The Indira Gandhi National Open University with over 30 lakh students is the Largest University in the World. It is a national university of INDIA with its headquarters in New Delhi, Delhi, India. Named after former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, the university was established in 1985 after the Parliament of India passed the Indira Gandhi National Open University Act, 1985 (IGNOU Act 1985). IGNOU was established with a budget of
2000 crore. Since its establishment in 1985, IGNOU has contributed significantly to the development of higher education in the country through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. IGNOU was founded to impart education by means of distance and open education. Its main aim is to provide higher education opportunities particularly to the disadvantaged segments of society and to encourage, coordinate and set standards for distance and open education in India. It also help in strengthening the human resources of India through education.
The University, at present, offers 338 programmes of study through over 3,500 courses to a cumulative student strength of over 30 lakh students in India and 40 other countries like Seychelles, UK, Kuwait, Oman, Ethiopia, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Mauritius, Maldives, Namibia, Kenya, Myanmar. The programmes are offered by the University at the following levels: doctorate; masters and bachelors degree programmes; post-graduate and under-graduate diplomas; and certificates.IGNOU has a network of 29 overseas centres in 15 countries, 2667 study centres and 67 regional centers in India with 21 schools. Around 20% of students getting higher education in India are enrolled with IGNOU. The academic programmes of the University have multi-media support. The University has facilities for audio, video, radio, television, interactive radio and video counselling, as well as tele-conferencing. IGNOU has also been identified as the nodal agency for running a 24-hour educational TV channel — Gyan Darshan — in collaboration with other institutions of higher learning. Gyan Vani is emerging as a huge cooperative network of FM radio stations, exclusively devoted to education. Vide a notification dated 6 october 2008, The research unit has also been established at the IGNOU. The main objective of the unit is to register and monitor all full-time and part-time MPhil and PhD candidates and to facilitate systemic/discipline based research in the University. Secretariats of the SAARC Consortium on Open and Distance Learning (SACODiL) and the Global Mega Universities Network (GMUNET) also works from IGNOU.
By setting up five zones in north, south, east, west and north east india, IGNOU has started a decentralization process. Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala is the first of the regional headquarters in four southern indian states of Pondicherry, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep.