F.08.Res.01 Certification of study loans - prisoner education activities

  1. Each prison has a stamp provided by Study-Link and the prison must stamp any application by a prisoner for a student loan. This stamp (see Note 1), when affixed to the documentation for a student loan, attests that:
    1. the prison authorities have sighted the application, and are therefore aware of it, and
    2. the documentation being sent to Study-Link for processing has in fact come from a prison, and
    3. the course of study being enrolled in, does not:
      1. pose a risk to the security of the prison (see Note 2), or
      2. pose a risk to the fulfilment of the prisoner's sentence plan, or
      3. pose a risk to the general public.
  2. The prison director or delegated person is responsible for certifying the student loan application meets the specified criteria of this policy.
  3. When making the decision described in paragraph 1 above, prison management must:
    1. know what course of study a prisoner is proposing to enrol in, and
    2. have assessed the risks as defined in 1c above, and
    3. consider the prisoner's security classification.
  4. The proposed course of tertiary study does not have to be directly related to the offender’s management plan. However, undertaking the study must not put the prisoner’s plan at “Risk”. (see Note 3)
  5. If prison management does not support a prisoner’s proposed study course, the reasons for this decision must be documented and communicated to the prisoner. A record of the discussion with the prisoner must be put in the prisoner’s file notes.
    1. For certified applications keep a photocopy of the page from the application by the prisoner that carries the stamp.
    2. For uncertified applications keep the document carrying the written decision.
  6. The prison director must keep a record of all applications.
  7. In all cases the prisoner is to be informed as soon as practicable of the decision.
  8. Where an application is not certified, prison management must ensure that the prisoner is supported to consider an alternative suitable course of study. (see Note 4) A record of any discussion with the prisoner is to be made in the prisoner's file notes.
  9. As it is possible to change study courses and apply the granted loan to a new course of study, prison management should verify from time to time that the course proposed and approved is the course which he / she is currently undertaking.
  10. It is also possible for a prisoner to seek to enrol in a tertiary course without seeking a student loan. However, prison management still need to assess the proposed course of study. (Criteria are specified in paragraph 3.)
  11. A prisoner must provide their own bank account through which any funds connected with the student loan must pass. The prisoner’s trust account is not to be used.
  12. Where a prisoner is transferring to another prison, sites should liaise to provide continuity of study arrangements. Assuming the prisoner is continuing with the same approved course, the presumption shall be that the original assessment stands and will be supported by the receiving prison and there should be no need for any substantive reassessment.
  13. Information on the availability of student loans is provided in the form of pamphlets from Study-Link, visits of Study-Link outreach officers, and Study-Link’s 0800 number, which is available to prisoners.
  14. Management programmes have the role of relationship maintenance with Study-Link. They also have a role in ensuring that information on Study-Link is available to prisoners.
  15. All prison staff have a role in supporting prisoners who want to study. The decision as to whether they apply for a loan or not belongs to the individual prisoner, and staff should not encourage or discourage. However, they should make sure that prisoners know about the option when they are considering a course of study.

Note 1: The stamp does not attest to the correctness of the information supplied by the prisoner and Study-Link bears the risk of fraud. It is not Prisons responsibility to verify or otherwise vet the information provided by the prisoner for the purpose of obtaining a student loan and / or enrolling in a course of tertiary study.

Note 2: The approving manager must consider the nature of the proposed course and the content of all the individual subjects that make up the course. This is to ensure that the knowledge gained or materials supplied do not present a real threat to prison security, that is provide the prisoner with the opportunity to instigate an event or action that may breach the security of the prison.

Note 3: ‘Risk’ means, the proposed study course clashes with or risks compromising the offender’s plan or the objective of reducing re-offending. All offender management plans, whether specifically stating so or not, are directed towards reducing reoffending. No proposed course of study should support or be seen to support future potential offending behaviour.

Note 4: Manager programmes are a resource to support case officers in this activity.

Prisoners sitting extramural examinations

At all times prisoners should be afforded a quiet room to sit their examination, have a degree of supervision throughout, and have interruptions kept to a minimum.

Managers should delegate a staff member to take responsibility to ensure that the preparation and sitting of exams run smoothly, and that all relevant staff are informed of when, where, and by whom the examination is taking place.

On completion of the exam, the delegated staff member should ensure the exam papers are sent to the appropriate extramural education organisation by registered post.