Boosting the participation of under-represented groups in Higher Education is a strategic goal for the UK government, and universities are encouraged to seek to attract a wide range of applicants from different social, cultural and educational backgrounds. About 30% of school leavers go straight to university and 50% of today’s 18-30 year olds will attain a degree. However, the proportion of people in prison who participate in Higher Education is less than 2% of the prison population.
DWRM plans to break down the barriers to successful delivery of Higher Education in prison, which we have experienced from both sides of the fence. We will work with universities to offer a choice of degree courses to students in prison, focusing on provision of study materials, tuition and participation in a learning community. And when people are released from prison, we will support them to attend the university campus to complete their degree.
“Education in prison should give individuals the skills they need to unlock their potential, gain employment, and become assets to their communities. It is one of the pillars of effective rehabilitation. Education should build social capital and improve the well-being of prisoners during their sentences.”  

Dame Sally Coates

Image taken from the Russell Webster site

We are working with several universities already and will share details here as these partnerships progress.

Our first partner is the University of Westminster

Westminster University is committed to providing access to education for people from every background. This is at the heart of the purpose and mission of the institution as stated in the 2018 – 2023 strategic plan. Westminster also has a strong track record as a leader in the field of prison-university partnerships. There are currently four existing partnerships which bring Westminster students and prisoner students together in a range of learning initiatives. These partnerships are embedded and growing, and at the start of a 3-year funding relationship with the Quinton Hogg Trust. This sector-leading position makes the University of Westminster an ideal institution to lead our current initiative seeking to broaden access to higher education for current and former prisoners.

Westminster’s commitment to inclusive education is clear through their policy on admissions for people with convictions. The policy is open and accessible and was developed alongside organisations working to support prisoner education. This has allowed students from all backgrounds (including recently released and currently serving prisoners) to study for their futures at Westminster.