Blog Students Advice For Students Local vs. Private Universities: How to Decide?

Local vs. Private Universities: How to Decide?

Singapore is one of the best locations in the world for students who wish to pursue tertiary education. The country is home to several top universities, recognized for their comprehensive curriculum and the career opportunities they offer to their graduates.

Some of these universities even open doors to graduates in such a way they can undertake exchange programs in various parts of the globe to improve their mastery in the fields they wish to pursue.

Both local and private universities are preferred by both Singaporean and international students because of their appeal to employers and the opportunities it opens. The schools are offering the same international standards offered by overseas universities and exchange programs for a affordable tuition fee.

With this in mind, how do you pick between local universities and private universities? Here’s a short guide to help you decide between these two types of educational institutions.

Fees and other money issues

When looking into universities, you have to think about the costs that you will have to pay for your entire tenure in the university.

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If you will go for local or public universities, you may be entitled to government subsidies such as the “tuition grant”. This grant can cover part of your studies or the fees you have to pay for in school, which is a bonus if you are on a budget or don’t like to take out a student loan to pay for them.

Aside from the grant, public universities also offer more financial aid programs and scholarships to students.

Meanwhile, private universities do not usually enjoy government subsidies or grants. As a result, they do have higher tuition fees than other institutions.

However, private universities are now teaming up with sponsors to provide students with financial assistance. Some even offer interest-free student loans that will help with their burden in school. Find out here the different scholarships offered in Singapore and how you can go about applying for them successfully. 

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements of both public and private universities vary, especially when it comes to assessing the applicant’s capacity to keep up with the course.

Public or local universities take a holistic method in recruiting their prospective students and consider their secondary school background, test results, extracurricular activities, personality and other key points that mirrors the school’s requirements.

They also do not use a specific grade threshold for their students, enabling them to have a more diverse pool of students each year.

Meanwhile, private universities have a strict criteria for student admissions. Most private universities often require a 5.5 to 6.0 (or higher) band score for IELTS or GCE ‘A’ level passes to qualify for their bachelor programmes. If you need help on your IELTS, you can ask us here.

There are also other key prerequisites that must be passed depending on the course you are trying to apply for. Read up on how to choose your university course.

Pathways & Structure

Curriculum pathways or structures is also another key point to consider when choosing between private or local universities.

Private universities differ when it comes to how your degree program will progress. Some degrees will require you to take a vocational training course so you can focus on your chosen subject without having to take general education subjects.

There are also universities that will allow students to take either part-time or full-time programs, which is ideal if you will be a working student or enter an exchange program.

As a result, you will definitely see older students in private universities and the length of study will vary immensely. Although this may sound odd at first since it will disable you from joining your peers, it does offer opportunities for networking.

On the other hand, public universities offer a well-rounded program that will allow you to fully focus on being a student. Their programs also enable you to study two different fields without affecting the pace of your actual course, which usually takes around 4 years to complete.

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As far as the community is concerned, it is tighter than private universities. Some public universities offer dorms where students can be with their peers and create a small community in the process.


When it comes to the accreditation of both universities, public universities will provide you with the accreditation personally to prove that you graduated from their institution.

Meanwhile, private universities often give students their degrees in partnership with their partner universities or institutions. This will also be the same format if you finished your degree as an exchange student.

Employment and salary outlook

Finally, both private and public universities will offer students different pathways when it comes to how employment and your salary will look like once you graduate.

If you are from a public university, you can get a job in any sector, especially in government sectors; however, the pay varies depending on the field you graduated. You also have a better chance in getting employment since you can take any opportunities presented to you.

For private universities, getting a full time employment can be difficult because many companies and businesses will be after graduates from these institutions.

They also have to undergo a stricter recruitment period to see if they are the best. If they do manage to get the job, the starting pay may start from $2,700 depending on the course you have finished and the school you came from.

It is important to take note; however, that once you do get employed, it won’t matter if you come from private or local universities.

Employers will look into your performance to see if you are worth the pay or not. There may be cases that public university graduates will get more chances in getting promoted if they show that they can take on larger challenges as compared to private university graduates. Here is our career advice for you!


Choosing between private and local universities can be a challenge, especially now that they offer the same opportunities to students. However, there will be areas where one is better than the other and may affect your overall experience as you study.

Take the time to study both institutions and see where you think you will flourish. If you see that you will do well in either one of these institutions, go for it and do your best to succeed!

Here are some articles to help you in your University path:

How to use your CPF to pay for University and Poly School fees?
Dropping Out of University: What Happens Next?

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.