Widening prisoner access to degree courses ‘could save millions’

There are currently around 2,000 prisoners in higher education in the UK, the vast majority (1,750) studying for part-time distance-learning degrees with the Open University. Yet the Student Support Regulations for both England and Wales lay down that “to be eligible for student support the prisoner is someone whose earliest release date is within six years” of the start of their course. Times Higher Education reports.

Removal of “the six-year rule”, the policy note argues, “could yield an additional 9,770 eligible prisoners in England and Wales who would have access to higher education funding”. Given rates of “approximately 2 per cent of the prison population in higher education, we estimate this would equate to an additional 200 OU students per year” – and an additional £2.3 million in “the upfront cost of student loans”.

“Prisoners who seek to improve their education are positive role models for other prisoners and are less likely to reoffend on release,” said Hepi director Nick Hillman. “So it is hard to imagine anyone on either the right or left of politics could want the current obstacles to learning to stay in place.

Read the full article Widening prisoner access to degree courses ‘could save millions’ 

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