UGC may exempt IGNOU from tough norms

UGC may exempt IGNOU from tough norms

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has agreed to free Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) from its regulations for higher education institutions offering open and distance learning programmes in various streams.

The higher education regulator has requested the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to issue “a direction” to keep the national open university outside the ambit of the UGC (open and distance learning) Regulations, 2017 as “a special case.”

The commission agreed to exempt IGNOU from its distance education regulations at its recent meeting, noting that it has been contributing “in various areas of national importance and relevance” by providing “quality” distance education with an outreach across the country.

The higher education regulator's decision assumes significance as the UGC and the IGNOU has been at the loggerheads over each others' powers and jurisdictions for past few years, leading to confusion among the students and other stakeholders over the validity of some of its professional programmes.

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

The UGC and the IGNOU were on a turf war recently over 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-learning mode.

The board of management (BoM) of the national open university in 2016 decided to resume offering M Phil and PhD programmes from the academic session of 2017-18 despite the UGC had banned offering of such programmes by higher education institutions coming up with a revised 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 for amendments in the UGC regulations to enable it offer the two programmes in distance mode.

The IGNOU had obtained approval of the Indian Nursing Council for offering post-basic BSc-Nursing programme for in-service nurses. But, the UGC (open and distance learning) Regulations, 2017 prohibits offering of degree Nursing programme at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

“Considering all the factors, the commission suggested that HRD ministry should be requested to issue a direction thereby keeping the IGNOU outside the ambit of the UGC (open and distance learning) Regulations, 2017,” an official said.