Saturday, March 9, 2013

IGNOUBLE University


I was indeed a serious student


When I turned 50, a desire which is not typically quinquagenarian sprouted in me.  I wanted to do Masters in psychology.  Actually I had started reading up a bit of psychology so that I could deal better with my young students in a world whose adolescence was beginning to baffle me increasingly.  As soon as I read in the newspaper that IGNOU was beginning correspondence course in MA-psychology, I joined up.  I thought a university course would give shape and direction to my newfound interest.

Three years after I joined the course, having completed all the written exams successfully, I remain unable and incapable of getting a certificate from the university.  IGNOU has harassed me so much with the assignments and other such out-of-the-exam-hall works that I have decided to say goodbye to the university without getting trying any further for its certificate.  After all, whatever knowledge I have acquired cannot be taken away by anyone.  And at this stage in my life another certificate won’t make much difference.

As I completed the first year of the course, I wrote in a blog about the unpleasant experiences I had with the assignments and the practical exam.  The professor who had checked my assignments was not even aware of the marking scheme.  

I completed the written exams in the minimum period of two years.  I also submitted my assignments on time.  Unless I had submitted them I wouldn’t have been permitted to sit for the exams in the first place.  More than a year after I had submitted them the university, IGNOU, has not entered those marks in my grade card.  My grade card implies that I have not submitted the assignments though I had already collected them back in due course with the marks and remarks written by the examiner.

I could have solved this problem quite easily by making a few trips to my study centre which is 25km from my residence.  But I’m not going to do it.  Because I won’t be able to submit the project paper, which means my course will remain incomplete technically.  The guide assigned to me by the study centre never got the time to guide me.  I have wasted enough time trying to meet the person and finalising my topic and the details.  I can’t bring myself to wait for hours outside the office of a professor who apparently finds it hard to spare time for students of IGNOU.  “Distance education should not have projects,” she told me once as if I had designed the curriculum.

I had given up the entire matter as hopeless.  I had forgotten it, in fact, until I saw a report in the newspaper yesterday.  “Former acting V-C of IGNOU booked,” says the headline (The Hindu, 8 March 2013).  It was followed up by another report in today’s newspaper, “Former acting V-C of IGNOU dismisses allegations.”  The reports are about certain corrupt practices that have allegedly taken place in the university.  I don’t know whether those allegations are true, but I know that IGNOU is terribly unprofessional in conducting the course which I ventured to undertake. 

I must add that I was one of the students in the very first batch of the psychology course.  Maybe, the university was still learning to conduct the course.  But, alas, I’m not young enough to put up with too many whims and caprices of pompous professors and dilettante clerics.   The degree doesn’t really matter to me.  But I wish the university does become a little more professional  for the sake of those students for whom the degree does matter.

I must add one more thing (though there’s much more that I can add!).  Much of the notes sent by the university are plagiarised material.  I came across entire passages copied from the books by other authors that I had gone through out of personal interest.  Later on I came across too many passages which were lifted verbatim from websites.  The most hilarious example: there’s a topic about professional ethics of a psychological counsellor.  The entire ethical code in the IGNOU notes is copied from the professional ethics of a construction company given in their website!  The code speaks about using the right mix of concrete, etc!  I’m not joking, dear reader.  I’m sure the professors could, at the very leas,t be a little more honest about their work. 

21 comments:

  1. Hilarious and painful at the same time... the sad state of affairs... What abt those for whom the fees was exorbitant and the time crucial? It's a shame that we don't take other people's time and effort seriously...
    Thanks fr bringing this to light for us...

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    1. Yes, this is actually a serious matter though I have written in a light vein. The university is very callous in its attitude toward students. I have come across many students who gave up the course after the first year. One student even remarked that the director of the course was "insane".

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    2. This is one reason why private colleges and foreign universities are doing better as they are managed well. People want simplicity and our entire govt system is complex as if every simple steps in any of the govt systems are made to torture you...you have experienced one. Sad...

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    3. Indeed, privatisation has its advantages. But why can't we run our govt institutions better? In fact, the staff are far better paid in such institutions? A govt college professor is one of the highest paid employees in the country.

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  2. You are right that the certificate carries not much value to you, any which way. You are wrong to imply that 25 km is an easy commute. No, I do not mean commuting in Delhi is that bad, which it could very well be, but is IGNOU only for residents of Delhi? I would tend to think not, because then it offers no true "Distance Education".

    About copying, less said the better. Do you know that I signed an agreement with a PSU for an assignment for the company which had the company committing to something not within the scope of services to be rendered? The said format was taken in full from the agreement formats of a different type of project. When I pointed this out, I was told that they were aware of this serious anomaly but rectifying it will take time. I must just look the other way. Desperate for the job, I did just that!

    Do you remember a few years ago an expert group copied verbatim a statement from a research output sponsored by a pharmaceutical company in its report that concluded that Indian patents are falling afoul of the nation's international commitments. What was shocking then, and even now, is the sponsoring company was involved in a dispute with the government and the Madras High Court had judged adverse to the company. Further, the chair of the expert panel withdrew his report and the whole thing has been brushed under the carpet. The "expert" is still enjoying the perks of the office he "enjoyed" (the word used most advisedly). None to question him. These are the "experts" we have!

    The above is not to discount what you experienced but only to show that this is common experience.

    RE

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    1. Thanks for sharing these facts and experiences, Raghuram. The fact is that IGNOU disappointed me terribly. But I have learnt to take disappointments in my stride with a smile. Isn't my life a series of disappointments? But I see it as a series of lessons :)

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  3. very sorry state of affairs, But this is not about IGNOU only, many correspondence courses are given step motherly treatment by even prestigious institutions. This is India, these institutions know that students are wise enough not to entangle themselves in legal rows.

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    1. A friend of mine called me up a couple of hours back to say the same thing: that many universities have this problem with distance education students. Profs take it for granted that distance learning students are not worthy of the degree!

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  4. To lift things off other sites and books - disgraceful. It is time these universities were forced to be accountable and not allowed to operate just to make money and give worthless degrees. The janlokpal seems more and mroe attractive.

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    1. It's a reflection of the present general trend: crass materialism and superficiality.

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  5. I had to endure same hardships in obtaining my MA degree (English) from the same university in 2004. I wrote around 100 letters regd post to various officials stating my submission of the assignment in time to the study centre. I have preserved all the receipts. The pune post master even gave me a proof of posting though after one year. i even wrote to the then HR minister Argun Singh . Again I wrote to the President Of india. At last as usual i visited the cafee with my number.I could not help believing . All assinment marks are reflected on my result. My joy know no bounds. I am thankful to the ignou for teaching me how take up challenges./perseverenceetc
    however NO ONE SHOULD JOIN THIS STUPID IGNOU


    THOMAS A. J

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    1. I understand your frustration. I don't even want to complete my course though I have passed every written exam simply because I don't want to meet the people connected with IGNOU anymore.

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  6. Ouch, this sounds like it's been pretty rough for you. I sympathize. I've had a couple of problems with another university. The vice-chancellor of that university was booked for harassment of women. So, pretty much the same picture everywhere, I guess?

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    1. The sad fact is that you won't find many educators anywhere today in the country. It's all just business. I was quite shocked by what I saw in IGNOU as well as at the study centre which belongs to another famous Univ in Delhi: it's not education that goes on there apparently.

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  7. Hi Tomichan

    I agree with you . I too am studying MA psychology at IGNOU. I was shocked at the quality of materials. I hate them. It is pathetic. With most of the material not having a beginning or an end!

    One thing... I am not sure material is palgarised... sure it is copy pasted, however due credit has been given! However this does not mean I condone it.

    Have you seen the panel that has overseen the material and edited it? It is whos who of the Indian education system. Infact it is scary!

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    1. Shaila, in the notes I had received nothing was acknowledged, most of it was just plagiarised (no other term for it). Maybe they've started being a little honest. I gave up pursuing the course after doing the entire lot of written exams! I detested them as much as that.

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  8. Nice info...blog continue Distance Education IGNOU offered Courses Master of Commerce, Master of Commerce in Business Policy and Corporate Governance, Master of Computer Applications, Master of Science Degree in Dietetics and Food Service Management, Master of Arts (Economics), MA (Distance Education), Master of Education

    IGNOU Distance Education

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  9. Thanks for publishing such a nice informational article. The learners will be able to know about the issues with the Open distance learning universities. The students who likes to go for distance learning programmes, they can apply for IGNOU Master Degree Programmes and Bachelor Degree programmes.

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  10. Nice Blog Continue....?

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    ReplyDelete