Supporting Students in Secure Environments

The Open University (OU) has changed the lives of more than two million people, bringing them new knowledge, skills, interests and inspiration, and helping them achieve new goals.

The main reason we're called The Open University is that we're open to everyone. Every year we help thousands of people achieve extraordinary things and you could be next. You simply need the determination to succeed.

The Open University has been providing world-class higher education to students in prison and those in the commnity for over 40 years as part of our mission to open up higher education to all. We are an Open University open to people, places, methods and ideas. Our first and key value is to be inclusive

Students in Secure Environments programme

Since the 1970s our Students in Secure Environments (SiSE) programme has spread to over 150 prisons, 50 secure hospital units and countless students studying with restrictions or licence conditions in the community.

Every year we provide a tailor-made curriculum, create bespoke study packs, and offer personalised support to our Students in Secure Environments.

Working with partner organisations within the Justice Sector, we have created a Virtual Learning Environment, accessible via the Virtual Campus, to allow students to access their materials in digital format.

This website provides information and guidance to:

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Our Curriculum

The University offers a wide range of highly respected qualifications, made up of undergraduate certificates, diplomas, foundation degrees, open and named degrees, as well as postgraduate certificates, diplomas and degrees.

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The Open University has a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Justice for the additional support provided to students who are resident in England and Wales.

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Virtual Campus

The Virtual Campus is a secure intranet system, it has been developed for use in prisons in England and Wales and allows students to access a range of information, communication facilities and other resources which would otherwise only be available online.

Being an Open University Student (Student Hub Live)

The SiSE team have created a Student Hub Live recording about being an Open University student.The video gives an overview of how to go about registering onto a module, studying from a Secure Environment and the tutorial support available.

Watch the whole video here: https://youtu.be/rzKDEVYkFbk

More specific information can be found on the Students in Prisons and Secure Hospitals page.

Degrees of Freedom

In 2019 as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, The Open University co-published an edited collection of writing by students and ex-students about their experiences of studying with the Open University in prison. Degrees of Freedom: Prison Education at The Open University is available from Bristol University Press.


Contact us

Students in Secure Environments (SiSE)
The Open University
Berrill Building
Milton Keynes

Telephone: 0300 303 6789

Email the SISE team