Open and Distance Learning in India was introduced by Delhi University in 1962 through the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education to enable those, who had the inclination and aptitude to acquire further knowledge and improve their professional competence. Subsequently in 1968, Correspondence Courses were started by Punjabi University and University of Rajasthan. Meerut and Mysore University started these courses in 1969. In the eighties, the distance education system expanded further. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad was established in 1982 by the State of Andhra Pradesh. The setting up of Indira Gandhi National Open University by the Government of India in 1985 by an Act of the Parliament is considered to be a landmark development in the field of distance education in the Country.
The Distance Education Council (DEC) was established in 1991 under Section 16(7) read with Section 5(2) of the IGNOU Act, 1985. As per clause (2) (a) of the statute 28, the DEC was responsible for the promotion and coordination of the Open and Distance Learning system in the Country. In May, 2007 a Joint Committee was formed by signing a MoU between UGC, AICTE and DEC for the period of three years till May, 2010. The Joint Committee developed guidelines in the form of ‘Recognition of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Institutions’ Handbook 2009. Thereafter, in pursuance of the directions issued by the Ministry of Education, the Department of Higher Education, Government of India issued order dated 29.12.2012, thereby the regulatory functions with regard to Distance Education programmes (excluding technical education) in higher education were vested with the University Grants Commission and for technical education, the AICTE act as a regulator through ODL mode. The Distance Education Council, which was the erstwhile regulator of Distance Education programmes, was dissolved and all regulatory functions were undertaken by the UGC under DEB (Distance Education Bureau) with effect from 2013. The Ministry of Education vide its order dated 25th February, 2014, has directed UGC to act as a regulator for higher education system in ODL mode, including for technical education in universities/affiliated colleges.