Public and private universities: evolution of productivity and impact of the crisis
1Although the 33 private universities account for 40% of Spanish universities (83 in total), during the academic year 2016/17, they only comprised 14% of university students.
2The overall improvement in efficiency in universities brought about by the crisis has been more pronounced in public universities than in private universities, to the point that the level of efficiency of public universities has surpassed that of private universities.
3Despite a reduction in the resources of public universities between 2009/10 and 2013/14, their levels of production remained constant as the students enrolled when tuition fees increased (2012/13) had not yet graduated and most of the research underway in 2010 still produced results in 2013/14.
4The growth of the private university sector has not led to greater competition and transparency in higher education in Spain.
In the case of Europe, private universities tend to be smaller than public universities, which is why their weight in higher education systems is low. According to the most recent data from the European Tertiary Education Register (ETER), during the academic year 2014/15, nearly a third (32.6%) of European universities were private, although they accounted for only 24.1% of students enrolled in higher education in Europe. The case of Spain is not that different. Although the 33 private universities account for 40% of Spanish universities (83 in total), during the academic year 2016/17, they only comprised 14% of students.
Although both public and private universities operate within the same legal framework and are assigned the same fundamental tasks (teaching, research and knowledge transfer), public universities are constrained by greater regulation and stricter control mechanisms.
The differences that may affect the results obtained include those related to the faculty (private universities have greater flexibility as they do not have civil servants), the range of degrees (private universities tend to focus on a few areas of knowledge and postgraduate studies, whereas public universities tend to be more generalist) and the source of funding (public or private).