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Student Journey In and Beyond Prison


To support greater understanding of the experience of our students and to facilitate evidence-based development of support.


  • To understand the experiences of students who study whilst in prison and and upon release.
  • To explore the support needs of students who are studying upon release.
  • To recommend actions that could be taken to enable students who have been in prison to be supported more effectively to continue their studies.


One to one telephone interviews were undertaken with 14 students who had been released from prison on license.  Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using NVivo to facilitate the process.  


Findings from detailed discussions with study participants indicate quite clearly the extent to which the often turbulent and unpredictable life for individuals on release from prison impacts in their attempts to continue with their studies. This signals the need for an exploration of the ways in which support in this transition period can be enhanced. Participants’ stories point to several inter-related roles for such enhanced support:

  • Advocate: to partner with and champion the individuals’ study career in the short term.
  • Casework/Fixer: to proactively work with colleagues and systems to resolve issues that arise as a result of transition.
  • Translator: from a position of knowledge, to support individuals’’ understanding of system and processes.
  • Mentor: to complement any module tutoring arrangements by providing broader support and guidance to individuals. 


  • Develop a model of working proactively with students recently released from prisons, to support their transition and retention.  
  • Develop and agree a protocol or process for offering students released from prison the ability to pause their studies for a short period of time.