Education on the inside: Creating a Culture of Acceptance 

In prison, there is a lack of incentivised options to challenge and change attitudes and beliefs about education. The emphasis on employability skills is at a very basic level, with a focus on minimum wage jobs. Those who are capable of achieving more are not catered for and are discouraged from applying by the barriers to study, lack of study support and digital access to study materials. There is potential for people in prison to have much higher employment aspirations, as a result of achieving HE qualifications, which in turn leads to a significant reduction in re-offending rates (Justice Data Lab, 2019). 

Our project ‘Education on the inside’ will offer degree courses to students in prison and is led by people who have successfully completed higher level study during a prison sentence. We will build strong relationships across the academic community, creating a culture within universities where prisoners are accepted on equal terms, and enabling prisoners to use higher education as a tool for personal transformation. The University has already adapted its student policies to address barriers to inclusion through open discussions about risk and support led by people with personal experience of prison. This model of good practice will be shared with other institutions. 

The University of Westminster is committed to providing access to education for people from every background. We have a strong track record as a leader in the field of prison-university partnerships and we are building on our expertise in this area to pilot the delivery of our full degree courses in prison. We are working with our partner DWRM Consultants to expand the virtual delivery of our Westminster degrees across the prison estate and to provide support to students through their journey into and through higher education. 

An article in the prison newspaper Inside Time elicited a great response:  

“I read your article and was immediately inspired. I want to use my time constructively and expand my horizons”

“Your partnership appears ideally placed to identify and address many of the considerable obstacles facing ambitious prisoners and I am excited about the possibility of benefiting from and contributing to your work in this area.”

How you can help

We need your help to ensure we can enable prisoners to reach their potential and break free from the cycle of crime through increased learning opportunities, improved employability skills and acceptance into the academic community. 
Your support will help unlock the incredible talent currently trapped in the prison system, and expand the impact of the power of education, for individuals and for a safer society.