Ignou gets a VC, to focus on quality

New Delhi: The Indira Gandhi National Open University, the higher-education institution with the largest number of students in the country, has got a permanent vice-chancellor after more than three years of administrative ad-hocism.

President Ram Nath Kovind has approved academic Nageshwar Rao's appointment to the post. Rao had earlier served as pro-VC and "in-charge VC" at the university, which imparts distance education to more than three million students.

His appointment, for five years, comes at a time students of distance learning are struggling to land industry jobs after finishing their courses. The human resource development ministry regularly receives complaints about the industry's poor perception of degrees earned in the distance mode.

Rao told The Telegraph that after assuming office next week, he would focus on the quality of distance education and the correction of industry's perception.

The University Grants Commission has set up a committee under Rao to suggest the criteria for the accreditation of distance-learning institutions.

Fourteen universities including Ignou offer courses only in the distance mode while another 200 offer distance learning along with regular courses.

No criteria have so far been set for the accreditation of distance-learning institutions. "Quality can be addressed if all the distance-learning institutions are accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council," Rao said.

"Our committee will submit accreditation criteria soon. By the end of this year, the accreditation of distance-learning institutions can be started. Once accredited, the perception about distance courses will improve."

In November 2014, the human resource development ministry had asked the then vice-chancellor, M. Aslam, to proceed on leave pending an inquiry against him on charges of certain irregularities.

Although Aslam remained the VC on paper, he was never allowed to rejoin. The institution was managed by "in-charge VCs". Aslam's tenure ended in July last year.

A search committee headed by academic Sanjay Dhande had suggested a panel of candidates for the post of Ignou vice-chancellor, from which Rao was selected.


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