University of Westminster Criminology students graduate from module in HMP Pentonville with inmate learners
Criminology 17 December 2018
The programme, entitled ‘Making Links’, has been running since January 2016 and was founded by Criminology lecturers Dr Andreas Aresti and Dr Sacha Darke. This semester, it enabled ten Westminster students, called ‘outside learners’, and 10 inmates, called ‘inside learners’ to study together once a week in the prison library.
Held in collaboration with Jose Aguiar, Education Consultant at HMP Pentonville, the project creates a direct connection between prisons and universities through Higher Education. University of Westminster students acted as academic mentors for the inside learners, supporting their critical thinking, research knowledge and presentation skills. At the end of the module, inside learners were awarded a Level 3 qualification, worth 20 credits, which they can take forward to apply for a Foundation degree in Criminology. They were presented their certificates by Dr Aresti, Dr Darke and Jose Aguiar, in the presence of Professor Roland Dannreuther, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster.
Inside learners also completed a learning log, in which they reflected on how the module has helped them to articulate their own prison experience. Through engaging with theoretical research and cross-marking each other’s work, all students were able to deepen their understanding of prisons under systems and the study of convict criminology.
Reflecting on his experience at the end of the 10-week module, one inside learner said: “Thank you so much to the University of Westminster for giving us this brilliant opportunity – the lectures, seminars and workshops have been very engaging and it has been great to spend time with the outside learners.
“From beginning to end, it’s been non-stop; I’ve experienced most of the ‘history of prisons’ on a personal level and definitely relate to all of the coursework. I’ve learnt communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and putting them into practice has really helped all of us inside learners believe that we can truly build a better future for ourselves.”
Outside students Khadija Ahmed and Sejal Govind also shared their thoughts on completing the programme, saying: “It’s been great to hear personal experiences of life in prison and get to know each inside learner as individuals. At university we learn a lot of academic theory which can only tell you so much, so it’s been truly eye-opening to see how prisons are run and designed, articulating our learning experience.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster Professor Roland Dannreuther said: “It has been an absolute privilege for the University of Westminster to come into Pentonville and promote research, education and the rehabilitation of inmates. There has always been an ideology that university education is only for the advantaged, but our aim is to break down these barriers and open doors that otherwise would not have been open, to provide education for all.”
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