Indira Gandhi National Open University known as IGNOU, is a distance learning national university located in Maidan Garhi, New Delhi, India. Named after former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, the university was established in 1985 with a budget of ?20 million, after the Parliament of India passed the Indira Gandhi National Open University Act, 1985 (IGNOU Act 1985). IGNOU is run by the central government of India, and with total active enrollment of over 4 million students, claims to be the largest university in the world.
IGNOU was founded to serve the Indian population by means of distance and open education, providing higher education opportunities particularly to the disadvantaged segments of society. It also aims to encourage, coordinate and set standards for distance and open education in India, and to strengthen the human resources of India through education. Apart from teaching and research, extension and training form the mainstay of its academic activities. It also acts as a national resource centre, and serves to promote and maintain standards of distance education in India. IGNOU hosts the Secretariats of the SAARC Consortium on Open and Distance Learning (SACODiL) and the Global Mega Universities Network (GMUNET), initially supported by UNESCO.
IGNOU has started a decentralisation process by setting up five zones; north, south, east, west and north east. The first of the regional headquarters, catering to four southern states, Pondicherry, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep, is being set up in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. The Ministry of HRD has entrusted the responsibility of developing Draft Policy on Open and Distance Learning and Online Courses to IGNOU.