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Updated on 17 Dec, 2019

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) was established by an Act of Parliament in 1985, has emerged as a world leader in the field of open and distance learning in a short span of 27 years. The University, which is named after former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, has come a long way since.

It has kept pace in adapting itself to fast developments with time and was conferred the honour of ‘Centre of Excellence in Distance Education’ in 1993 by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). The honour of “Award of Excellence of Distance Education Materials” was conferred on IGNOU by COL in 1999. It has tried to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) by offering high quality teaching through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode.
Like the proverbial Prometheus, the acronym IGNOU has stirred the imagination of millions and given them hope to translate their dreams into reality. Everyone can study now; there is no limit to age, qualification, money and distance. The buzzwords are: Learn, earn and enjoy. IGNOU has been given the responsibility of widening equitable access to high quality education at an affordable cost to all, with particular emphasis on the disadvantaged and unreached hitherto, offering innovative and need-based programmes at different levels using contemporary tools and techniques and promoting, coordinating and regulating the standard of higher education offered through distance learning systems in the country.
The Headquarters of the University are located in New Delhi. Teaching, research, training and extension are the important academic activities of the University. The University began by offering two academic programmes in 1987, i.e., Diploma in Management and Diploma in Distance Education, with strength of 4,528 students and IGNOU in a span of 27 years has become a pioneer for open and distance learning in the country.  It meets the education demands of over 2.8 million students in India and 15 other countries through a network of 67 Regional Centres, around 2,981 learner support centres and 29 overseas centres and plans to expand its reach to six more nations in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The University offers about 228 academic programmes with strength of nearly 573 faculty members and academic staff at the Headquarters and regional Centres and about 50,000 academic counsellors from conventional professional organizations and industry among others.
IGNOU was bestowed the ‘Best Teaching Practices’ Award in January’2012 at the “India Today Education Summit”. Over the years, IGNOU has lived up to the country’s expectations of providing education to the marginalized 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 also been admitted to various programmes of the University.
On the context of quality of education offered by the ODL institutions, IGNOU has approached the task at two levels:  i) as an institution and ii) as a system-leader. 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.
It has given due emphasis to women, minority communities, socially and economically disadvantaged groups, the northeast region and other low literacy levels in the country.