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Higher Education: Prisoners

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what plans he has to increase the higher education (a) budget for and (b) qualifications achieved in prisons. (196547)

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills set a budget of £547,000 for its support for prisoners studying undergraduate higher education with the Open university in 2007-08. In his written statement of 25 March 2008, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills said that he will be considering the future management of financial support for offenders in higher education, based on recommendations from this Department and the Ministry of Justice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many prisoners are participating in (a) distance learning provisions and (b) distance learning provisions provided by the Open university. (196549)

The number of prisoners participating in distance learning provided by the Open university changes from day to day as prisoners start and complete part-time courses of study. On Thursday 20 March 2008, figures from the Open university show that 935 prisoners were studying Open university courses through distance learning. In 2007 a total of 1,372 prisoners undertook one or more Open university courses.

Figures are not collected centrally on the number of prisoners where distance learning other than through the Open university is assessed as the most appropriate means of meeting their learning need.