The increasing demand for tertiary education in Malawi gave rise to the dawn of a new era in policies governing higher education. The Malawi government permitted the existence of private universities and colleges to act complementary to the fewer public institutions of higher learning that were failing to accommodate a significant number of candidates who qualified for the pursuance of tertiary education. This paper reviews the origins and current trends in private higher education. It further examines the advantages and disadvantages of the system – primarily its complementariness to the public university system and the accompanying lowering standards of quality in the private institutions of higher learning respectively. The paper also offers insights into possible areas of improvement in both policy regulation and adherence to quality standards by the various private institutions of higher learning.