Friday 28 October 2016

Taxpayer foots €135k bill for 54 inmates to take university courses

The taxpayer last year funded Open University courses to the tune of more than €135,000 for prison inmates to study the likes of creative writing, art - and the impact of crime.

New figures provided by the Department of Justice confirm that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) last year spent £102,292 (€137,860) on 54 prisoners to sit the UK-based Open University courses.

The spend, revealed in response to a Freedom Of Information request, works out at on average outlay of €2,552 per prison to take one of the courses available.

The £102,292 spend on Open University courses was part of a €1.1m spend by the IPS on prison education programme in 2014 for prisoners' rehabilitation.

The education programme includes inmates following this year's Leaving Cert English syllabus, where they are currently studying Shakespeare's Othello and Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

The €1.1m spend by the Prison Service on its education programme last year brings the amount spent on prison education programmes since 2006 to €12.3m.

On those taking Open University (OU) courses, the information provided shows that one of the courses taken by inmates last year was 'Crime and Justice' with others taking the 'Welfare, Crime and Society'.

Inmates taking the 'Crime and Justice' course explore crime and justice in both global and local contexts.


Students are learning about the impact of drug crime, cyber-crime, human trafficking, corporate crime, torture and genocide, stating that the course "is for anyone who has a serious interest in studying one of society's most pressing social problems".

Other inmates, who may have a cash-pile ready to greet them on the outside, are studying the 'You and Your Money'.

The OU states that the course will allow students to make more informed decisions about their personal finances and the course is a practical course that will develop students' financial skills.

Prisoners already with a basic grasp of Spanish last year took 'Viento en pop: upper Intermediate Spanish'.

Those looking for a career in sport after they serve their time last year sat through 'Sport and Conditioning Science in Practice', 'Working and Learning in Sport and Fitness' and 'Introduction to Sport, Fitness and Management'.

The more business-orientated inmates took courses in 'Business Functions in Context'. Other courses include 'Empire 1492 to 1975', 'Personal Lives and Social Policy'; 'The Physical World', and 'The Uses of Social Science'.

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