higher education, partnership, localism, reflexivity


This paper engages with challenges of localism, collaboration and reflexivity in thinking about the conceptualisation and development of partnership learning communities between higher education and criminal justice institutions. Grounded in experiences of partnership working in the UK and Australia, our arguments are twofold: first, drawing on missions, policy and practice challenges, that there is a case to be made for partnership-working between higher education and criminal justice institutions; and second that, although there is a need to think about collaborative international structures, there is also a need to reflect critically on how different socio-political and cultural realities (both within and beyond national borders) might shape the particular nature of partnership working. Therefore, while warmly welcoming international collaboration in this field, we urge caution in importing or exporting different "models" of partnership working. We make the case, instead, for open-textured theoretical and empirical reflexivity.

Author Bio

Dr Amy Ludlow is Director of the MSt Programme in Criminology, Penology and Management and a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Criminology, and an Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge. Amy has conducted wide-ranging research in prisons, focussing especially on how organisational reforms in the sector, particularly marketisation and privatisation, affect prison staff culture and quality of life for staff and prisoners. Together with Ruth Armstrong, she founded and directs Learning Together, a higher education initiative that builds learning communities that span criminal justice system and university walls.

Dr Ruth Armstrong is a British Academy Post Doctoral Fellow and Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge. Ruth has conducted research internationally and in the UK on different aspects of life in prison and post release, especially focussing on the individual and social aspects of routes out of crime. Together with Amy Ludlow, she founded and directs Learning Together, a higher education initiative that builds learning communities that span criminal justice system and university walls.

Professor Lorana Bartels is a Professor of Criminology at the Australian National University and was previously Professor and Head of the School of Law and Justice at the University of Canberra, Australia. She is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, a Life Member of Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She is a also member of the editorial boards of the Alternative Law Journal, Criminal Law Journal and International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Professor Bartels has published extensively on criminal justice issues, especially sentencing, corrections and the treatment of Indigenous peoples and women in the criminal justice system.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



ABC News (2016, May 11). More than 70 teaching staff in NSW prisons to go under education shake-up. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-11/teachers-in-nsw-prisons-to-go-under-shakeup/7404596

Abrams, L., & Lea, C. (2016). An ethnographic study of life skills courses in a men’s jail. Prison Journal, 96, 667-687.

ACT Corrective Services (2018). ACT Corrective Services. Retrieved from http://www.cs.act.gov.au/act_corrective_services

Allport, G. (1954). The Nature of Prejudice. Cambridge/Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Amin, A., & Howell, P. (2016). Releasing the Commons: Rethinking the Futures of the Commons. London, United Kingdom /New York, NY: Routledge.

Anonymous (2018). Schooling in a Canadian federal prison. Advancing Corrections, 6, 20-30.

Armstrong, R., & Ludlow, A. (2016). Educational partnerships between universities and prisons: How Learning Together can be individually, socially and institutionally transformative. Prison Service Journal, 225, 9-17.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018). Corrective Services, Australia, June quarter 2018. Cat 4512.0. Canberra, Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australian Corrective Services Ministers’ Conference (2012). Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia.

Australian Law Reform Commission (2017). Pathways to Justice—Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Report 133. Sydney, Australia: Australian Law Reform Commission.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2015). The Health of Australia’s Prisoners 2015. Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Baldry, E. (2018, July 27). Personal communication on file in possession of authors.

Bartels, L., Walvisch, J., & Richards, K. (2019). More, longer, tougher… or is it finally time for a different approach to the post-sentence management of sex offenders in Australia? Criminal Law Journal, 43, 41-57.

Bauman, Z. (2016). Strangers at Our Door. Cambridge/Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Boyle, J. (1977). A Sense of Freedom. London, United Kingdom: Ebury Press.

Braithwaite, J. (1989). Crime, Shame and Reintegration. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Christle, C. Jolivette, K., & Nelson, C. (2010). Breaking the school to prison pipeline: Identifying school risk and protective factors for youth delinquency. Exceptionality, 13(2), 69-88.

Coates, S (2016). Unlocking Potential: A Review of Education in Prison. London, United Kingdom: Ministry of Justice.

Council of Europe. (1990). Education in prison: Recommendation No. R (89) 12 adopted by the

Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 13 October 1989 and explanatory memorandum.

Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe.

Council of Europe (2006). European Prison Rules. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe.

Davis, L., Bozick, R., Steele, J., Sanders, J., & Miles, J. (2013). A Meta-analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

Downes, P., Nairz-Wirth, E., & Rusinaite, V. (2017). Structural Indicators for Inclusive Systems In and Around Schools: Analytical Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Duffy, B., Wake, R., Burrows, T., & Bremner, P. (2008). Closing the Gaps: Crime and Public Perceptions. London: Ipsos MORI.

Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential. New York City, NY: Random House Publishing Group.

Esmée Fairbairn (2005). Rethinking Crime and Punishment: The Report. London, United Kingdom: Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Evans, G. (2018, July 17). How welcoming are our universities for people with criminal convictions? https://learningtogethercambridge.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/how-welcoming-are-our-universities-for-people-with-criminal-convictions/

Farley, H. (2018, August 1). Personal communication on file in possession of authors.

Farley, H., Pike, A., Demiray, U., & Tanglang, N. (2016). Delivering digital higher education into prisons: The cases of four universities in Australia, UK, Turkey and Nigeria (Yongsheng Zhang trans.). Distance Education in China, 7(26), 35-43.

Farley, H., & Hopkins, S. (2016). The prison is another country: incarcerated students and (im)mobility in Australian prisons. Critical Studies in Education, 58(2), 150-167.

Farley, H., & Hopkins, S. (2018). Moving forward together: Supporting educators to support incarcerated students in Australian prison-based higher education. Advancing Corrections, 6, 143-150.

Fine, M., & Torre, M. (2004). Re-membering exclusions: participatory action research in public institutions’ Qualitative Research in Psychology, 1, 15-37.

Fitzgerald, R., Bartels, L., Freiberg, A., Cherney, A., & Buglar, S. (2016). How does the Australian public view parole? Results from a national survey on public attitudes towards parole and re-entry. Criminal Law Journal, 40, 307-324.

Fitzgerald, R., Freiberg, A., & Bartels, L. (2018). Redemption or forfeiture? Understanding diversity in Australians’ attitudes to parole. Criminology and Criminal Justice. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1748895818800738

Flikschuh, K. (2014). The idea of philosophical fieldwork: global justice, moral ignorance and intellectual attitudes. Journal of Political Philosophy, 22, 1-26.

Freiberg, A. (2001). Affective versus effective justice: Instrumentalism and emotionalism in criminal justice. Punishment and Society, 3, 256-278.

Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy and Civic Courage. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Freire, P. (1997). Pedagogy of the Heart. New York, NY: Continuum.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth, United Kingdom: Penguin.

Graham, K. (2014). Does school prepare men for prison? City, 18(6), 824-836.

Gone, J. (2018). Considering Indigenous research methodologies: critical reflections by an indigenous knower. Qualitative Inquiry. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800418787545

Gurin, P., Dey, E., Hurtado, S., & Gurin, G. (2002). Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review, 72(3), 330-367.

Gurin, P., Nagda, B., & Lopez, G. (2004). The benefits of diversity in education for democratic citizenship. Journal of Social Issues, 60, 17-34.

Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action – Reason and the Rationalization of Society. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Hemphill, S., Broderick, D., & Heerde, J. (2017). Positive Associations Between School Suspension and Student Problem Behaviour: Recent Australian Findings. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 531. Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Criminology.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (2016). An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Short-term Prisoners. Manchester, United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (2018). About us. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/her-majestys-prison-and-probation-service/about

Hil, R. (2012). Whackacdemia: An Insider’s Account of the Troubled University. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales Press.

Hil, R. (2015). Selling Students Short: Why You Won’t Get the University Education You Deserve. Sydney, Australia: Allen and Unwin.

Hirschfield, P., & Piquero, A. (2010). Normalization and legitimation: Modelling stigmatizing attitudes towards ex-offenders. Criminology, 48, 27-55.

Horton, M., & Freire, P. (1991). We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (2016). The Teaching Excellence Framework: Assessing Quality in Higher Education (Third Report of Session 2015-16 HC 572). London, United Kingdom: Stationery Office.

James, E. (2016). Redeemable: A Memoir of Darkness and Hope. London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury.

Jerrim, J., & Parker, P. (2015). Socioeconomic inequality in access to high-status colleges: A cross-country comparison. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 42, 20-32.

Jewkes, Y. (2015). Foreword. In D. Drake, R. Earle & J. Sloan, The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography (pp. ix-xiv). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kilty, J., & Lehalle, S. (2018). Voices from inside the circle: The Walls to Bridges collaborative teaching and learning experience in Canada. Advancing Corrections, 6, 46-56.

Krezmien, M., Leone, P., & Wilson, M. (2014). Marginalized students, school exclusion and the school-to-prison pipeline. In W. Church, D. Springer & A. Roberts (Eds.), Juvenile Justice (pp. 267-287). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Krisberg, B., & Marchionna, S. (2007). Attitudes of US voters toward youth crime and the justice system. Focus: Views from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Retrieved from https://www.nccdglobal.org/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/focus-voters-and-youth.pdf

LeBel, T., Burnett, R., Maruna, S., & Bushway, S. (2008). The “chicken and egg” of subjective and social factors in desistance from crime. European Journal of Criminology, 5, 130-158.

LEGACY Project (2018). Measuring learning gain. Retrieved from https://warwick.ac.uk/services/aro/dar/quality/legacy/strands/measuringlearninggain/

Losen, D., & Gillespie, J. (2012). Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School. Los Angeles: Centre for Civil Rights, University of California.

MacPherson, K. (2018). Transformation through education: The epitome of a ‘hook-for-change’? Advancing Corrections, 6, 10-19.

Martinovic, M. (2016). Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program arrives at RMIT in Melbourne. PacificRim: Newsletter of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, 13(2), 15-16.

Maruna, S. (2012). A signalling perspective on employment-based re-entry: Elements of successful desistance signalling. Criminology & Public Policy, 11, 73-86.

Maruna, S., & King, A. (2004). Public opinion and community penalties. In A. Bottoms, S. Rex & G. Robinson. (Eds). Alternatives to Prisons: Options for an Insecure Society (pp. 83-112). Cullompton, United Kingdom: Willan.

Maruna, S., & King, A. (2008). Selling the public on probation: Beyond the bib. Probation Journal, 55, 337-351.

Mayes, L., Owens, T., Falvai, J., & De Temple, T. (2018). Turning correctional education inside-out: Experiences and lessons from a university partnership. Advancing Corrections, 6, 57-69.

McAlinden, A., Farmer, M., & Maruna, S. (2017). Desistance from sexual offending: Do the mainstream theories apply? Criminology & Criminal Justice, 17, 266-283.

McAra, L., & McVie, S. (2010). Youth crime and justice: Key messages from the Edinburgh study of youth transitions and crime. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 10, 211-230.

McDonald, M. (2015, November 9). Victorian prisoners to be tested for literacy, numeracy in justice system shake-up. ABC News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-09/victorian-prisoners-to-be-tested-for-literacy-and-numeracy/6923000

Meisenhelder, T. (1982). Becoming normal: Certification as a stage in exiting from crime. Deviant Behaviour: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 3, 137-153.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mountford-Zimdars, A., Sabri, D., Moore, J., Sanders, J., Jones, S., & Higham, L. (2015). Causes of Differences in Student Outcomes. London, England: Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Munoz, V. (2009), Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education (Report No. A/HRC/14/25/Add.2). Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations Human Rights Council.

National Offender Management Service (2014). Prison Service Instructions 2014: Sentence Planning 19/24. London, England: National Offender Management Service.

Nichols, H. (2018). Higher education in high security: Meaningful education experiences in the absence of learning technologies. Advancing Corrections, 6, 70-80.

Norton, A. (2018, February 22). Higher education inequality: how well has Australia limited differential access levels by socioeconomic status? Retrieved from https://andrewnorton.net.au/2018/02/22/higher-education-inequality-how-well-has-australia-limited-differential-access-levels-by-socioeconomic-status/

NSW Teachers Federation (2018, July 14). TAFE and Corrective Services on Federation’s election agenda. Retrieved from https://news.nswtf.org.au/blog/news/2018/07/tafe-and-corrective-services-federations-election-agenda

Office for Fair Access (OFFA) (2015). OFFA Topic Briefing: BME Students. London, United Kingdom: OFFA.

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (2015). Annual report of her majesty’s chief inspector of education, children’s services and skills 2014/15. (Report No. HC 616). London, United Kingdom: Williams Lea Group on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Petigrew, T., & Tropp, L. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 751-783.

Pike, A., & Farley, H. (2018). Education and vocational training: Why the differences are important. Advancing Corrections, 6, 81-93.

Pompoco, A., Wooldredge, J., Lugo, M., Sullivan, C., & Latessa, E. (2017). Reducing inmate misconduct and prison returns with facility education programs. Criminology & Public Policy, 16, 515-547.

Prisoners’ Education Trust (2018). Learners’ stories. Retrieved from https://www.prisonerseducation.org.uk/stories

Productivity Commission (2018). Report on Government Services 2017. Canberra, Australia: Productivity Commission.

Right Now (2012). ANU law students at the ACT’s Corrections Centre. Retrieved from http://rightnow.org.au/interview-3/anu-law-students-at-the-acts-corrections-centre/

RMIT University (2015, July 31). Jail no bar to equal justice for RMIT students. Retrieved from https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2015/july/jail-no-bar-to-equal--justice-for-rmit-students

Roff, S., Cucchiara, A., & Dunlap, B. (2000). From the Free Academy to CUNY: Illustrating Public Higher Education in New York City, 1847-1997. New York, NY: Fordham Press.

Runnell, L. (2015). Identifying desistance pathways in a higher education program for formerly incarcerated individuals. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 61, 894-918.

Scott, D., & Codd, H. (2012). Controversial Issues in Prisons. Maidenhead, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Sennett, R. (2018). The open city. In T. Haas & H. Westlund (Eds.), In the Post-Urban World: Emergent Transformation of Cities and Regions in the Innovative Global Economy (pp. 97-106). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Sharpe, G. (2015). Precarious identities: “Young” motherhood, desistance and stigma. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 15, 407-422.

Shapland, J., Farrell, S., & Bottoms, A. (2016). Global Perspectives on Desistance: Reviewing What We Know and Looking to the Future. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Shorrocks, A., Davies, J., & Lluberas, R. (2017). Global Wealth Report 2017. Zurich, Switzerland: Credit Suisse Research Institute.

Skills Funding Agency. (2016). OLASS English and Maths Assessments: Participation 2015/16. London, United Kingdom: Skills Funding Agency.

Social Mobility Advisory Group. (2016). Working in Partnership: Enabling Social Mobility in Higher Education. London, United Kingdom: Universities UK.

Stevenson, J. (2012). Black and Minority Ethnic Student Degree Retention and Attainment. London, United Kingdom: The Higher Education Academy.

Taylor, E. (2013). Surveillance Schools: Security, Discipline and Control in Contemporary Education. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Universities Australia. (2018, May 16). Student satisfaction with uni education remains high. Retrieved from https://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/Media-and-Events/media-releases/Student-satisfaction-with-uni-education-remains-high#.W1-CR3dh3Uo

Universities UK (2018, July 27). National student survey 2018. Retrieved from https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/news/Pages/National-Student-Survey-2018.aspx

University of Cambridge (2004). University of Cambridge’s Response to the Fair Admissions to Higher Education (Schwartz Report): Draft Recommendations for Consultation. Retrieved from https://www.cao.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.cao.cam.ac.uk/files/rfc/rfc_fairadmissions-2.pdf

University of Cambridge (2018a). Admissions policy. Retrieved from https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/decisions/admissions-policy

University of Cambridge (2018b). The University’s mission and core values. Retrieved from https://www.cam.ac.uk/about-the-university/how-the-university-and-colleges-work/the-universitys-mission-and-core-values

University of Canberra (2018). Distinctive by Design: Our Strategic Plan 2018-2022. Canberra, Australia

Vacca, J. (2004). Educated prisoners are less likely to return to prison. Journal of Correctional Education, 55, 297-305.

Valentine, G. (2008). Living with difference: Reflections on geographies of encounter. Progress in Human Geography, 32(3), 323-337.

Warner, K. (2018). Every possible learning opportunity: The capacity of education in prison to challenge dehumanisation and liberate ‘the whole person’. Advancing Corrections, 6, 32-45.

Weis, L., & Fine, M. (2003). Silenced Voices: Extraordinary Conversations. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

World Prison Brief (2018). United Kingdom: England and Wales. Retrieved from http://www.prisonstudies.org/country/united-kingdom-england-wales

Youth Justice Board (2006). Barriers to Engagement. London, United Kingdom: Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.