The Indira Gandhi National Open University has extended its outreach beyond the borders of the country. The globalization of higher education, particularly through the distance mode of delivery, has given an altogether different perspective to the cross border delivery of IGNOU’s academic programmes in various countries. The International Division looks after the international operations of the University .The Division was established on 16th October 1997 as a Cell and was upgraded to the staus of a full-fledged Division in 2002. From 1996 onwards the International Division has been assigned the task of offering and promoting the academic programmes of IGNOU by establishing bilateral and multi-lateral co-operations with various partner institutions and organizations/universities across the globe. Its mandate is to promote bilateral and multilateral collaborations, network with International educational institutions/ inter-governmental agencies; to serve as a single window system for the University’s overseas operations, to provide capacity-building through training; and to coordinate the international delegations and visits to the University. To meet its objectives, this Division has adopted a fourfold approach in expanding the international Division of IGNOU: collaboration, coordination, cooperation and competition.
At present, IGNOU is offering academic programmes in 35 countries across the globe through 62 Partner Institutions.
These Partner Institutions (PIs) have built bridges of collaborations and enabled creating an integrating mechanism of sustained and synergized environment of healthy competition and coordination. Supported by ICT, Partner Institutions work like a well networked grid and have helped in the creation of an environment of mutual trust and sharing of human and educational resources, complementing the democratic process of a richer understanding of good governance and social coordination. Last but not the least it is the effort of the Partner Institutions that has immensely help the learners to receive application-oriented courses and enhance their employability.
The main objectives of the Division are:
- Promotion of IGNOU Programmes outside India.
- Establishment of bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation and exchanges.
- Offering IGNOU course material to foreign institutions/universities.
- Coordinating the training programmes for the personnel of Open Universities/Institutes outside India.
- Consultancies to newly established/ needy universities/ institutions outside India.
- Coordination of International programmes with the regional and international agencies.
- Providing pedagogical and technological support to Partner Institutions.
The Open and Distance system has attracted the overseas learners by its unique features such as relaxed entry schedule, flexibility of time and space, its cost effective quality education, need-based professional courses and contextualized curriculum. The success of this mandated task can be corroborated with the fact that the cumulative gross enrolment is more than 35,848-the largest among all Indian Universities, which is likely to increase further with the integration of ICT and more effective learner support services
Currently IGNOU's Academic Programs are on offer in the U.A.E (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah& Ras Al Khaimah) Qatar, Kuwait, kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom of Bahrain and Sultanate of Oman among the Gulf countries; Mauritius, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Seychelles among the Island nations; Ethiopia, Kenya and Ivory coast in Africa, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri lanka among the SAARC countries, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan in the Central Asian countries. IGNOU’s self instructional course materials are sought after by the Open Universities abroad for adoption or adaptation and used as text materials for their own students. IGNOU has previously licensed its course materials to the Open Universities at Hong Kong, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Besides, IGNOU offers comprehensive training in Open Learning system and Distance Education methodologies to the Open University personnel in the overseas.