Choosing Between Public and Private Universities: Pros and Cons

Are you an international student who is exploring the various modes of seeking education in the competitive education sphere of Australia? Then you are not alone, some ample students find themselves stuck in this confusion and end up being frustrated or with nothing in hand. The education system of Australia is simple yet innovative with new advancements and updates in the curriculum but if you are a prospective student and finding your best in choosing amongst the universities and colleges to study in Australia then this blog serves you the best to resolve your queries related to the matter. Selecting the ideal university goes beyond picking an institution with a renowned name or a picturesque campus. Factors including academic programs, campus culture, location, resources, etc sum up the overall attributes while choosing a perfect university. 

Whether you're a high school senior weighing your college choices or a transfer student seeking a new academic home, this blog will serve as a valuable resource to guide you toward making the best decision for your future. 


Importance of Choosing the Right Type of University for One's Education

You shift to Australia to resume your education at higher levels, but falling into the path of selecting the wrong university can surely hamper your way to a trajectory of opportunities in the future. An international student has an intention of influencing their academic and personal growth, and it can be done by setting the initial steps right, that is, the selection of the right type of university in Australia. By selecting a university that resonates with your interests, values, and learning style, you can maximise your potential and lay a solid foundation for future success.

Tertiary education in Australia can be gained by applying to either public or private universities. Public universities, funded by the government, offer a wide range of programs and are known for their research contributions and academic excellence. Conversely, Private universities, operate independently and often have a more specialised focus or unique teaching approach. Let us look into both the types of universities to study in Australia. 

Public Universities 

When we talk about “public” in specific then we want to emphasise the universities governed and funded by the state government. These universities are highly crowded and are often larger than the private institutions. The tuition fees of studying in public universities are comparatively lower than the private colleges, and students who are residents of the state where the college is located may receive additional discounts on tuition fees.


Key Characteristics of Public Universities in Australia

1. Funding: As marked above, they are completely funded by the state government. These funds are allocated to cover various expenses including faculty salaries, facilities maintenance, research initiatives, and student services. 

2. Governance: These are governed by the state or national authorities, typically overseen by a board of trustees or regents appointed by government officials. Since these universities are overseen by authoritative bodies, they hold a significant degree of autonomy in academic and administrative matters. 

3. Mission & Accessibility: The main aim is to provide education to the residents of Australia whilst it is open to international students as well. Through a commitment to affordability, merit-based admissions, and outreach initiatives, these universities strive to dominate the educational sphere in Australia and provide access to education to the public without compromising on any aspect. 

4. Research & Service: It has been seen that most of the graduates from public universities strive to dominate the market of innovation and discovery. So, if you are planning to apply then you are assured to get entertained by the research and innovation in various fields. From scientific breakthroughs to social impact initiatives, these institutions contribute to the advancement of knowledge and the betterment of society. 

Listed below are some of the best public universities in Australia that offer top-class education at par with the requirements of the modern professional world:

a) The University of New South Wales, Sydney
b) Monash University, Melbourne
c) The University of Queensland, Brisbane
d) University of Western Australia, Perth
e) The University of Adelaide, Adelaide
f) University of Technology Sydney, Sydney
g) Macquarie University, Sydney 
h) RMIT University, Melbourne

Private Universities

As the word itself denotes the universities that are privately owned and are not in control of the state or national government, but they are bound to follow the education system of Australia without any doubt. These are primarily funded through tuition fees, donations, and endowments from private sources, such as individuals, foundations, and corporations. The proportion of students is comparatively less than in public universities and is much costlier. However, they often have more generous financial aid packages available to students who qualify. 

Key characteristics of Private universities in Australia

1. Funding: Private universities do not get benefitted or funded by the state government therefore they depend upon generous endowments, donations from alumni, and philanthropic organisations to support their academic endeavours. Other than that, the Tuition fees received from the students, collectively contribute a substantial portion of revenue for these universities.

2. Governance: These universities are operated and governed by independent boards of trustees or regents, composed of individuals from various professional backgrounds, including business, academia, and philanthropy. They are responsible for building the strategic overview, managing finances, and in appointing senior leaders, including the university president. 

3. Mission and integrity: They often articulate distinct missions and philosophies that reflect their institutional values, traditions, and aspirations. Whether rooted in religious heritage, liberal arts tradition, or a commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, private universities carve out a unique identity that sets them apart from their peers.

4. Academic excellence and innovation: Talking about the academic sphere the private university prioritises small class sizes, ample resources, and experiential learning so that the student can receive personalised support and potential skills to face real-world challenges. They also invest in cutting-edge facilities, state-of-the-art technologies, and interdisciplinary collaborations to advance research and scholarship across various disciplines. 

Listed below are some of the best private universities in Australia that offer quality education at par with the requirements of the modern professional world:

a) Carnegie Mellon University
b) Torrens University
c) University of Divinity
d) Avondale University
e) University Of Notre Dame


The Bright Side: Pros of Choosing a Public University 

1. Affordability: The tuition fee of a public university is less than that of a private university. Since they get sponsored by the state, they offer lower tuition rates. Moreover, these institutions provide financial aid packages, scholarships, and work-study opportunities to further alleviate the financial burden on students, ensuring that no qualified individual is denied access to higher education due to financial constraints. 

2. Diversity: These universities allow students to feel the essence of cultural diversity in a single place. It is a pot of diversity that holds students from various cultural, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds. Through exposure to diverse viewpoints and interactions with peers from different walks of life, students gain invaluable insights, develop cultural competence, and cultivate empathy and understanding. This diversity not only enhances the academic experience but also prepares students for success in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world.

3. Research opportunities: The faculty members themselves are graduates and professionals in their field of expertise. With their guidance and support students are able to be involved in research and other scholarly pursuits.  Whether through undergraduate research initiatives, collaborative projects with faculty mentors, or participation in interdisciplinary research centers, students have the chance to engage in hands-on learning experiences that deepen their understanding of their field of study and contribute to the advancement of knowledge. Moreover, public universities often receive significant funding for research grants and partnerships with industry, offering students exposure to real-world challenges and opportunities to make meaningful contributions to society through their research endeavours.


Cons of Public Universities in Australia

1. Large sized classroom: It is one of the prominent drawbacks of attending public universities, the large-sized classrooms result in less attention and more distraction. It lags personalised feedback which is essential for academic endeavours. With a higher student-to-faculty ratio, students find themselves in the crowd where they sense less attention from professors. Additionally, the sheer volume of students can lead to increased competition for resources, such as access to faculty office hours or research opportunities, further exacerbating feelings of anonymity or isolation.

2. Bureaucracy: As these universities are controlled by the government and regulated by bureaucratic processes, they are often contended with layers of administrative red tape that influence their efficiency and responsiveness. From navigating complex registration systems to securing financial aid or resolving academic disputes, students may encounter bureaucratic hurdles that delay or complicate their educational journey. 

3. Less Personalised Attention: Public universities may struggle to provide the level of personalised attention, which is aptly provided by private colleges. With larger class sizes, limited faculty resources, and competing demands for academic advising, counselling, and career services, students may find it challenging to access the personalised guidance and mentorship they need to thrive academically and personally.


Pros of Private Universities in Australia

1. Small, interactive classes: The beneficial aspect of private institutions is that they open gateways to interactive sessions, and an atmosphere of complete interactive classes, allowing students to enhance their academic pursuits. Compared to their public counterparts, private universities often prioritise intimate learning environments with lower student-to-faculty ratios. It also facilitates closer relationships between students and faculty, creating opportunities for mentorship, collaborative research, and personalised academic support, ultimately enhancing the quality of education and student outcomes.
Engaging professors: The professors at private universities help and guide students playing the role of mentor and not just a mere academic teacher. They possess market skills and experience and find interest in sharing them amongst other students to contribute to interactive sessions and cross-assessment of aspects related to the major field of study. The way students and teachers form a relationship they easily get access to feedback and makes a huge difference. 
Abundance of Resources: Private universities in Australia are renowned for their commitment to providing students with access to abundant resources and state-of-the-art facilities. From cutting-edge laboratories and research centers to comprehensive libraries and multimedia resources, private universities invest heavily in infrastructure and technology to support student learning and research endeavors. Moreover, these institutions often offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, internships, study abroad programs, and career development services to enrich the student experience and foster holistic growth. By leveraging these resources, students can explore their interests, pursue their passions, and gain practical skills and experiences that prepare them for success in their academic and professional pursuits.


Cons of Private Universities in Australia

1. High tuition cost: The cost of tuition fee is literally high compared to public institutions. Since these universities do not get any help from the state or the national government they get funded on their own or the owner, else the tuition fees, donations, and endowments are sources to sustain their operations and academic programs. As a result, it is the students who face the consequences of the high financial burden, including accommodation, tuition fees, and other living costs. 

2. Limited Financial aid: Unlike public universities, these universities offer limited financial aid to the students. While some private institutions provide scholarships, grants, and bursaries to support students with demonstrated financial need or academic merit, the availability and accessibility of financial aid may vary significantly across institutions. Such a lack can exacerbate socioeconomic disparities and hinder access to higher education for marginalised or underrepresented populations.

3. Less diversity: As mentioned above the significant drawback of limited financial aid and higher tuition fees acts as a hindrance in terms of exhibiting diversity across various demographics, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultural perspectives compared to public institutions. Such limited access can limit exposure to diverse viewpoints, experiences, and perspectives related to specific fields of study, resulting in minimising the ability to develop cultural competence, empathy, and global awareness. 


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

Though selecting which of the two is best for you revolves around individual interests, priorities, and circumstances, both universities have their own benefits as well as drawbacks, which have been mentioned above. Below are some important things to consider while shortlisting a university to study in Australia.

1. University and Ranking 

You can check the rankings of the universities, public or private from QS ranking 2024. Rankings help gauge a university’s global and national standing based on criteria like research quality, graduate employability, teaching excellence, and facilities. There are factors when compiled together that set the probability ratio of the universities to position in the chart, therefore if you look into the ranking of both types of universities, you can measure which one is right for you based on your preferences. 

2. Educational cost

The cost of seeking education is another aspect to determine which universities amongst the two meet your requirements. You should evaluate the tuition fees and cost of attendance at public and private universities. Public universities generally have lower tuition fees but selection criteria to get accepted into these universities can be difficult due to high competition. Whereas private universities charge high tuition fees, the selection criteria are more flexible. Consider your financial situation, including your ability to pay tuition fees and access financial assistance, when comparing costs between institutions.

3. Campus life  and culture

The public universities in Australia have bigger campus sizes, and lives and are able to accommodate a huge student body. Whereas Private institutions take pride in their diversity while still having a smaller, more private campus. Some students may prefer the vibrant and diverse community offered by public universities, while others may thrive in the close-knit and supportive environment of a private institution. But eventually, it is the sole preference of a student and the environment they feel comfortable with. 

4. Academic Programs and Reputation

It is incredibly helpful for your benefit to discover the area of interest and gain clarity pertaining to your course of study so that you can choose a university that meets the resources and provides you with opportunities for your career prospects. You can do that by analysing the academic programs and faculty expertise offered by both public and private universities. Additionally, you can consider universities’ rankings to stick to your decision while finding the best universities among the two. Some private universities may specialise in specific disciplines or offer innovative programs not available at public institutions, while public universities may have a broader range of academic offerings and research opportunities.

5. Class Sizes and Personalised Attention

While it depends upon the calibre of an individual, while considering the universities you should consider the class sizes and teaching approach at both public and private universities. While  Private universities often boast smaller class sizes and lower student-to-faculty ratios, Public universities on the other hand have huge class sizes. Small area allows for more personalised attention and interaction with professors. Whereas, expanded areas decrease the chances of personalised approaches. If you prefer a more intimate learning environment and value close relationships with faculty members, a private university may be a better fit for you. And if you believe that you can adjust with self studying then you have public universities on the other hand. 


It is basically a boon to select universities between public and private for seeking education in Australia. Like in any other country, Australia offers international students the opportunity to choose between both types. It has been observed that most of the students tend to choose and prioritise going to public institutions rather than private institutes as they are comparatively affordable and reputed around the world. Crucially, one should make judicious consideration of their financial situation prior to picking a college. It may help to make a list of the pros and cons and rank them in order of priority to what you consider to be important in your college life.  

For students seeking assistance with academic endeavours, including navigating the university selection process or managing assignments, Oz Assignments stands ready to provide support. Visit our website today to learn more and embark on your journey to academic excellence.

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