Since its establishment in 1985, IGNOU has contributed significantly to the development of higher education in the country through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode.
The 'People's University' follows a learner-centric approach and has successfully adopted a policy of openness and flexibility in entry qualifications, time taken for completion of a programme, and place of study.
The University, at present, offers 338 programmes of study through over 3,500 courses to a cumulative student strength of over 30 lakh students.
The programmes are offered by the University at the following levels: doctorate; masters and bachelors degree programmes; post-graduate and under-graduate diplomas; and certificates.
The education is disseminated in conventional, as well as emerging inter-disciplinary areas, such as consumer protection, disaster management, environment, human rights, tourism, women empowerment and child development, participatory forest management, participatory planning, resettlement and rehabilitation, teacher education, food and nutrition, continuing medical and health education, HIV/AIDs, laboratory techniques, and online learning.
One of the biggest contributions of the University has been making available to long-distance learners, courses which were hitherto exclusively limited to Face-to-Face classroom transactions. These include programmes in physical and natural sciences, nursing, health, engineering and technology, computers, library and information sciences and BEd degree, among others.
The University develops its academic programmes through 21 Schools of Study. A dedicated faculty, trained in distance education methodology, is responsible for planning, designing, developing and delivering academic programmes.
IGNOU involves a large number of senior teachers and experts from premier institutions in the country as 'content experts' for developing and delivering its course material.
The University has established a network of 43 Regional Centres (RCs), 6 Sub-Regional Centres and 1,400 Study Centres (SCs) all over the country to provide easy access and effective support services to the learners. These include Programme Study Centres (PSCs), as well as Special Study Centres for SC/STs, minorities, differently-abled learners, jail inmates, and personnel of different wings of Defence and Para-military services.
The University has also begun to focus on the educationally backward regions. New educational and training initiatives in the North-Eastern states and Sikkim are currently under way. These initiatives would lead to the creation of basic infrastructure in the region, using the latest in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for the region.
The University has also extended its outreach beyond the borders of the country. IGNOU has entered into bilateral and multilateral alliances with several countries, especially in Asia and Africa: Australia, United Kingdom, France, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Liberia.
IGNOU intends to establish collaboration and partnership with government agencies and other open universities through international organisations like UNESCO, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Wide Fund (WWF).
To promote international understanding, the University has a scheme of fellowships for academics and other staff working in the open universities of Asia under the Inter-University Staff Exchange Scheme. The University also hosts, supports and participates in national and international conferences to give impetus to research and academic activities of the faculty and staff.
The University has developed capabilities for training in distance education methodologies. It has successfully organised training workshops for the staff and faculty from within IGNOU, and a number of other institutions like State Open Universities (SOUs), Correspondence Course Institutes (CCIs), administrative staff of Government agencies, and overseas faculty. These have been conducted through the joint coordination of the Schools of Study, Staff Training and Research Institute of Distance Education (STRIDE) and the Distance Education Council (DEC), besides some national and international sponsoring agencies.
The academic programmes of the University have multi-media support. The University has facilities for audio, video, radio, television, interactive radio and video counselling, as well as tele-conferencing. IGNOU has also been identified as the nodal agency for running a 24-hour educational TV channel — Gyan Darshan — in collaboration with other institutions of higher learning. Gyan Vani is emerging as a huge cooperative network of FM radio stations, exclusively devoted to education.
Apart from teaching, research and training, exten