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How can we support incarcerated men and women in their journey to getting their lives back on track?
What if a solution to social exclusion and re-offending already existed?

As our country stands at a crossroad, grappling with the 75% of formerly incarcerated adults who re-offend within nine years of release, Learning-in-Prison offers a new vision of doing time that will transform lives and make communities safer for all. 

Founded by the University of Manchester, University-in-Prison fights social exclusion, unemployment, and re-offending through delivering tuition-free undergraduate education in the liberal arts to incarcerated students in prisons across the Northwest of England.

Transforming the meaning of time behind bars, Learning-in-Prison students enrol full-time in the same classes that they would on campus, sit the same exams as campus students, and graduate with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from the University of Manchester.

Learning-in-Prison is grounded in decades of research demonstrating the enduring social exclusion and stigmatization that can follow formerly incarcerated individuals upon completion of a criminal custodial sentence.

In England and Wales, just 23% of formerly incarcerated people are employed six months after release from prison, dropping to 17% one year after release. Unemployment is one of the main reasons that 39.3% of formerly incarcerated people re-offend within twelve months of being released, jumping to 75% within nine years.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

We plan to begin teaching in prison with a One-Year pilot in September 2023.

The aim of the pilot is to understand and overcome the many barriers to providing high quality face-to-face higher education in correctional settings.

Over the course of two 12-week semesters, the University of Manchester adapt and deliver six undergraduate modules (three per semester) from the BA Liberal Arts Program to an incoming cohort of 12-15 incarcerated students.

Students will undergo a competitive admissions process, enrol full-time with the same course load that they would on Manchester’s main campus, and they will be held to the same high standards as all University of Manchester students.


On-going monitoring of teaching delivery methods through academic assessments, student surveys, teaching experience logs, and feedback from prison authorities will form the basis of the pilot’s evaluation, providing critical early outcome data for refining future delivery methods and face-to-face prison-based higher education.

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