Four Things You Missed... if You Missed Ramanujam's xTalk on Indira Gandhi National Open University

Dr P. R. Ramanujam
November 23
Taylor Rose, MIT '16

In his Nov 13 xTalk, Dr. P. R. Ramanujam outlined the impressive growth of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the benefits it offers to the people of India. IGNOU is the world’s largest university, with over 4 million students, and a presence in 45 countries. Here’s what you missed in this xTalk…

IGNOU is: 

  • constantly experimenting. The university’s first “customers” included learners who had not been covered by the face-to-face education system in India as well as members of the national army, navy, and air force looking for a way to receive an education while remaining in the service. In the thirty years since its inception, IGNOU has evolved to offer certificates, diplomas, and degrees up to PhD levels. Through looking internally and recognizing new needs and gaps to fill, IGNOU has evolved a strongly innovative culture.
  • using a distributed structure. Partnering with existing institutions, IGNOU is able to extend its reach regionally throughout India. Students often begin degree programs at the local institution and then finish the later years of their study through IGNOU, often learning at a distance, online, and/or in special dedicated cohorts at the regional facility. 
  • working to maintain high standards. There is a significant challenge to maintaining education standards with a diverse and unequally prepared student body. However, IGNOU prioritizes high standards in order to ensure they are providing the best education possible to their students. Special assistance is available to students experiencing difficulties and tutoring is actively encouraged.
  • fostering the democratization of higher education. IGNOU is opening knowledge and skills to millions of people who would otherwise be unable to access it. Because the university is able to provide scholarships, higher education is possible for students from lower socio-economic brackets.


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