University courses for young people in prison

Ruth McFarlane profile

Project by Ruth McFarlane

University courses for young people in prison
We did it
On 30th November 2020 we successfully raised £5,080 with 27 supporters in 56 days

Delivery of a University Foundation module in 2 prisons, to test processes for full university registration.

 New stretch target

Exceeding our target will enable us to extend this pilot into another prison and so enable more people to benefit from life changing learning.

If we raise enough money, we will also be able to purchase laptops for in-cell learning. This costs £6500 for a set of 10 secure devices.


Our objective is to greatly increase the number of people in prison studying further and higher education.

DWRM works with universities to offer a much wider range of degree courses than are currently available to students in prison. We focus on the provision of study materials, tuition and greater participation in a learning community so as to properly engage students. 

As there is currently very limited support for prisoners on release, this tends to mean students are unable to complete their course or sit the required exams. Such students become disillusioned and often lost in terms of continuing with their education. We intend to bridge that gap by providing post release support to enable students to attend university campus to complete their degree.

Although our initial focus is on Higher Education, we plan to adopt a flexible provision which will incorporate Further Education and Apprenticeships. This option to “earn while you learn” is highly suited to people leaving prison and we are keen to promote this progressive opportunity, with the support of appropriate partners.

In this pilot project, starting in January 2021, we are partnering with Westminster University to deliver a Foundation module called Crime and Society. Participants at Feltham Young Offenders Institution and HMP Bronzefield (a women's prison) will be given full academic support, using a blended learning approach of recorded lectures, additional reading materials and tutorials via video call. Students who successfully complete the module will be able to apply for a university place starting in September 2021.

The money raised will cover the admin costs of delivering this project, including adapting materials for use in prison, training tutors and volunteers to deliver tutorials and study skills sessions, and carrying out a full evaluation so that the scheme can be rolled out to more prisons and with more university partners.

Participating students will not be required to pay any tuition fees for this module thanks to a generous donation already received.

DWRM Consultants is a not-for-profit social enterprise, led by Dan who has completed his undergraduate and postgraduate study while on a long prison sentence, and by Ruth who has extensive experience of teaching in prisons.

As we grow, we will employ people who have studied in prison.

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