The Open University Prisons across the UK

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04 April 2019

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.

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