The Program for Research on Private Higher Education
Dedicated to Building Knowledge about Private Higher Education around the World
WP No.11

Access through Private Higher Education: Global Patterns and Indian Illustrations


Levy, Daniel C. (2008)  "Access through Private Higher Education: Global Patterns and Indian Illustrations”. PROPHE Working Paper No.11. Revised and published as: Levy, D.C. (2008) Access via Private Higher Education. In Gupta, A., Levy, D.C., Powar, K.B. (Eds.) Private Higher Education: Global trends and Indian Perspectives. New Delhi: Shipra Publications. pp. 15-28.


One of the salient concerns in contemporary higher education internationally is access, which is rapidly expanding. Another salient trend is the rapid expansion of private higher education. These two salient tendencies have not been treated in scholarship as heavily intertwined. Much of the reason is that many people associate “private” with “elite,” in part because of the U.S. reality of leading private universities clearly associated with elite functioning. In much of the rest of the world, suspicion of privates runs deep and there is little disposition to couple the negative connotations of private with the positive connotations of access.

Yet as enrolment has been rising rapidly and keeps increasing, there are strong limitations on what can be accommodated through public higher education. Practically, either access is spurned, widely considered politically, socially, and even economically untenable or there must be explosive growth of private higher education. This is largely a matter of demand for higher education greatly outdistancing at least the public supply of higher education. Thus, much of the link between access and private higher education concerns “demand-absorbing” institutions, which is not to overlook more specialized avenues of access to other types of private institutions. At any rate private higher education has grown powerfully in recent decades and seems destined to grow further.  India is a marked case of still very low cohort enrolment in higher education but with great demand and rapid private growth.

Date Published:
Aug 2008