge less tuition fees but the selection criteria to get accepted into these universities can be difficult due to high competition. On the other hand, private universities charge a higher tuition fee, but selection criteria are more flexible. Even though government-funded schools are supported through state and bureaucratic projects, they at times can charge an astronomical amount whilst some private schools charge a reasonable amount looking at the caliber of the student and their probability of excelling.

Campus Size and Culture 

A few people flourish in a loud, swarmed condition, while others incline toward a peaceful and comfortable environment that isn’t overpowering and thus a campus size can play a gigantic role in choosing the correct institution. Numerous public universities have a bigger campus to be able to accommodate a huge student body. Private schools pride themselves on their diversity while still having a smaller, more private campus. It depends on the choice of the student and the environment they find conducive for learning and to be able to leverage their strengths.

Scholastics and Acceptance Rate

Most of the private schools, particularly if they are an Ivy League institution have tough scholastic and acceptance guidelines. A prospective student is required to meet all their prerequisites and once accepted into the school a student is required to keep up to their high scholarly principles. Public universities have fewer requirements when compared to private universities and more flexible admission criteria. 

Did you know? University of Bologna located in Italy was founded in 1088 and holds the title of the oldest public university in the world!


Is it better to go to a public or private college?

Public universities charge a lower fees than private universities across the world which makes the former a better option. However, it is best to judge every college across several parameters and take all facts into consideration before accepting an offer.

Why public universities are better?

Public Universities charge lower tuition fees but are also extremely competitive and have a low acceptance rate.

Why are private universities better?

Private Universities are an excellent choice for higher education, though, the tuition fee is higher, they offer financial aid to need-based students. Some of the best universities like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford universities are private-run higher education institutions.

Which universities are better private or public in USA?

The USA has over 4000 universities and some of its best universities like Harvard, Yale, UCB, Johns Hopkins are a mix of both private and public universities. Depending upon personal preference, tuition cost, course details and future prospects one should decide their college.

Are you also looking for opportunities to study abroad? If the answer is yes, the experts at Leverage Edu can make your journey easier as they will be guiding you throughout the process. To take help from the experts simply register on our website or call us at 1800-572-000.

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    1. Hi, Mushkan! Below are some of the top colleges of BBA in Kolkata.
      Bhawanipur Education Society College, Kolkata
      JDBI Kolkata
      The Heritage Academy, Kolkata
      Future Institute of Engineering and Management, Kolkata

      For more help, ring us at 1800 57 2000!

    1. Hi, Mushkan! Below are some of the top colleges of BBA in Kolkata.
      Bhawanipur Education Society College, Kolkata
      JDBI Kolkata
      The Heritage Academy, Kolkata
      Future Institute of Engineering and Management, Kolkata

      For more help, ring us at 1800 57 2000!