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This strengthening relationship is pushing the boundaries of both institutions, with the benefits being felt by students, prisoners and staff across both the prison and the university.

Phil Novis, governor, HMP Leicester

This page shows where prison-university partnerships are happening in the UK. If you know of a partnership that’s missing from here, please get in touch with our Networks Officer Helena.

Newman University | HMP Birmingham |

Newman University HMP Birmingham

Model: Learning Together

“This whole experience for me has been crazy and beautiful. Would I call it a success? Yes- definitely.”

Lecturers at Newman University started in late 2016 a programme of Higher Education in HMP Birmingham called ‘Going Straight to University’. Modelled within the framework of Learning Together and inspired by Baz Dreisinger’s Prison to College Pipeline in John Jay College in New York, this partnership seeks to provide credits to prisoner learners that will provide a meaningful springboard into higher education on release.

University of Northampton | HMP Onley |

University of Northampton HMP Onley

Model: Lecture series

Lecturers in Criminology from Northampton are giving a three-part lecture course in Social Justice to students from HMP Onley alongside a cohort of Northampton’s Year 2 Criminology students. Established to break down barriers and enable the Onley students to “engage outside the normal parameters”, there is a view to expand the partnership to include other subject areas.

Nottingham Trent University | HMP Lowdham Grange | HMP Sudbury |

Nottingham Trent University HMP Lowdham Grange, HMP Sudbury

Model: Learning Together

The first Learning Together course between Nottingham Trent University and HMP Lowdham Grange piloted in the 2016/17 academic year, and was themed around the theory, policy and practice of Criminology and Education Studies. The eight-week course is intended as a study of, an exploration, and discussion into the value of lifelong learning, and the benefits of education provision for all. Delivered by Nottingham Trent University academics, learning is facilitated by a combination of seminars and discussions. A Sociology course now runs in Lowdham Grange and in HMP Sudbury.

The Open University | HMP Oakwood | HMP Stafford | HMP Wandsworth | HMP Wormwood Scrubs |

The Open University Prisons across the UK

Model: Various, including public legal education provided to prisoners via a partnership with St Giles Trust and with prison radio.

The Open University has been supporting students in prisons since the 1970s with courses ranging from short access modules to full undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes.

Since 2017, the Open University Law School through its Open Justice Centre, has run public legal education projects in eleven prisons across England and Wales: HMP Altcourse, HMP Cardiff, HMP Dovegate, HMP Oakwood, HMP Sudbury, HMP Leicester, HMP Foston Hall, HMP Send, HMP High Down, HMP Wandsworth and HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

All of our prison projects involve law students towards the end of their degree studies and most of the projects have been in partnership with St Giles Trust. This charity selects and trains prisoners to act as peer advisors to their fellow prisoners. Together, the peer advisors and law students identify areas of legal need in the prison. Under supervision, the students develop suitable learning materials to help address that need and deliver them to the peer advisors. The peer advisors are then able to disseminate this legal knowledge to others in the prison. Subjects have included release on temporary licence, deportation, family law matters and legal issues concerning employment after prison. In HMP Altcourse, the dissemination of legal knowledge researched by our law students takes place over prison radio.

The Open University has also run a series of research seminars in HMP Stafford and HMP Oakwood in which OU academics deliver a short lecture to prisoners, who are then invited to ask questions and discuss the issues raised. Topics have ranged from the rise of Donald Trump to the atmosphere of the moon.

University of Oxford | HMP Grendon |

University of Oxford HMP Grendon

Model: Learning Together

University of Roehampton | HMP Belmarsh |

University of Roehampton HMP Belmarsh

Model: Learning Together

We have brought together two enormous bureaucracies – and within those bureaucracies are scatterings of people who may never have thought about universities or prisons before in the course of their prison or university job.”

The University of Roehampton run a Criminology module called ‘Understanding Justice’ which is fully accredited for all 20 students (10 prison and 10 university students), who enrol. In the course they tackle two theoretical positions on the meaning of justice before applying these abstract notions to real world cases, for example by looking at the ‘Snoopers Charter’ through the lens of consequentialism.

Royal Holloway | HMP Bronzefield | HMYOI Feltham |

Royal Holloway, University of London HMYOI Feltham, HMP Bronzefield

Model: Learning Together

Undergraduate Criminology students from Royal Holloway have been studying ‘Contemporary Social Issues’ alongside learners in HMYOI Feltham, and students from University of Westminster. The programme has a strong study skills element, supporting Royal Holloway students as they make the transition into Higher Education, while also providing the young men at Feltham with valuable transferable skills, both for future study and for employability. In 2017 Serena Wright and Rosie Meek ran a module titled ‘Pioneering Women,’ offered to students from RHUL and prison learners in HMP Bronzefield.

University of Salford | HMP Forest Bank |

University of Salford HMP Forest Bank

Model: Inside Out

This Inside Out partnership between the University of Salford and HMP Forest Bank teaches a Criminology module. It is running for the first time in Autumn 2018.This criminology based module asks key questions each week, such as ‘What are prisons for?’ The module has two assessments, a reflective essay and a group work project. All students, both inside and out, have the same readings and assessment and receive credits for the module.

Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research | HMP Barlinnie | HMP Greenock | HMP Schotts |

Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research HMP Schotts, HMP Greenock, HMP Barlinnie

Model: Various, including academic reading groups

University postgraduate students meet monthly with prison-based students in peer-run sessions at HMPs Shotts, Greenock and Barlinnie to discuss academic texts in social sciences, humanities and physical sciences. The aim is to reproduce the kinds of reading groups typically available in universities as part of a liberal arts educational philosophy and which support: group based learning, discussion and debate skills, critical analytical skills, close reading, high level textual engagement and knowledge acquisition.

Teesside University | HMP Holme House |

Teesside University HMP Holme House

Model: Inside Out

The first Inside-Out course with Teesside University at HMP Holme House was established in 2016 and takes the central concern of social justice and explores this in the local context, tracing connections between global forces and local effects on the economy and industry, poverty and inequality, as well as crime and criminal justice. Undergraduate criminology and sociology students study alongside a cohort from HMP Holme House on a 14-week accredited module engaging with critical discussions and group work within an equal, positive and passionate learning environment.

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