The Program for Research on Private Higher Education
Dedicated to Building Knowledge about Private Higher Education around the World
WP No.7

An Introductory Global Overview: The Private Fit to Salient Higher Education Tendencies


Levy, Daniel C. 2006. "An Introductory Global Overview: The Private Fit to Salient Higher Education Tendencies". PROPHE Working Paper No.7. Revised and published as: Levy, D.C. (2006) The Private Fit to Salient Higher Education Tendencies. In Foster, J. & Altbach, P.G. International Handbook of Higher Education. Springer Publications.


Private higher education has surged in recent decades and now forms a major part of the world's total higher education. A fourth of total enrollment might be a reasonable guess, albeit a very rough one. Only Western Europe remains mostly marginal to the global trend. Whether new or continuing, contemporary private growth is notable, especially in developing regions.

This working paper provides only an introductory, quite partial sketch of how private higher education tends to fit broader higher education patterns, particularly patterns of recent change. Since higher education, and even just private higher education, is very diverse and involves multiple tendencies, it would be far too simple to say merely that private higher education fits broad higher education tendencies. Yet we see reason to highlight private sector characteristics such as huge expansion, responses to rising student demand and changing economies, average smallness in institutional size, tuition dependence, commercial orientations, hierarchical governance, political order, and a certain global self-identification. On the other hand, comparatively limited on the private side are academic research, graduate education, full-time staff, government finance, and government control.

Date Published:
Sep 2006