Indira Gandhi National Open University was established by an Act of Parliament in 1985 to democratise higher education. The main objectives are listed below:
- Democratising higher education by taking it to the doorsteps of the learners;
- Impart education and knowledge through various means suited to the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Mode;
- Offering need-based academic programmes at affordable cost in emerging professional and vocational areas;
- Encourage, co-ordinate and assist Open Universities and Distance Education Systems while determining standards in such systems in the country;
- Provide national integration and strengthen the natural and human resources of the country through the medium of education.
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is also the apex body for Open Universities and distance education institutions in the country. It is envisaged to be an instrument for democratising and augmenting opportunities for higher education, widening access and promoting a flexible and cost-effective system of imparting knowledge. The University offers about 445 specially need-based academic, professional, vocational, awareness generating and skill-oriented programmes, diplomas and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral) with a strength of nearly 420 faculty members and academic staff at the headquarter and regional centres and about 36000 academic counselors from conventional institutions of higher learning, professional organizations, and industry; and has a network of 68 Regional Centers and 3200 learner support centres to support academic counselling of students. Besides national network coverage, some of the programmes are offered in 67 other overseas centers especially in Asia and Africa. Multi-Media learning through self-instructional illustrated print materials, audio cassettes, video programmes, phone-in radio counselling and teleconferencing form the package of delivery for distance education. IGNOU is the nodal point for Gyan Darshan, the educational TV channel, Gyan Vani, FM Radio Stations and the EDUSAT, a dedicated satellite for education.