The Open University (OU), in partnership with Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET), will offer free level 1 courses to 150 prisoners a year as part of a three-year pilot scheme to help prisoners access Higher Education, a provision which is proven to improve employment prospects and reduce reoffending.
The project, which will run in England and Wales from September, is supported by a grant of £600,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation and £300,000 from the Open University Students Educational Trust charity.
External engagement director at The Open University, Steve Hill, said: “The OU has led in delivering education within prisons for nearly fifty years – we know that education has the power to transform lives and prisoners who study are significantly less likely to reoffend.
“The cost of current levels of reoffending by former prisoners is up to an estimated £13billion a year, something society can ill afford. This scheme will help prisoner learners gain confidence, improve their prospects on release and change the direction their lives have gone in.
“The Open University really can be truly life changing for those who study in prison.”
The Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded charitable grant-making foundation which supports more than 1,800 charities each year, donating in excess of £58 million in the most recent financial year.
Philippa Charles, foundation, said “The Trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation are delighted to support this project, which will enable men and women in prison to develop their personal confidence, capabilities and improve their chances of securing employment on release. We believe in the power of education in transforming lives, and look forward to seeing the transformative effect that improved access to higher education brings to individuals in prison across England and Wales.”