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Everyone is different, everyone is valued, so we’ll help you succeed, whatever your career needs and whoever you are. Just bring yourself. Open University students residing in a secure environment, whether in prison or a secure unit, are entitled to careers support, as are all OU students. This service is delivered and adapted depending on a student's circumstances.

Eligibility for Careers Support

Students are eligible for careers support from the moment they register for a qualification and the service continues for up to three years after they have finished studying with us.

Students may contact us as many times as needed and our service continues once they are back in the community.

The Careers Consultant really helped me by understanding what I want to do in life.

SiSE Student

What Does Careers Advice Mean?

Thinking about your future and making it happen, isn’t just a list of practical steps.  It’s about how you feel about yourself, your life, who you are and who you want to be.

By choosing to study, students have brought about a change in their life.  Many OU students find that the process of studying and learning can make them feel differently about themselves and the world around them.

This is a process – not a one off decision, and we can support the student on this journey by:

  • Recognising skills and attributes
  • Identifying examples to evidence the development and use of their skills and attributes.
  • Identifying the gaps
  • Exploring ways of overcoming gaps, whilst in a secure environment
  • Planning for Cat D (for students in prison)
  • Exploring career options
  • Presenting themselves well in job applications
  • Planning and navigating a path ahead
  • Discussing job seeking and issues around disclosing a sentence

Really informative and helped me confirm my career aim and determine the route to take to achieve this.

SiSE Student


Procedure for Contact

Please contact the SiSE team if you would like to arrange a Careers appointment.

Careers Interviews by Telephone

This is not possible in all settings, but we have given telephone careers guidance by phone in a wide range of prisons. If telephone contact is inappropriate for your setting, we are more than happy to correspond by letter, or you may email us and we can continue a dialogue this way.

Appointments last around 45 minutes – but we can adjust times to fit in with you.  All we need to know is the number to call and a mutually convenient time.

Students are sent action plans, CV templates, information on disclosing, job profiles and much more, following an appointment.

Image of the career planning guideInformation and Advice

Our planning guide covers all aspects of planning your career:

  1. Your Career Planning Guide is available on the Virtual Campus in prisons, in hard copy format, as a downloadable PDF or in a disk format. This workbook will assist you with:
    • Identifying your skills
    • Exploring career options
    • Making decisions
    • CVs, application forms and interviews
    • How to present a gap in your employment history on a CV
  2. We can review CVs and offer advice
  3. We can also print and send copies of job profiles for students to explore options.
  4. Secure environments can mean no access to our careers website, but if interested, you can view this within the help centre
  5. Support for People with Convictions - This leaflet, provided as a downloadable PDF, includes contact details for advice and support organisations, and agencies supporting people with convictions into employment. The OU does not endorse any of the organisations these sites are linked to, we are providing them for your information and further research only.

Proactive Contact

We proactively write to students at three points during their studies to let them know about the service available.  These points are:

  • New student
  • Achieving a degree whilst in secure environment
  • On returning to the community

I was made to look at my life differently.

SiSE Student

Job Seeking Once in the Community

Students in secure environments are often unfamiliar with the graduate job market.  Here’s how we can help:

  • OpportunityHub – we advertise live vacancies (if students have access to our online systems)
  • Leaflet with links to organisations specialising in supporting people with convictions or disabilities, including mental health
  • Mock interviews
  • Internships
  • Advice for CVs
  • Personal statement reviews
  • Skills audits
  • How to arrange networking and work shadowing and why they count
  • A copy of Your Career Planning Guide is sent to all students when we are informed they have returned to the community.


An invaluable resource. Raises aspiration to further study and gives real focus on employment opportunities.

OU Coordinator on provision of careers support