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Increased interest in prison officer programme in partnership with the University

10 Sep 2018 10:00AM

A graduate prison officer leadership programme is seeing a dramatic rise in applications.

Unlocked Graduates is a two year programme and students who complete the programme are awarded an MSc in Leadership and Custodial Environments from the University of Suffolk.

The programme has been running for two years and it’s on track to double in size- with over 100 new officers hoping to be placed in prisons in London and the South East this September. For the first time, this will include prisons in the youth and high security estates.

Over 4,500 graduates registered their interest in the programme in 2018 – more than doubling the interest Unlocked Graduates experienced in its inaugural year. Over 1,600 people started the application, which this year included the option of a video submission alongside a traditional online form. This led to over 900 full applications for just 100 places.

While the applicants are all graduates wanting to play a frontline role in reforming the prison system, they come from all walks of life. Reflecting Unlocked’s recent recruitment drive to attract teachers, many have a background in education. Several successful applications came from primary school teachers, teaching assistants, those teaching English as a foreign language, and support staff working with children who have Special Educational Needs.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Suffolk, Professor Mohammad Dastbaz, said, “The MSc Leadership and Custodial Environments as part of the Unlocked Graduates scheme marks a significant contribution to raising the status of the role of prison officer and recognising the highly-skilled and complex nature of the job. The masters’ degree is the first of its kind in the country.”

Justice Secretary David Gauke said, “I’m pleased to see a growing number of talented graduates applying to Unlocked’s scheme – their desire to make a difference is inspiring.  Prison officer numbers are at their highest level since 2013 which is vital to ensuring prisons can fulfil their purpose of protecting the public, reducing reoffending and rehabilitating offenders.”

For more information about Unlocked Graduates visit


University of Suffolk Press Office
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