Incarcerated students, the technological divide and the challenges in tertiary education delivery

Lorna Barrow, Trudy Ambler, Matthew Bailey, Andrew McKinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The technological divide that incarcerated students experience when undertaking tertiary studies via Distance Education (DE) separates them from other university students. The aim of this article is to research the problems incarcerated students have accessing technology for the purpose of study and to understand the technological facilities needed to support their learning. Quantitative and qualitative survey data was collected for the study from students in the New South Wales Corrective Services (NSWCS) and from Prison Education Officers (PEOs) employed by NSWCS. The surveys explored the educational and technological concerns, present and future, of this cohort of diverse students and examined the perspectives of the PEOs. Findings from the research highlight that incarcerated students engaged in study felt it made them feel positive about their future, inspired them to continue studying after their prison term, and they would recommend further study to fellow prisoners. Preparing those in Corrective Services (CS) for life after incarceration is essential for reducing recidivism. As this article reveals, educating those in the prison system may contribute to enhanced social and cultural capital and thus it is an important consideration for government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Bias, Identity and Diversities in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • bias
  • distance education
  • diversity
  • equity
  • incarcerated
  • marginalised
  • social inclusion
  • technology


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