Open University and National Prison Radio

The Open University wanted to increase its engagement with people in prisons and encourage more to take an OU degree course. Having worked for National Prison radio for several years, we gained access to prisons to talk to current and former students of the OU. We also interviewed tutors and OU staff, before scripting and editing the three one-hour shows.

This was an interesting project. We have first-hand experience of the Open University and the courses it has to offer but seeing the huge impact education can have on prisoners was inspirational: people who had missed out on an education and have now disciplined themselves in often really poor conditions to learn, to write essays and to motivate themselves. Can you imagine writing up a project whilst your cellmate is sat on the toilet just metres away from you?

For these prisoners it gave them a key to unlock potential and a future that could take them away from the lives they knew. It gave them hope. It could give them a career and improve their chances of employment. If we just lock people away, and take hope and the ability to change away from them, what justice system do we have?

We felt inspired by the end of the production and we hope the listeners did too; and felt they could take the first steps to finding out about the opportunities the OU could give them.

We don’t have a link for you to listen as National Prison Radio only broadcasts within prisons but find out more about the brilliant work they do here:

and more about the OU and people in secure environments here: