Govt. puts IGNOU out of the ambit of UGC regulations

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The government has exempted the IGNOU from the University Grants Commission's (UGC) open and distance learning regulations, ending a protracted turf war between the higher education regulator and the country's first national open university.

The commission has amended it's 2017 regulations to keep Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) out of its ambit as “a special case”, months after the higher education regulator agreed for it, seeking the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry to issue “a direction” in this regard.

The revised UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017 has been notified in an official gazette with effect from June 6.

This is the fourth amendment in the open and distance learning regulations of the UGC since it was first notified on June 23, 2017.

The UGC and IGNOU have been at the loggerheads over each other's powers and jurisdictions for last several years, leading to confusion among the students and other stakeholders over the validity of some of its professional programmes.

Framing of tough regulations by the UGC for open and distance learning programmes in 2017 and subsequent amendments in it further added to the ongoing tussle between the higher education regulator and the national open university.

The UGC and the IGNOU were recently involved in a turf war over the mandatory requirement to seek approval of the respective regulators, including All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for offering professional courses such as MBA and MCA in the open distance and learning mode.

In 2016, the board of management (BoM) of the national open university had decided to resume offering M Phil and PhD programmes from the academic session of 2017-18, despite the UGC banning the offering of such programmes by higher education institutions in its regulations.

The IGNOU had stopped PhD courses in 2014 following a UGC directive that sought all 15 open universities in the country to stop research programmes in distance mode.

Since then, the IGNOU had been demanding amendments in the UGC regulations.

The national open university was set up in 1985 by an Act of Parliament.

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