The Distance Education Council (DEC) of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has been broken up. The University Grants Commission has been handed all regulatory responsibilities of the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) education system by the Human Resource Development Ministry.
A UGC notification, dated May 28 clearly states "Pursuant to notification dated May 4 issued by the IGNOU, statute 28 of IGNOU Act 1985 dealing with the DEC has been repealed and deleted with immediate effect. Accordingly, DEC of IGNOU stands dissolved".
Appropriate regulations for maintaining standards in ODL programmes/courses are being created by the UGC which has also stated to the press that "In view of the above, wherever applicable, universities may kindly ensure that no further affiliations/approvals are granted to any new centre for ODL programmes/courses till such regulations are notified and come into force,".
The DEC was created under the IGNOU Act and was responsible for promotion and coordination of the open university and distance education system and determination of its standards in the country.
UGC officials have stated that "Shifting of DEC from IGNOU to UGC is a good move in the interest of open distance learning programme in the country. With ODL emerging as powerful and sought after mode of learning in today's age of globalisation, the empowered body like UGC could govern the affairs effectively,".
The UGC is the only grant-giving agency in the country which has two responsibilities — providing funds and of coordination along with determination and preservation of standards in institutions of higher education.
A letter to the Vice Chancellors of all universities by the UGC Secretary Akhilesh Gupta says “The HRD Ministry has entrusted all the regulatory responsibilities of the ODL education system in the country upon UGC. The UGC in the meantime, is working on development of appropriate regulations for maintaining standard in ODL programmes.”
Akhilesh Gupta has directed all universities to desists from granting further affiliation or approval to new centres for ODL programmes till ther new regulations come into force.
Former Vice Chancellor of University of Madras, SP Thyagarajan spoke to the press saying “The council is the regulatory body for the distance education programmes in the country. If one of the universities is going to be operating the council itself, there may not be uniform maintenance of standards. Ideally, an independent council should review every programme offered in all institutions.”