THE University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) is breaking down barriers behind bars through an innovative partnership to bring higher education to incarcerated students across the country.
Amid increasing imprisonment rates across Australia, the Incarcerated Students Education Initiative delivers digital learning to inmates in partnership with Australian correctional jurisdictions.
The value and success of the initiative was recognised last week when it received the Equity and Access trophy at the Higher Education Awards in Melbourne.
UniSQ Professor Jim Nyland said the program empowered prisoners to turn their lives around, resulting in positive impacts for broader society.
“The initiative aims to reduce reoffending and enhance employment prospects through innovative and scalable programs for prisoners without internet access,” he said.
“Our vision is to ensure inclusivity and accessibility by increasing the digital literacy, critical thinking, and cognitive skills of inmates. “Educating inmates can decrease the long-term costs of crime, healthcare, and welfare as former prisoners secure employment and experience improved life and health outcomes.”
Since 2015, the project has expanded to 39 correctional centres with plans to extend its reach further.
UniSQ delivers the courses through an Offline Education Services platform enabling incarcerated students to access higher education digitally without internet connectivity.