Higher Education

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 701–715 | Cite as

Global private higher education: an empirical profile of its size and geographical shape

  • Daniel C. LevyEmail author


Societies’ relative use of private and public services is an abiding and significant issue of scholarly and policy interest. For higher education, however, there has hitherto been no comprehensive dataset and, accordingly, no extensive, reliable analysis of the private-public distribution. As this article provides both the dataset and the analysis, it allows us to discover both the size and geographical shape of global private higher education. Having grown greatly for decades, the private sector now holds a third (32.9%) of the world’s total higher education enrollment. We find striking patterns of concentration and dispersion. The several largest country systems account for much of the private enrollment but, simultaneously, private sectors now exist in all but a few systems; a stunning 97.6% of the world’s present enrollment is in systems with dual-sector provision. Societies no longer rely exclusively on public provision. We discover too that private enrollment concentrates mostly in developing regions, though it is noteworthy in developed regions as well. Asia and Latin America are the twin giants but in all regions, at least 10% of students are in the private sector.


Private Public Global Regional Sectors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Policy & LeadershipSUNY AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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