Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) and Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) hold entrance exams and/or interviews before selecting candidates for PhD and MPhil. But the UGC ban may not be applicable here because when it comes to PhD, there is nothing ‘open’ about the open universities.
Ignou officials said they do not offer this course through the distance education mode. P Sivaswaroop, regional director of Ignou said, “For PhD, the selected students have to go to New Delhi and attend the classes. The entire process is a face-to-face thing and students have to be physically present at the main campus for official interactions. The local study centres play no role for PhD course.” With this being the case, the Ignou PhD can be seen at par with that of traditional varsities.
A RTI query by a Nagpur citizen to UGC asking whether PhDs from Ignou and YCMOU are valid, came back with the reply that ‘distance’ mode is the only issue. The reply also said that as per current norms, no university can offer PhD or MPhil course through distance education mode. But with Ignou clearly saying that its PhD course is conducted at the main campus in New Delhi, the ‘distance’ controversy is laid to rest. The same RTI reply offered a web link to official notifications by UGC which further clarify that “any university” can offer PhD, which again includes Ignou and YCMOU.
YCMOU vice-chancellor E Vayunandan did not respond to TOI’s calls.
The local students’ flow towards open universities for PhD can be understood because of the shortage of guides at Nagpur university.
Madhusudhan Mude, a senior school principal told TOI that there’s a long wait. “I waited for five years and even then could not get my PhD process completed. Later I just shifted to a different university because there was more transparency. I feel Ignou is a really good option for students to pursue PhD,” he said.
Vandana Benjamin, a senior academician and doctoral degree holder said, “Students don’t have much of an option at NU and more lecturers must be appointed because current UGC guidelines allow a lecturer to guide eight students only at a time. So it is but natural that students are seeking out Ignou and other open universities to get a PhD degree.”