There is uncertainty over the future of the distance learning courses run by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a large number of these courses, including popular ones, are likely to be derecognised since they have failed to meet the standards set by the new Open and Distance Learning Regulations which were released last year.

While there are 114 universities across the country which offer courses in distance mode, IGNOU is by far the largest of them. So far, courses of 53 universities, including IGNOU, primarily from humanities, have been approved by the Distance Education Bureau of the University Grants Commission (UGC). Eighty per cent of the students enrolled in distance learning courses are from IGNOU. Only 42 courses of IGNOU have been recognised by UGC.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Computer Application (MCA), which are popular among students of IGNOU, have not been approved by the UGC.

Around 32 lakh students are enrolled in IGNOU at the moment and many face the risk of the courses that they are pursuing being derecognised. Also, a degree that has already been earned in a course which has been derecognised by UGC will also be considered invalid.

All the universities offering distance learning were supposed to apply for recognition with the UGC after the release of the ODL regulations. The regulations specify that any university which fails to qualify will have to discontinue the distance learning course with immediate effect.

The Distance Education Bureau of UGC, which approves the courses in distance mode, has been reevaluating the courses offered by these universities and released a list of courses which it has approved on 9 August.

It has, however, been clarified by the Commission that the other courses have not yet been derecognised but the universities will have to re-apply to get recognition.

The IGNOU vice-chancellor has pleaded that the ODL regulations should be relaxed as they are too stringent. The VC is meeting officials in the HRD ministry to urge them to consider that the courses be approved. According to sources, the VC has also met the UGC chairman.

Ministry officials said universities including IGNOU were given sufficient time to rectify all the deficiencies. The regulations were released on 23 June last year.