India Gandhi National Open University (Hindi: इंदिरा गाँधी राष्ट्रीय मुक्त विश्वविद्यालय) , popularly known as IGNOU, has become synonymous with the term “Distance Education”. Named after the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, this university has the credit for setting up standards in Distance Education in India and making it possible for even the students of the remotest part in India. The university is headquartered in IGNOU road, Maidan Garhi, New Delhi.
It was in the year 1985 when IGNOU came into existence with a paltry budget of 2000 crore, after Indira Gandhi National Open University Act, 1985, also known as IGNOU Act, 1985, was passed by the Parliament. The very purpose of starting IGNOU was to impart education through distance mode, provide education opportunity to the unprivileged segments(because of remoteness, resource or time crunch) and provide impetus to the human resources of India.
IGNOU has set up five zones, namely, north, south, east, west and north east. The division of zones has helped the university in decentralization. One of its regional headquarters, located in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala is ably catering to the educational needs of the students of four southern states, viz., Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep.
Today, IGNOU has got the privilege to host the Secretariats of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, popularly known as SAARC on Open and Distance Learning(ODL), initially guided and Supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO). Recently, the Ministry of HRD has entrusted IGNOU with the responsibility of developing Draft Policy on
Open and Distance Learning and Online Courses.
The university funds and encourages its faculty in global conferences, seminars and it does also organize several international conferences. Today, IGNOU offers its academic programmes around the globe through its Partnership Package. Since its inception, the popularity and indispensableness of IGNOU has increased leaps and bounds and today with more than 4 million students it has become the largest university of the world.
IGNOU is among world’s few universities that provide copyright to several foreign institutes to use its study materials and adapt its way of imparting education to the marginalized section of the society. True to its stature, credibility quotient, it is now known as university among universities.