Open Letter - August 2010

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Open Letter - August 2010



    IGNOU is heading for a paradigm shift in its research policy and research facilitationprocesses in the context of the global scenario of full-time research, part-time researchand systemic research under the open university and distance education systems.IGNOU has contributed significantly to educational technology, systemic research in ODL,learning management systems, satellite education, and ICT-enabled teaching and learning.The technologies developed by IGNOU are in use the world over by ODL institutions. TheIGNOU Act mandates research at all levels and the Research Council has been created asan Authority of IGNOU under Section 16 of the Act. Ordinances for research degrees likeM.Phil and Ph.D. are also in place. The University has a research project scheme. Paidresearch study leave, in addition to the sabbatical leave scheme, are available to teachersand academics. Participation in national and international research conferences isfacilitated by travel grants. Research schemes from funding agencies are systematicallyavailed by faculty. A new scheme, the first of its kind in the country the Research andTeaching Assistantship (RTA) was introduced two years ago where full-time research ina domain area, along with development of teaching modules and teaching assistanceactivities, are taken up by young researchers under the supervision of a senior faculty

    member. About 800 teachers and academics with Ph.D. andhigher-level research qualifications are working in the University.An exclusive Research Unit was created in the Universityrecently to coordinate all these research activities.

    Research programmes of Open Universities are recognisedthroughout the world. The UK Open University, for example,supports a broad and vibrant research and enterprise portfolioand fosters research teams able to compete with the best inthe world. Over 1,000 research students are currently workingwith the British Open University, in addition to several hundredsaround the globe linked to UKOU through its Affiliated ResearchCentre (ARC) Programme. ARCs are organisations with which

    UKOU has entered into agreements to register students. They are higher educationinstitutions or commercial or public sector research organisations with state-of-the-artinfrastructural facilities and a large pool of highly qualified research scientists. Some ofthese are: the UK Architectural Association, the School of Architecture, the BritishAntarctic Survey, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Defence Science TechnologiesLaboratories, the Institute of Pharmacological Research, and the International Centre forGenetic Engineering and Biotechnology. ARCs are in addition to UKOUs own researchlaboratories/centres in the various faculties at its main Walton Hall Campus in MiltonKeynes. The results of UKs latest Research Assessment Exercise placed UKOU in the top50 higher education institutions, according to the Times Higher Education Table ofExcellence. More than 50 percent of the UKOUs research is rated internationallyexcellent and 14 percent is rated as world leading. Other leading Open Universitiesalso have very strong research programmes.

    IGNOU, with its 800-strong research-trained faculty, over 100 full-time RTAs and morethan 400 registered Ph.D. scholars, has great research potential. Collaboration andnetworking with various national and international research institutes is the key toaccomplishing research goals. Training an optimum number of post-graduates in subject-specific domain areas and giving them opportunity for full-time research leading to Ph.D.degrees and post-doctoral awards need to be a focussed activity of this large talent poolof academics.

    The collaboration of IGNOU with the Harichandra Institute of Mathematics (under theDepartment of Atomic Energy), Indian Institute of Astrophysics (Department of S&T),Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology, Institute of Biotechnology and Bio-informatics, International Institute of Informational Technology, Madras Institute ofDevelopmental Studies, and the Indian Institute of Economic Growth, for post-graduateeducation and research is in line with the global trends of open universities strengtheningresearch by effective utilisation of infrastructural facilities and intellectual capabilities.The Ph.D. programme of IGNOU follows international norms of quality and standards.Successful completion of course work, publication of at least one original researchpublication in a peer-reviewed journal, pre-registration and pre-submission seminars bycandidates and open defence of the thesis are now mandatory for the award of Ph.D.degrees.

    Considering the global trend of research in open universities, it is imperative that ouropen universities and distance education institutes develop a clear Code of Good Practicein respect of the management, quality and academic standards of research programmes.Peer review, publication in refereed journals, analysis of impact factor of original researchpublications all these should be in such a code. This issue of OpenLetter features therecent research initiatives of IGNOU.



    Research in Action

    Pan-Commonwealth Forum

    INFOCUS: IGNOUsResearch andTeaching Assistantship (RTA) is a unique schemeto help the countrymeet its high-endresearch targets

    BEST B-SCHOOLS......03


    NEWS UPDATES..........12


    MILESTONES ..............16

    GYAN DARSHAN..........16

    8 SPOTLIGHT: IGNOU will host the Sixth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on OpenLearning in Kochi in November with anaim to open up access to learning atevery level via ODL system

    IGNOU OPEN LETTER is Printed by Printek Grafix, 148-D, Pocket-F, GTB Enclave, Delhi-110093 and

    Published by Ravi Mohan, Chief Public Relations Officer, Indira Gandhi National Open University,

    Maidan Garhi. New Delhi 110068.Ph: +91-11-29571000 (30 lines); +91-11-29535924-29

    Fax: +91-11-29535933; E-mail:

    Managing Editor: Ravi MohanPhotos: Rajesh Sharma/Amlan Paliwal

    Advisory Council:Prof P.R. Ramanujam,

    Dr Latha Pillai

    Design and Production: IANS Publishing

    FROMthe vice chancellor

    V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai



    Renowned Kannada writer and criticDr U.R. Ananthamurthy has beenappointed the Honorary Chair ofTagore Chair in Indian Literature atIGNOU. The Tagore Chair, located in the School of Humanities, has beenestablished to organise symposia,seminars and undertake research studieson Indian literature.

    The activities of the Chair include theediting of a bilingual (English and Hindi)Journal on Literature, Language andCulture Studies.

    I feel deeply honoured and excited. TheTagore Chair will give me an opportunity todo a lot of meaningful work in the area ofIndian languages and literature. Throughthe new responsibility, I want to worktowards Rabindranath Tagores vision of empowering Indian languages, especially regional languages, said DrAnanthamurthy, who is known in India forhis social commitment and as animportant representative of the Navyamovement (the new movement) inKannada literature.

    Born in 1932 in Melige village inKarnataka, Dr Ananthamurthy startedhis education in a traditional Sanskritschool in Doorvasapura and laterstudied English and ComparativeLiterature in the cities of Mysore (India)and Birmingham (England).

    He was a professor of English

    Literature for several years at MysoreUniversity, later Vice Chancellor of theMahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam,Chairman of the National Book Trust andPresident of the Sahitya Akademi inDelhi. At present, he is serving as thesecond-time chairman of the Film andTelevision Institute of India (FTII), Pune.

    Dr Ananthamurthy began his literarycareer in 1955 with the story volumeEndendhigu Mugiyada Kathe. Sincethen, he has published five novels, oneplay, six short story volumes, four

    poetry volumes (including translation ofTao, Yeats and Rilke and Brecht) and 10essay volumes in Kannada and severalpieces on English literature.

    His works have been translated intoseveral Indian and European languages andhave been awarded with significant literaryprizes, including the Jnanpeeth Award(1994). He was honoured by theGovernment of India with the PadmaBhushan in 1998. His most significantworks include Samskara, Bhava, BharathiPura and Avasthe.

    Dr Ananthamurthy appointed Tagore Chair

    In OpenLetter July issue, we carried astory on Careers in Management and how IGNOU's managementprogrammes are providing managerialskills not only to the top-end MBAstudents via Face-to-Face mode but alsoto learners via Open and DistanceLearning (ODL) System.

    Now the fact is being acknowledgedby the world. In an annual survey byBusinessworld, a reputed businessweekly, IGNOU has become the only OpenUniversity to be part of the prestigiousIndias Best B-Schools list a listing ofthe countrys crme de la crme in the

    field of management education. Theworlds largest University came 40th inthe overall ranking in the survey ofIndias best 50 business schools.

    The University offers a slew ofProgrammes in management andcommerce streams through School of Management Studies (SOMS) in the ODL mode. Some of the programmesare Master of Business Administration(MBA); Master of BusinessAdministration (Banking & Finance);Master of Commerce in Finance &Taxation (MCom, F&T) and PG Diplomain International Business Operation.

    IGNOU enters Indias Best B-Schools listing

    Renowned writer Dr U.R. Ananthamurthy.

    Prof Anurag Saxena, SOMS, with Dr Silima

    Nanda, Director (I/c), International Division,

    during an interactive session with MBA

    learners of Pan-Africa e-Network.

    Eminent Malayalam writer

    K. Satchidanandan has

    taken over as Director,

    School of Translation

    Studies and Training

    (SOTST) at IGNOU.

    Satchidanandan was one

    of the pioneers of modern

    poetry in Malayalam and is

    well known for the subtle

    and nuanced articulations

    of socio-political contexts

    in his poetry. He has 22 collections of

    poetry, 16 collections of translations of

    poetry and 19 collections of essays on

    literature, language and society to

    his credit.

    Satchidanandanis SOTST Director

    K. Satchidanandan



    Research in ActionSandhya Chopra, 26, is pursuingPh.D. in Public Administrationunder the School of SocialSciences (SOSS). Her core area ofresearch is Disaster Management. ThroughGyan Darshan and Gyan Vani, she hasparticipated in several tele-conferenceswhere she has communicated directly withlearners across the country on how toprevent or mitigate disasters like floods,earthquakes and forest fires.

    IGNOU has provided students a wideplatform to establish themselves in dualrole of a researcher and a teacher while pursuing higher education. As aResearch and Teaching Assistant (RTA),Im not only involved with full-timeresearch but also spend a considerable

    time teaching on the campus it is likebeing part of a holistic and comprehensivehigher education stream in an ODLsystem, says Chopra, before rushing toattend a practical demonstration on firesafety management on the campus.

    Road to Academic Excellence

    Assisting faculty, revising the courseware,proofreading the course work, publishingresearch papers, giving presentations,attending seminars and conferences... thelist is endless, but what you get at the endof the day is purely rewarding in terms ofacademic excellence. This is what over400 RTAs enrolled in discipline-basedresearch at IGNOU aim at.

    IGNOUs Researchand Teaching Assistantship(RTA) is a uniquescheme to help the country meetits high-end research targets

    THE TEAM: Dr V. Venugopal Reddy (centre), Director, Research Unit, with his team at the Convention Centre, IGNOU Headquarters.

  • On campus, 98RTAs are enrolled in full-time Ph.D.Programmes; out ofthem, 91 learnershave earnedfellowships. Thereare 36 M.Philstudents, while 278are part-time Ph.D.students.

    While higher educationestablishments andgovernment focuson Ph.D.programmes, thereis also greatconcern andapprehension aboutthe poor quality of

    M.Phil and Ph.D. programmes offered inlarge numbers by some institutions, whichmisuse the autonomy and concept ofdistance education, says Vice ChancellorProfessor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai.

    Strict enforcement of quality criteria,following international benchmarks inresearch, is the only way to curb theseundesirable practices. Quality research ofhigh impact happening in renowned openuniversity and distance education systems

    should be supported and encouraged toset national benchmarks in this area.Achieving high levels of researchperformance in discipline-based researchis the target of IGNOU in this Decade ofInnovation, adds Prof Pillai.

    The RTA Scheme is for highlymeritorious full-time postgraduates. TheUniversity follows a rigorous selectionprocess. Once the initial screening is doneby the faculty of the Discipline, eligiblecandidates are invited for Ph.D. proposalpresentations (Category A), entrance testand personal interview (Category B).However, qualified UGC/CSIR candidatesare exempted from writing the entrancetest, informs Dr V. Venugopal Reddy,Director, Research Unit.

    Based on the qualifications, experienceand research proposal, the applications areshortlisted by the Discipline. The selectedcandidates are then called for an interviewwith the Doctoral Committee of Discipline,which recommends whether the candidateshould undertake the course work or not.

    All selected candidates are placedbefore the School Board allotting Ph.D. topics. The Board approves researchsupervisors specifying categories (A or B)subsequently before the Research Council.

    Many open universities in the world, like


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