Exploring types of higher education institutions

Updated: Sep 23



Higher education institutions or universities serve as a space for students to gain knowledge and skills needed for employment, achieve personal growth, and eventually contribute to their community. When choosing a university to pursue your higher education, It is vital to understand all the available options and types of universities you can select from.

This article will mainly look at the four common types of higher education institutions: public, private, private for-profit, and private non-profit universities. These institutions have differences and similarities in operating and providing their educational services, including the tuition fee, major choices, learning environment, and organizational nature.

Tuition fee variation is one of the factors in distinguishing the difference between public and private schools. Another noteworthy characteristic is whether the institutions are for-profit or non-profit. Most public universities are run by the state and are non-profit, but private institutions can be both. Depending on the nature of the private institution, the availability of scholarship and financial aid opportunities will differ.


Public universities

A public university is a university state-owned and funded by the public through a national or subnational government. Tuition fees at public universities are usually much lower than the tuition at private universities. Public universities generally have larger class sizes than private universities and offer a wider array of program offerings.


Private universities

Unlike a public university, the funding source of the private university comes from tuition, investments, and private donors. Private universities are often owned by investors or run as businesses. Private schools have smaller class sizes than public schools. Their emphasis is more on individual students and offering specialized academic programs.


Private for-profit universities

A private for-profit university is a university that is owned and operated by a private company or business. They mainly generate revenue from tuition and fees from students. For-profit schools usually offer career-based training programs, focusing on the students' learning outcomes.


Private non-profit universities

A private non-profit university operates independently under the supervision of a board of trustees. They channel funds from tuition and fees and donors, and most of the revenue comes from donations. Non-profit private schools usually offer scholarships and financial aid to students. They reinvest the surplus/profit from the income on curriculum development and educational programs. Most non-profit private universities are liberal arts and sciences institutions.


Except for the private non-profit university, all three types of higher education institutions are already familiar to the majority of people in Myanmar. An example of this would be Parami University which is modeled based on the non-profit private university model. It is governed by a board of trustees and aims to make liberal arts and sciences education accessible to people from diverse backgrounds by practicing need-based admissions.
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