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.