The current era is of knowledge economy, wherein the most vital constituent of growth is ‘higher education.’ If we want to be active growth contributors in this era, we must increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) to make it at least two times than the present. This fact is endorsed by several thoughtful individuals, commissions and policy planners. The National Knowledge Commission has come up with precious documents that outline the vital role of higher education. Here, the role played by the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system is important and unparalleled. It is evident from many instances across the world that the ODL system is very effective to educationally empower numerous parts of society that due to some potent reason could not undergo formal ‘face-to-face’ education. In the current education scenario, there are several technical, professional and vocational courses, which include special programs that are directed towards the usage of the higher end of technology. Distance education makes it feasible to spread education to reach the excluded, marginalised and unreached sections of society that live in difficult terrain and faraway places. On 31st October 2005, the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly passed Act No. 23 of 2005 as per which the Uttarakhand Open University (UOU) was established on the principles of the ODL system. Its goal is to use distance learning to spread knowledge and skills wherein the modern, innovative and flexible modes of education will assure individuals of ‘independent learning.’
UOU increases the effectiveness of distance learning through the usage of different modes of communication technology and contact sessions and new educational programs. The prime intention of UOU is to look after the educational requirements of the target sections of the society for the development of knowledge-based and skilled human resource, which would eventually lead to quick development and upliftment of Uttarakhand. It wants to assure good-quality education coupled with high academic standards. To meet these aims, it has executed a radical reorientation in itself to be abreast with the speedy alterations in the realms of technical and professional education. With this concept in mind, it has developed many novel and innovative employment-oriented and self-employment-oriented study programs. The special focus of UOU is on the educational requirements of females, marginalised sections and tribal people. In this endeavour, it has been successful in reaching the most distant and difficult locations in the state, and now, the remotest places in Uttarakhand have the presence of UOU. There are Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between UOU and several providers that are signed to share knowledge and resources for the benefit of the masses. The university has a wide vision of implementing high-quality higher education to render the most-critical parts of growth to the people in the state.
UOU has more than 90 study centres to implement its programs. These study centres are at different locations in the state and are governed by eight regional centres, namely, Pithoragarh, Haldwani, Bageshwar, Ranikhet, Uttarkashi, Pauri, Roorkee and Dehradun. UOU has MoUs with a large number of leading professional bodies, companies and research institutions, which are aimed at providing many benefits to its students.