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IGNOU: A Brief Profile

The Indira Gandhi National Open University was established by an Act of Parliament in 1985. Today it serves the educational aspirations of about 1.8 million students in India and 32 countries abroad through 21 Schools of Studies and an elaborate network of 58 Regional centres, 1804 study centres, and 49 overseas centres. The University is making all efforts to take higher education to the doorsteps of the hitherto unreached. As of now, we cater to about 10% of all students enrolled in higher education in the country are enrolled with IGNOU. Apart from teaching and research, extension and training form the mainstay of its academic activities. It also acts as a national resource centre; and more importantly, functions as an apex body to promote and maintain standards of distance education. The University has its presence in 32 countries. The Commonwealth of Learning has recognised it as one of its centres of excellence. It also has the unique privilege of hosting the Secretariats of SAARC Consortium of Open Distance Learning (SACODiL) approved by Heads of Govts. of SAARC Nations and Global Mega Universities Network (GMUNET) initially promoted by UNESCO.The vision statement of the university reads as:

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 massive human resource required for promoting integrated national development and global understanding.

In order to fulfil the vision of democratising higher education and providing access to all segments of people, the University

* imparts education and knowledge through various flexible means suited to the open and distance education mode, including information and communication technologies;
* provides higher education and training to large sections of population, particularly the disadvantaged segments of the society;
* promotes national integration and the integrated development of human personality;
* encourages, co-ordinates and assists open universities and distance learning systems to improve standards in such systems.


The university offers a large number of need-based programmes and courses through multi-channels of learning with the learner at the focus. Some of the unique features of the system are:

Need-Based Academic Programmes

The University offers 138 academic programmes that are need-based, unconventional, and vocation-oriented with a focus on socio-economic development and serving the disadvantaged. The programmes are at the awareness, certificate, diploma, degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral) levels and offered through multiple instructional package with the convergence of different methodologies and technologies.

Diversified Learner Groups

IGNOU caters to learners from rural and tribal areas, physically-challenged, jail inmates and rehabilitation houses, government and non-government sectors, parents and home-makers, the employers and the employed. The University has put special focus on women, socially and economically disadvantaged groups, the north-east region, other tribal and low literacy areas of the country.

Rigorous Course Development

The procedures adopted for development of various multiple-media learning packages are aimed at maintaining the quality of learning. The University follows a rigorous course design and development procedure, based on the principles of good practices in curriculum development and instructional design. IGNOU utilises the expertise available in-house and with international, national institutions and non-government organisations in the team-approach. Our remarkable success in collaborating with Open Universities in the SAARC region and international organisations like Commonwealth of Learning, World Bank, World Intellectual Property Organisation, World Health Office, various Ministries, reputed research institutes and NGO’s has helped us to develop niche market oriented areas such as Post Graduate Diploma in Environment and Sustainable Development, Intellectual Property Rights, Community Cardiology, Ophthalmology,  Hospitality, Integrated Doctoral Programmes in Physics and Mathematics, HIV/AIDS, Disaster Management, Public Policy, Human Rights, Nautical Sciences, Power Distribution Management, Construction Workers, Rural Artisans, Motor Mechanics, Gandhi and Contemporary World etc.

Multi-Channel Learning

The University provides a multi-media learning system comprising print, audio, video, radio, television, teleconferencing, interactive radio counselling,    Internet-based learning and face-to-face counselling.

On-line Learning

To meet the emerging needs of information era, the University offers some programmes on-line through tele-learning centres through its virtual campus initiatives.

Credit System and Modularity

The University follows the credit system whereby each course and programme has a specified number of credits. Each credit involves 30 hours of study time of the learners. The learners can accumulate credits as per their convenience. The University has also adopted the modular approach, which helps the learners in moving gradually, through small modules, towards higher levels of learning. The combination of modules leads to certificate, diploma and degree programmes in an area of study.

Flexible and Individualised Learning

In tune with the nature of the open learning system, the University offers a lot of flexibility and openness to the learners in terms of :

        Eligibility and Admission procedures

        Place of study

        Pace and duration of study

Student Support Network

The university provides effective student support services through a network of

        · 33 Regional Centres located in the capital city of almost every state.

        · 25 recognised regional centres catering to Army, Air Force, Navy, CRPF and Assam Rifles personnel. These centres operate under single window system.

        · 1804 Study Centres, work and programme centres, and partner institutions spread across the country. At the study centres, the learners are provided the services in respect of: subject-specific academic-counselling, audio and video viewing, library facilities, teleconferencing, information services related to rules, regulations, counselling and examination schedules of the university, assignment submission, evaluation and feedback, term-end examinations, computer access, lab and other practicals.

Nearly 48,000 academic peers from various disciplines of the conventional University system are involved in these operations. IGNOU has established a Campus Placement Cell located in Regional Services Division to help its learners seek employment. The student services centre at the headquarters reports to the Vice-Chancellor and at regional centres to respective Regional Directors.

Multilingual Instructional Packages

Most programmes and courses offered by IGNOU are available in English and Hindi. In addition, a number of courses are also being offered in a number of Indian Languages by the university.


Academic Programmes

Unlike the conventional system, distance education involves team teaching where a host of specialists are involved in the design, development, delivery and evaluation of multi-media self-learning materials. The University offers 138 academic programmes comprising 1300 courses at certificate, diploma and degree levels. In addition, a number of non-accredited extension and skill-oriented programmes are on offer through eleven Schools of Studies.

An important feature of IGNOU’s course materials is their wide acceptability, authenticity and latest content.

Electronic Media

Reaching a large number of students and further enriching/explaining the study materials have been the major objectives of audio, video, radio, television, radio counselling, teleconferencing, and the like. The University has a state-of the-art electronic media production centre (EMPC). The following media resources are available in the University:

Regular two-way audio and one-way video teleconferencing: About 750 interactive nodes spread all over the country offer two-way interactive tele-counselling, tele-teaching, tele-training, tele-discussion and extended contact programme. The facility has gone digital and is now available through INSAT-3B.

        · With the availability of EduSat, which has its footprints all over the country, the University has established two-way video and two-way audio Edusat supported networks; 134 Satellite Interactive Terminals enable our students to interact with faculty and experts in a virtual distributed classroom. The Rajiv Gandhi Project for Edusat supported Elementary Education, supported by MHRD and ISRO, is located at Jabalpur and caters to 850 primary school students in Madhya Pradesh, Utar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. It is now possible for the University to take education to the remotest corner and address the last mile question.

        · Interactive radio counselling: To bridge the gap between the institution and the learners through instant response to their academic and administrative queries. Now, 186 radio stations across the country broadcast interactive phone-in counselling every Sunday (4.00-5.00 p.m.). The students participate from their home through toll-free telephone to interact with the experts at various AIR studios.

        · Gyan Darshan: IGNOU is nodal agency for coordinating a bouquet of educational TV channels under the banner of Gyan Darshan (GD). Of these, GD-1 is a 24-hour exclusive National Educational channel. The Gyan Darshan channel uses C Band transponder of INSAT 3C. In addition, IGNOU also coordinates the functioning of GD-2, GD-3, and GD-4. GD-2 channel is being used as interactive channel by the University for tele-counselling, tele-lecturing, tele-training and virtual convocation. Teachers/resource persons address ‘live’ from EMPC studio through video and audio satellite links to the student groups assembled at various centresacross the country. It is also used to interact with Regional Centre and Study Centre functionaries on various operational aspects. GD-3, called Ekalavya channel, is exclusively devoted to technology education for the benefit of students of IITs and other engineering colleges in India. GD-4, called Vyas channel, is to telecast high quality higher education programmes to bridge the knowledge and information gap between different areas and institutions in the country.

        · Gyan Vani is a ‘Radio Cooperative’ devoted exclusively to education and community development. Its main objective is to bridge the gap between educationally privileged and deprived. As of now, 21 FM radio stations are fully operational and three are under test run. Work is at an advance stage of commencement in 10 other cities. These interactive, participatory educational stations are aimed at greater empowerment of the people, particularly the disadvantaged.

Material Production and Delivery

Except a few on-line courses, for which the course materials are available on the Internet, materials for all other programmes are despatched through post; more than one million packets are despatched to students every year. The University also makes its materials available to all other institutions (SOUs and CCIs) and conventional students through private booksellers and its own marketing cell, located at Headquarters.

Student Evaluation

In IGNOU, continuous evaluation and feedback to students form an integral part of evaluation and certification. Student evaluation is in the form of evaluation of tutor-marked and computer-marked assignment-responses, projects, term-end examination scripts, etc. The weightage of continuous component varies in the range 20-30% and the term-end component carries 70-80% weightage. The University conducts term-end examination through a network of about 700 examination centres spread across the length and breadth of the country. In the nineteenth Convocation of the University held in 2008, 1,01,346 students were awarded certificates, diplomas and degrees.


The Indira Gandhi National Open University has the unique distinction of combining the conventional role of a university with that of the apex body in the promotion, coordination and maintenance of standards in distance education. The University established the Distance Education Council (DEC) to promote initiatives for the coordinated development of distance education in the country. DEC has put in place mechanisms for developmental and research funding, common pool of programmes and sharing, quality assurance at institutional and operational levels, credit transfer, institutional and programme evaluation and accreditation, collaboration and networking. Funding, materials and human expertise support is extended to the state open universities and university correspondence course institutes. In this sense, the University acts as a national resource centre.


The University has extended outreach of its academic and training programmes to overseas students in 35 countries. The University promotes its academic programmes through the international cell by establishing bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation and exchanges. Currently, programmes are offered, in combination with face-to-face counselling support, in African and Asian nations such as Abu Dhabi, Al Ayn, Doha, Dubai, Al Fujayrah, Kuwait, Sharjah, Sultanate of Oman (Muscat), Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Kenya, Naimbia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Sonne, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. Also, the University offers visiting fellowships to the academics and other categories of staff working in the open universities of Asia under the Inter-University Staff Exchange Scheme. The University hosts, supports and participates in national and international conferences to give impetus to research and encourage its academics.  The University is participating in the Pan-African Project of Govt. of India as the main e-content provider for tele-education in 53 countries.