Studying in prison

This article was sent to us by a student living in a secure environment (SiSE), Mike S., for the third edition of the printed Hoot newsletter for SiSE.

It is tough enough working on an OU degree while attempting to balance work, family and other distractions. Imagine trying to do it in the noisy environment of a prison, with limited access to IT, zero opportunity to research on the internet, no contact with other students on the course and inconsistent support from the prison authorities. As I prepare to take my finals of my BA (Hons) degree in Languages (French and Spanish) after six years of trials and tribulation, the OU Students Association have kindly allowed me to share my experiences with you.

Actually, hats off to the Association who have been brilliant in the final two years of the course by providing an invaluable library research facility for those of us in prison and other secure environments. My tutors, too, have all been professional, helpful and totally non-judgemental. My comments on the support from the OU itself are largely unprintable! I have been constantly frustrated by their lack of response.

We all study in our own way. I have always been an early morning learner, which helps in this environment as my learning period from 05:30 till 08:00 is about the only time of the day you are guaranteed peace and quiet. The time slot is nothing to do with the fact that I am approaching 70 years of age!

The image shows a pair of glasses resting on a book.Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.Getting books and other reference material is also far from easy, especially as there are huge problems in secure establishments with paper impregnated with spice being a common channel for drugs to be sent in. As always, the rules they bring in to deal with that issue impacts on the innocents who are just trying to improve themselves and wouldn’t ever abuse an illegal substance.

I was supposed to have an official presentation for my Diploma of Higher Education, but, for some reason, that never happened. If I pass my finals in the next month or so, I will probably wait until my release in October next year before attending a graduation ceremony.

Studying in prison has been unbelievably tough but really, really rewarding.

This student has reached out to the Students Association to support them with the issues they have raised regarding communications and support. If you are experiencing issues impacting your studies, please contact the EDI and Student Welfare Team at the Association: Email: Post: PO Box 397, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6BE.

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The Editorial team.


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