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A public university is a university that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government, as opposed to private universities. A national university may or may not be considered a public university, depending on regions. In some regions of the world prominent public institutions are highly influential centres of research; many of these universities are ranked among the world best in the THES - QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.


In Argentinamarker the National Universities, also called "Public or State-run Universities", is the name used to refer to all those institutions whose creation arose from the enactment of a National Congress Act, except for those whose creation preceded that of the state itself (as is the case of the National University of Cordobamarker and the University of Buenos Airesmarker). They lie as Public Law legal entities and their regular operation funding comes from the national state, pursuant to what is set out on the annual national budget act.

National universities hold the largest share of the entire Argentine university system: counting over 80% of the undergraduate population and with campuses stretched throughout to all provinces comprising the national territory, they account for over 50% of the country's scientific research while additionally providing technical assistance to both the public and private sectors.


In Australia, there are 38 public universities and 4 private universities. The private universities are Bond Universitymarker, the University of Notre Dame Australia (both Australian), and two foreign universities, Carnegie Mellon Universitymarker (USA) and Cranfield Universitymarker (UK), which have campuses in Adelaidemarker.

Australia's public universities are variously grouped:

There are also a number of ungrouped universities, such as the University of Tasmania, University of Canberramarker and the Australian Catholic Universitymarker, which has campuses in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Ballarat and Canberra and is open to all irrespective of religious persuasions.


There are 32 public universities in Bangladeshmarker as of May 2009. The University Grant Commission is the monitoring body for all the public universities in Bangladesh. The Universities does not deal directly with the government, but with the University Grants Commission, which in turn deals with the government. Recently many private universities are established under the Private University Act of 1992.


UFPR - Federal University of Parana, in Curitiba
In Brazilmarker, there are a few hundred public universities funded by the Federal or State governments, and they include the most renowned universities in the country, such as the University of São Paulo. Professors are public servants, most of them tenured and selected by public contests, where international research publications is a major criterion for hiring. Teaching load is usually modest and leaves time for research. In contrast, most private institutions are for-profit enterprises which hire teachers on a per-hour basis and have no research (notable exceptions are certain private but non-profit universities, mostly affiliated with religious organizations, such as the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiromarker).

There are no tuition or entrance fees in public universities (a right established in the Brazilian Federal Constitution), but since they accept only a small fraction of applicants, only well-prepared students can pass the entrance examination; so, in practice, most of their students come from middle and upper class families. Since 2005 the Brazilian Government has been offering a limited number of tuition grants to enable poor students to attend private universities.


In Canadamarker, education is a constitutional responsibility of the individual provinces. Most universities are established and operated under provincial legislation, but a few of the oldest were founded by Royal Charter. All major Canadian universities are publicly-funded but maintain institutional autonomy, with the ability to decide on admission, tuition and governance.

The Group of Thirteen is an organization of the country's thirteen leading research-intensive universities. Additionally, McGill Universitymarker and the University of Torontomarker are members of the Association of American Universities, along with sixty public and private institutions in the United Statesmarker. Private universities in Canada are relatively new and mostly exist at the undergraduate level.


Casa Central (Headquarters), Universidad de Chile
In Chilemarker, the public, or "traditional" universities are more renowned then the private universities. Although some "traditional" universities are private non-profit universities, they are considered public universities because they existed long before the 80s, when the military government of Augusto Pinochet created the first private universities. Even though state run universities are much cheaper than the private ones, they are not tuition free for the students. The most prestigious universities in Chile are the Universidad de Chile (state-run) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (private non-profit), these two universities have the students with the best scores in the admission test and also run the majority of the research in Chile (with the Universidad de Chile at the top). The non-traditional universities are for-profit universities, and don't have the same prestige as the "traditional" ones.


In Chinamarker, nearly all universities and research institutions are public. They are usually run by the provincial governments. Some public universities are national which are directly administered by the central government. There are few private undergraduate colleges (mostly engineering schools) sponsored by some private enterprises and the majority of these are not entitled to give bachelor degrees. All important and significant centers for higher education in the country are publicly administered.

Costa Rica

In Costa Ricamarker the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Universidad Nacional, the Universidad Estatal a Distancia and the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, all public universities, are among the nations most prestigious institutions. Nevertheless, the UN-sponsored University for Peace and the INCAE Business School (with campuses in Nicaraguamarker and Costa Rica), are also notable.


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In Egypt, Al-Azhar Universitymarker opened in 975 AD as the second oldest university in the world. It was followed by a lot of universities opened as public universities in the 20th century such as Cairo Universitymarker, Alexandria University, Ain Shams University, Assiut University, Beni-Suef University,Zagazig University,Suez Canal University, Benha University, where tuition fees are totally subsidized by the Government.


  • In Austriamarker, most of the universities are public. The tuition fees are also regulated by the state and are the same for all universities. Except for some studies, notably medicine, everybody who fulfills the condition of a secondary degree is allowed to attend a public university. Private universities have existed since 1999, but they still need state accreditation.

  • In Denmarkmarker, almost all universities are public and are held in higher esteem than their private counterparts. Until recently, tuition was free at all public universities.

  • In Finlandmarker all universities are public and free of charge.

  • In Germanymarker, most higher education institutions are public and operated by the states and all lecturers and professors are public servants. Until 2006, public universities were free of tuition fees; however, since then some states have adopted tuition fees.

  • In Greecemarker, all universities are public and enjoy de jure institutional autonomy, although in practice this autonomy is limited by ministerial interventions in issues such as student enrolment, academic recruitment and funding. With the exception of the Hellenic Open University, undergraduate programmes are offered tuition-free for Greek citizens, as are many post-graduate courses. Education is regarded as a constitutional responsibility of the state and the establishment of private universities is prohibited by the constitution. The article of the constitution regarding education was voted by the current parliament as one of those that will be amended by the next elected house of parliament. It is the intention of the current government to allow the establishment of private universities and recognize already existing private colleges as higher education institutions.

  • In Italymarker, almost all the universities are public, but they enjoy de jure institutional autonomy (limited by the state in practice, like in Greece). Students pay quite low tuition fees, decided by each university and related to the student's family wealth, to the course and to the student's performances in the exams. A few scholarships are also available for the best low-income students. Private funding, even for research, ranges from low to non-existent, compared to most other European countries.

  • In Polandmarker, universities are divided into a few categories; private universities which are operated by private citizens, societies or companies, and public universities created by Acts of Parliament. The Government pays all tuition fees, and other costs of students. Most private universities charge tuition fees directly to students, and these institutions are generally held in lower regard than public universities. A small number of private universities do not charge fees, such as John Paul II Catholic University of Lublinmarker, founded in 1918 and property of the Roman Catholic Episcopacy of Poland; the Polish Government pays all costs.

  • In Portugalmarker, there are 13 public universities, a university institute and a distance university. Higher education in Portugal provided by state-run institutions is not free, as a tuition fee must be paid, although being much lower than the tuition fees of the private ones. The highest tuition fee allowed by law in public universities was 901.23 euros/year (2007). The public universities include some of the most selective and demanding higher learning institutions in the country, noted for high competitiveness and nationwide reputation.

  • In Spainmarker there are a total of 73 universities, most of which are supported by state funding.

  • In Swedenmarker most universities are public. Education in Sweden is normally free, so there are no tuition fees at any university in Sweden, except for the compulsory Student Union membership (20 to 40 EUR in 2007).

  • In the United Kingdommarker, all universities are funded mostly by government teaching and research grants except for the University of Buckinghammarker. However, unlike in other European countries, the British government does not own the universities' assets and university staff are not civil servants. United Kingdom universities are therefore better described as independent institutions with public funding, rather than public universities per se.


In Indiamarker, most universities and nearly all research institutions are public. There are some private undergraduate colleges (mostly engineering schools) and the majority of these are affiliated to a public university. Few other private colleges are partially-aided by the state and central governments which results in reduced fees for the students. But all important and significant centers for higher education in the country are publicly administered.


There are eight official universities in Israelmarker. In addition, there are a few dozen colleges and other institutes of higher learning, as well as about a dozen foreign university extensions. All are academically supervised by the Council for Higher Education in Israel (CHEI). The main difference between a university and a college in Israel is that only a university can issue doctorate degrees. Theoretically, a college can apply to the CHEI to upgrade its status to university.


In Japanmarker, public universities refer to schools that are not national universities but are run by local governments, either prefectural or municipal. According to the Ministry of Educationmarker, public universities have "provided an opportunity for higher education in a region and served the central role of intellectual and cultural base for the local community in the region", and are "expected to contribute to social, economical and cultural development in the region."; this contrasts to research-oriented aspects of national universities.

As of April 2006, there were 76 public universities, compared to 87 national and 571 private universities, and 127,872 students attended the schools. The number of the public universities has increased sharply in recent years; in 1980 there were only 34 public universities and in 1993 there were 46. Since July 2003 when the Local Independent Administrative Institutions Law was put into effect, public universities have been allowed to be incorporated. The average tuition in public universities for 2007 fiscal year was 536,238 yen, the average entrance fee 399,351 yen and the average application fee 17,095 yen.


In Kenya, the Ministry of Education controls all of the public universities. Students are enrolled after completing the 8-4-4 system of education and attaining a mark of C+ or above. Students who meet the criteria for government sponsorship receive a loan from the Higher Education Loan Board. They are expected to pay back after completing higher education.


In Mexico, the UNAMmarker (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), sometimes simply known as the "National University of Mexico", was founded in 1551. It is the largest university in the country and one of the largest in the world with over 250,000 students including its system of high schools. By percentage, it contributes the most to the country's academic research and cultural development although there are other significant public institutions such as the Instituto Politécnico Nacionalmarker, and the federal state-run universities.


Tribhuwan University is the first public university of Nepalmarker. The university is highly reputed both in Nepal as well as abroad, and runs various programs in a wide number of academic disciplines. It operates through six different schools, and also provides affiliation to various colleges across the country.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, all universities are public. The oldest (University of Otagomarker) was established by Provincial Ordinance, the next six were established by individual Acts of Parliament, and one (Auckland University of Technologymarker) established by the currently preferred method, an Order-in-Council under the Education Act 1989.


In Pakistanmarker, universities are under the control of Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) (formerly the University Grant Commission). There are around 67 Public and 57 private universities in Pakistan. The University of Punjab is the biggest public university followed by the University of Karachimarker.


In Perumarker, the admission test required to enter national (public) universities requires higher scores. The public opinion sees this from the four century old National University of San Marcosmarker, that it has seen as the most respected public education institution in the country. Also many other public universities follow the same rigorous pattern used at Saint Mark's university, like National Agrarian University, the National University of Engineering and Federico Villarreal University.


Universities and colleges in the Philippines are controlled and managed by the Commission on Higher Education. There are more than 500 government-run higher education institutions, of which 436 are state colleges and universities, including satellite campuses, 31 local colleges and universities, and a handful of community colleges.

In 2008, state colleges and universities have a PHP 26.2-billion budget, out of which PHP 19.4 billion will be funded by direct subsidies.

South Africa

South Africa has 23 public tertiary educational institutions, either categorised as a traditional university or a comprehensive university (providing theoretical and vocational training). Prominent public South African universities include the University of Cape Townmarker, University of KwaZulu-Natalmarker, University of Pretoriamarker, University of Stellenboschmarker, University of Witwatersrandmarker and Rhodes Universitymarker.Monash University of Australia established a campus in Johannesburgmarker in 2001.

United States

In the United Statesmarker, most public universities are state universities founded and operated by state government entities; the oldest being the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillmarker and The University of Georgiamarker, although the overall oldest school now designated as public is The College of William & Marymarker (founded in 1693 and first considered private). Every U.S. state has at least one public university to its name, and the largest states have more than thirty. This is partly as a result of the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Acts, which gave each eligible state 30,000 acres (120 km²) of federal land to sell to finance public institutions offering courses of study in practical fields in addition to the liberal arts. Many U.S. public universities began as teacher training institutions and eventually were expanded into comprehensive universities. Examples include Missouri State Universitymarker, formerly Southwest Missouri State Teachers College; Texas State Universitymarker, formerly Southwest Texas State Teachers College; State University of New York at Cortlandmarker, formerly Cortland State Teachers College; the University of North Alabamamarker, formerly Florence State Teachers College and Georgia Southern University, formerly South Georgia Teacher's College.

States generally charge higher tuition to out-of-state students, a practice which the United States Supreme Courtmarker has deemed constitutional because the state is acting as a market participant providing a service, rather than protecting a fundamental right. The higher fees are based on the theory that students from the state have contributed to subsidizing the university by paying state taxes, while out-of-state students have not. It has never been determined whether the U.S. Constitution would allow the federal government to establish a federal university system; the only federally chartered universities that currently exist are those under the auspices of the U.S. military, such as West Pointmarker.

Historically, many of the prestigious universities in the United States have been private. Some public universities are also highly prestigious and increasingly selective though; Richard Moll designated such prestigious public universities Public Ivies. At schools like the University of Michiganmarker, The College of William & Marymarker, the University of California, Berkeleymarker, the University of California, Los Angelesmarker, the University of California, San Diegomarker, the University of Virginiamarker, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillmarker a vast majority of the departments are consistently highly ranked, allowing the schools to enjoy prestige similar or higher to that of an Ivy League university. State support of public universities has been declining, forcing many public universities to seek private support. Some professional graduate programs in law, business, and medicine rely almost solely on private funding.

There are also a number of public liberal arts colleges, including the members of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.

See also


  1. [1]
  2. [{61C0649C}&hitsperheading=on&softpage=DOC
  3. List of Public and Private Universities in Pakistan
  4. GMA NEWS.TV, RP universities get low rankings; La Salle, UST dropped out of Top 500. Accessed August 19, 2008.

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