Patrick: IPP prisoner questions loans

Patrick, one of PET's beneficiaries and a Learner Voice panel member, expresses his concern about the impact of student loans for his peers. He writes:

"As a long serving IPP prisoner I don’t have a release date to aim for so I need other goals to aim for and keep me going year after year in prison. These goals are education. I have completed over 35 prison education and distance learning courses in prison. Some of these courses have been mentally stimulating with excellent teachers while other courses have been appallingly bad with very poor teachers.

If  I didn’t have education goals to aim for in prison I would waste away, become brain dead and each day would become meaningless with no purpose. Education gives my days meaning and when studying I can temporarily forget I am in prison.

I obtained PET funding to start studying an Open University degree in business and I am one of the lucky ones who doesn’t pay fees as I started my degree before the deadline in 2012. Any prisoners who wants to study a degree now has to take out a student loan. How many prisoners will want to leave prison with a debt of thousands of pounds hanging over them when they leave prison? Once the existing Open University degree students in prison finish their free degrees there is likely to be only a handful of prisoners willing to pay for their degree. Open University degrees will almost die out in prison unless grants/sponsorship are available to prisoners.

Education plays a big part in rehabilitation, self-esteem and future career prospects for prisoners. Over the years I have seen prison budget cuts slash education to the bone. It will not be long before the only education available to prisoners is maths, English and IT. 

Any prisoners wanting to do more will rely on PET like never before. Society will pay the price of less education in prison."

PET is working with prisons to make sure people have as much information as possible about student loans so they can make informed decisions about whether they want to commit to the costs of a full degree. Read our Advice Manager's tips for people in prison considering taking out a loan.