526. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners actively following a course with the Open University at present, in total and in each institution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20661/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the Education Unit in each of the prisons offers a broad and flexible programme of education to prisoners, ranging from basic literacy classes to Open University courses.
Education Units in prisons are involved in the development and implementation of a wide variety of courses catering for the needs and interests of prisoners. While Open University courses represent the higher end of academic achievement in prisons, the majority of courses on offer lead to certification, mainly State examinations or FETAC accreditation.
With regard to Open University, there is a uniform application procedure with associated guidelines and prisoners must demonstrate the proven academic ability required to complete a third level course of study, prior to funding being approved.
The number of prisoners following a course with the Open University at the present time, in total and in each institution is set out in the table.

Prison Number of students
Arbour Hill 7
Castlerea 2
Cork 2
Dóchas 3
Limerick 3
Loughan House 5
Midlands 3
Mountjoy 2
Portlaoise 7
Shelton Abbey 1
Training Unit 3
Wheatfield 9
Total 47