Non-state provision accounts for more than one third of tertiary education students worldwide, a considerably higher share than in primary or secondary education. Providers are diverse, respond to a variety of needs, and often blur the line between the state and non-state sectors. Non-state actors are also important players in the financing of tertiary education through households, market mechanisms and public–private partnerships. As a result, these actors play a significant role in influencing regulations and policymaking, and in shaping the tertiary system as a whole. Governments must ensure quality and equity, the key dimensions of Sustainable Development Goal target 4.3, regardless of how state and non-state actors share responsibilities.