While higher education is regarded a high priority for economic development in many countries, public budgets often fall short to support desired levels of expansion in higher education. This leads to cost‐sharing: students and their families are required to contribute more to the costs of higher education. This paper explores worldwide trends to cope with this issue based on the following questions: Is it fair to ask for larger contributions from students? What are the global patterns and forms of higher private shares in the costs of higher education? And what is the impact of cost‐sharing on higher education access and equity?