The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), established by an Act of Parliament in 1985, has continuously striven to build an inclusive knowledge society through inclusive education. It has tried to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by offering high-quality teaching through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode.
The University began by offering two academic programmes in 1987, i.e., Diploma in Management and Diploma in Distance Education, with a strength of 4,528 students.
Today, it serves the educational aspirations of over 4 million students in India and 36 other countries through 21 Schools of Studies and a network of 67 regional centres, around 3,000 learner support centres and 67 overseas centres. The University offers about 490 certificate, diploma, degree and doctoral programmes, with a strength of nearly 420 faculty members and academic staff at the headquarters and regional centres and about 36,000 academic counsellors from conventional institutions of higher learning, professional organisations, and industry among others.
The mandate of the University is to:
- Provide access to higher education to all segments of the society;
- Offer high-quality, innovative and need-based programmes at different levels, to all those who require them;
- Reach out to the disadvantaged by offering programmes in all parts of the country at affordable costs; and
- Promote, coordinate and regulate the standards of education offered through open and distance learning in the country.
- To achieve the twin objectives of widening access for all sections of society and providing continual professional development and training to all sectors of the economy, the University uses a variety of media and latest technology in imparting education. This is reflected in the formulated vision of IGNOU, keeping its objectives in focus, which reads:
The Indira Gandhi National Open University, the National Resource Centre for Open and Distance Learning, with international recognition and presence, shall provide seamless access to sustainable and learner-centric quality education, skill upgradation and training to all by using innovative technologies and methodologies and ensuring convergence of existing systems for large-scale human resource development, required for promoting integrated national development and global understanding.
The University has made a significant mark in the areas of higher education, community education and continual professional development. The University has been networking with reputed public institutions and private enterprises for enhancing the educational opportunities being offered by it. As a world leader in distance education, it has been conferred with awards of excellence by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada, several times. In January 2010, it was listed 12th in the webometric ranking of Indian universities, based on the calibre of its presence on the Internet.
The University is committed to quality in teaching, research, training and extension activities, and acts as a national resource centre for expertise and infrastructure in the ODL system. The University has established the Centre for Extension Education, National Centre for Disability Studies and National Centre for Innovation in Distance Education, to focus on specific learner groups and enrich the distance learning system. The Distance Education Council of the University helps in regulating and maintaining the ODL system in the country.
With the launch of EduSat (a satellite dedicated only to education) on 20th September, 2004, and the establishment of the Inter-University Consortium, the University has ushered in a new era of technology-enabled education in the country. Today, there are 134 active two-way video-conferencing centres; all the regional centres and high enrollment study centres have been provided with network connectivity, which has made it possible to transact interactive digital content.
Emphasis is now being laid on developing interactive multimedia and online learning, and adding value to the traditional distance education delivery mode with modern technology-enabled education within the framework of blended learning. As part of this endeavour, several programmes are being offered full-time on campus, at the headquarters, some regional centres and at other institutions of repute with which IGNOU has agreements for this purpose.
The University also has a considerable international presence, as has been said earlier. It encourages and funds the participation of its faculty in international conferences and seminars, and organises several international conferences too.
There are regular visits of foreign scholars, for delivering lectures or to interact with faculty. The University has given copyright or permission to many foreign institutions to adapt/adopt/use its learning materials, apart from offering its academic programmes across the world through partnership arrangements.
Over the years, IGNOU has lived up to the country’s expectations of providing education to the marginalised sections of society. Free of cost education is being provided to all jail inmates across the country. A large number of SC/ST students have been admitted to various programmes of the University.
An innovative Bachelor of Arts programme in Applied Sign Language has been launched in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire (UcLAN) of Britain. The programme is the first-of-its-kind in the world.