Find a Uni

Public vs Private Universities

Published by Afterschool.my on Aug 10, 2020, 01:41 pm

The battle for providing the best education continues.

As universities are striving for sustainability at a fast pace, both private and public institutions have their own edge to attract and accommodate students.

There are 20 public universities in Malaysia and the number of private universities are increasing steadily. What separates the two types of institution are as follows:

1. Funding

Private: Total tuition fees can go up to hundred thousands ringgit.

Public: Total tuition fees rarely exceeds RM30,000.

Most public universities are funded by the government whereas most private institutions are either self-funded or a child company of bigger corporations. This leads to the margin of tuition fees, as most private universities are more expensive than that of public universities.

An example of fees structure in a Malaysian public university.

However, private universities tend to offer different types of financial aids such as tuition fee waiver. Students who are facing financial issues may benefit from the scholarships available.

2. Facilities & Size

University of Malaya

Public universities are massive compared to private universities. This is due to the fact that they need to provide variety of courses, and cater to the thousands of locals enrolling every year.

Private institutions on the other hand are smaller in nature and are limited in terms of land space and facilities. However, they’re more focused on providing coursed based facilities.

It is perhaps not surprising that public universities have better equipment compared to private universities. Most public universities are well-equipped with library resources and sports facilities such as gymnasium, swimming pools and archery ranges. Very few private universities are able to match these facilities.

However, in terms of student accommodation, private universities tend to offer more luxurious residency options compared to public universities.

3. Courses


In most public universities, they provide numerous courses from a wide range of fields. Private universities do not provide the broad range of courses like public universities; however, they are more focused on their own respective specialized fields.

Courses in public universities tend to be more theoretical as public universities focus heavily on academic research. On the other hand, courses in private universities tend to be more practical as private universities focus on preparing students for the workforce. Many private institutions work closely with different companies. Hence, students often have better chance to get hands-on experience outside classroom.

In public universities, admission can be very competitive based on the merit system. In private universities, admission to your desired course is more straightforward and depends on availability.

If you wish to secure a place in your desired course without taking any risk, private universities might be your best option. If you wish to get a popular course in a renowned public university such as UM or USM, you need to work extra hard for your studies as well as for your co-curricular activities.

4. Qualification of Teaching Staff

According to the statistics released by Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education in 2019, the number of academic staff and their highest qualifications from both public and private universities are as follow:

Public Universities

Private Universities



















Public universities tend to have a higher percentage of PhD holders for their teaching staff as compared to private universities. However, it is not to say that a lecturer can simply be judged based on his or her qualification.

If you are pursuing a research-based or knowledge-intensive course such as STEM, you might wish to go for universities with higher-qualified lecturers.

If you are pursuing a more hands-on course such as Culinary Art and Fashion Design, the academic qualifications of lecturers may not result in much differences.

5. Demographics


Private universities are notable for the large number of international students enrolled, compared to public universities. The reason behind the demographic gap is due to the nature of entry requirements from both universities.

Private universities are more flexible when it comes to admission and enrolment, whereas for public universities, they’re strict and local-students oriented.

Ultimately, which ever university you study in depends on factors such as: tuition costs, college life, transportation, environment and your field of interest. A university may prepare you for your field, but it’s up to the individuals to prepare themselves for life.

Latest News

Need help?