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Arguing for Offenders being Supported towards Higher Education - Literature review Example

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Arguing for offenders being supported towards Higher Education. Introduction: the value of higher education in prisons. There is plenty of research from various countries which demonstrates the value of Higher Education in prisons, in terms of the rehabilitation opportunity it provides, and the positive effects that it can have in reducing reoffending rates…
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Download file to see previous pages Quite apart from the life enhancing benefits to prisoners themselves, who were able to gain insight into their own situation and formulate new and positive strategies for their future lives, there are obvious and positive impacts for society at large in opening up access to Higher Educations to prisoners. In general it is clear that the benefits of providing such access far outweighed the financial costs. What is less clear, is how best to deliver more access to higher education for the most excluded portion of citizens, namely those who are in the care of prisons and probation officers. Major shifts in criminal justice policies and in UK Higher Education. In the UK in recent years there have been some big ideological debates surrounding prisons, sentencing and the punishment and rehabilitation of offenders. At the same time there have been major changes in the UK Higher Education sector, with increasing privatisation of delivery and substantial fee increases. Vignoles and Crawford (2009, p. 49) point out that it has been difficult in the UK, even in the general population outside prisons, to widen access to access to Higher Education. Despite well-publicised efforts in the mid to late 1990s, to introduce policies to widen access, the gap in HE participation rates between higher and lower social classes actually widened. Adult learners, who are just one of several target groups in the widening access agenda, experience significant barriers to Higher Education entry which are only partially addressed by access courses and other outreach measures initiated by further and higher education institutions. The extent of the difference caused by socio- economic factors is still very large, and apparently growing: “Recent evidence from HEFCE (2005) indicates that the 20 per cent most disadvantaged students are around six times less likely to participate in higher education compared to the 20 per cent most advantaged pupils” (Vignoles and Crawford, 2009, p. 49). The introduction of very high fees in the mainstream higher education sector in the UK has caused a marked commercialisation of the whole student experience. There is a system in place which requires universities to make “Access Agreements” which in theory guarantee that special provision is made for students who have difficulty in meeting the high cost of fees. It has been noted already that the democratisation of higher education through these new measures has been only a partial success, with new universities in particular exceeding their targets in widening participation, while at the same time there appears to be a worrying entrenchment of top fifth, redbrick and elite institutions which perform below their expected benchmark (David, 2009, p. 46). There is a danger that these measures will increase access to the lower portion of Higher Education, such as foundation degrees and some BA and BSc programmes in some institutions, while actually increasing the exclusivity of popular courses in well-regarded universities. There is, of course, a tension between these financially driven reforms, and the objective of widening participation. Hartley sums up the main direction of the reforms of the early 1990s in Ritzer’s (1993) somewhat provocative term “McDonaldization” which postulates four key dimensions “efficiency, calculability, predictability and control” in post-modern organisations (Hartley, 1995, p. 409). This ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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