Higher Education on the Outside: Supporting Students once Released from Prison

Paul Buckley

University of Southern Queensland


Dr Helen Farley

University of Southern Queensland
Adjunct Associate Professor

https://staffprofile.usq.edu.au/Profile/Helen-Farley https://www.linkedin.com/in/helensfarley/

Stephen Seymour

University of Southern Queensland
Coordinator. Incarcerated Students.

Stephen is the Coordinator Incarcerated Students and for the Incarcerated Student Strategy at The University of Southern Queensland. The strategy has many participants, contributors and key stakeholders across numerous industry sectors and community. In partnership with the stakeholders, Stephen has specific responsibilities for maintaining and implementing the strategy and supporting students and educational staff in achieving educational outcomes. Before joining the team, Stephen spent 10 years in the Vocational Education Sector working closely with clients and stakeholders as Director for Business Development and Industry Engagement. Stephen also has extensive project and program experience in the Not for Profit sector and cross cultural contexts specifically in economic and community development in central and southern Africa, primarily in the Congo and Zimbabwe. https://staffprofile.usq.edu.au/Profile/Stephen-Seymour

Education can be transformative for those who are incarcerated. It helps prisoners imagine a new life for themselves and for their families post-release. But how do we as educators ensure that this momentum is maintained once the learner leaves custody?

This paper proposes a proactive approach whereby the external educational provider works with the learner just prior to and after release in order to maintain the momentum. It discusses some of the challenges of participating in education and accessing support post release. The paper then explores how, through the lived and shared experiences of a current university student, how higher education undertaken while incarcerated and continued on the outside, can and has been achieved. There will be an exploration of the social, emotional and practical barriers to reengaging with education with insights into how they may be overcome.

The paper concludes with a discussion of the specific strategies used by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) to keep formerly incarcerated students engaged with learning post-release. These tools were developed as part of the USQ Incarcerated Student Strategy, formerly adopted by the university in 2018. USQ in partnership with correctional centre staff works actively to encourage and facilitate ongoing student engagement and participation in education post release.