On September 24, 2015, Ignou signed a collaboration with the Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), seemingly restarting its controversial face-to-face programme, the closure of which had affected thousands of its students in 2012.
Under the new arrangement with FDDI for what’s being called a ‘blended mode programme,’ Ignou will prepare academic material for different degree courses for FDDI, which in turn will impart technical training for the courses. Interestingly, Ignou had collaborated with FDDI to grant degrees in 2010 under a face-to face-programme but had snapped ties with it, calling the tie-up illegal.
The FDDI website says that the collaboration has been signed under Section 5 (1)(i,ii,vii,xi,xiii & xxi) of the Ignou Act, but experts say that these sub-sections under section 5 can’t be operationalised because Ignou has not made any statute or ordinance to enjoy the authority given under these sub-sections. That’s also the reason why Ignou’s face-to-face programme had generated a controversy earlier. Many institutes in 2012-13 had approached the Delhi High Court (HC) against Ignou’s decision to close its face-to-face programme and had argued that Ignou could run or recognise courses in collaboration with other institutes and grant degrees on their behalf.
The HC in 2013, however, had held that, “It would be difficult to dispute that the university had no legal authority to enter into any agreement/MoU/ arrangement, to set up study centres/ institutions/ colleges, for imparting education by way of a face-to-face programme, where the students are required to attend regular classes and are taught in person, nor can the university of its own impart education by way of such a classroom progamme. ”
The face-to-face programme in 2006 was approved by Ignou’s Board of Management (BOM) under the Ignou Act. Later, in 2012 its closure too was approved by BOM, which called it illegal under the same Act. However, now BOM has once again approved a similar programme.
While both Ignou and FDDI refused to comment, many experts have expressed surprise at this recent collaboration. They feel that Ignou should have maintained extreme caution.
“There are many sections in the Ignou Act which empower it to do many things. However, as long as these sections are not supported by statues, the university can’t act under different assumptions and presumptions. Also, Ignou now comes under UGC so it should have taken their approval to start such courses,” says a senior faculty member from Ignou.