Public or private university

05 August 2022 | University life

What is the difference between public and private universities?

To decide which university is best for you, you must first decide which subject you are going to dedicate the next few years of your life to, which degree best reflects your interests and what it is that motivates you.

Once you have decided which degree you want to study, you should consider the differences between public and private universities and take them into account when choosing where you are going to go.

One of the main differences is the cost of your degree. In Spanish public universities you will have help paying for your studies and fees are regulated by law. In private universities you have to pay the total cost of enrolment, which is a large sum of money not everyone can afford.

In general, private universities in Spain tend to be smaller, both physically and also in terms of the size of the student body. This is great when it comes to class sizes but not so positive when it comes to campus services and how lively the student environment is.

Finally, students who attend public universities in Spain can apply for financial assistance by completing the relevant forms for the academic year to obtain university grants. It is more difficult to apply for this type of help if you are going to a private university.

These are some of the differences between private and public universities and you should keep them in mind when deciding which university to attend.

Advantages of Spanish public universities

The advantages of choosing to attend a public university in Spain include:

  • Life on campus: as we’ve already said, private university campuses are larger and the number of people on these campuses make them very dynamic places. They host numerous extracurricular activities you can sign up for and are home to many student organizations which reflect the interests of their members, and all this can contribute to giving you an incredible experience of university life.
  • Cheaper: costs tend to be more affordable. The enrolment fee and living costs (if relevant) are cheaper than at private universities. So if you want to save money the best option is going to a public university.
  • Degree programmes: public universities offer a larger number of degree programmes. This is particularly beneficial for those who want to specialize during their degree studies and study in a more technical field. Also, if you want to change to a different degree and validate the subjects you have already studied, the wide range of courses on offer will mean you can change degree without having to change institution and you can continue at your chosen university.

Advantages of Spanish private universities

if you have decided to study at a private university in Spain, here are some advantages of this option:

  • Small class sizes: private universities have fewer students per class which means you will get greater attention from your teachers and build closer relationships with your fellow students.
  • Greater prestige: public universities offer a wider range of degree courses but private universities are remarkably prestigious. Attending one could mean that doors open more readily to your future career, leading you a better job or making it easier for you to get the job you want.
  • Opportunities to meet more people: the people who study in private universities tend to come from a more diverse range of backgrounds. The prestige of these institutions draws students from other countries and from other parts of Spain to them, meaning it’s possible that their student bodies may be more diverse than those at public universities.

Which should I choose: public or private university?

Choosing your university is a very personal decision and will depend on your circumstances, what you want to study and which institution will give you the best education.

Crunch the numbers, thinking about the considerable cost differences between attending a private or public university. Take into account if you will have to live away from home as this will also involve greater costs. Balance these factors against the degree options they both offer.

We hope this summary of the differences between private and public universities and the advantages of both helps you decide which is the best option for you to continue your studies.

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