Second chances for ex-offenders through education

The Frank Awards

The Frank Awards

PET LogoAlongside our Longford Scholarships, we also offer grants for serving prisoners to study for degrees at the Open University.

Lord Longford was known to all his friends and those he visited in prison as Frank.  The Frank Awards, run as a joint project by the Longford Trust, the Prisoners Education Trust and the Open University, with financial support from the Linbury Trust, provide grants to pay for serving prisoners to complete full modules of an Open University degree. 

"Thanks for supporting me and encouraging me in my OU studies," writes Tom, one of the first recipients of a Frank Award in 2014, the first year they were offered. "I don't want to let anyone down.  I'm sure I will do fine, but I just don't have a psyche informed by a lifetime of successful accomplishments."

In 2014, the Longford Trust gave seven Frank Awards, worth a total of £10,000, to serving prisoners. 

Who is Eligible | How to Apply | Conditions

Who is Eligible?

Changed funding arrangements introduced in 2012 meant that many serving prisoners could for the first time access tuition-fee loans to enable them to undertake degree-level Open University studies.  The Frank Awards are available to those who CAN NOT get a tuition-fee loan for their chosen OU course.

Among those eligible are:

(1) Those who have been refused a student loan;

(2) Those whose financial situation is such that they can present compelling evidence why they cannot, in any circumstances, take on the debt involved in a student loan;

(3) Those prisoners unable to continue existing OU studies because of the ending of transitional arrangements put in place by the OU when the funding arrangements changed in 2012, and therefore prevented from finishing their degree;

(4)  Those who already have received a first degree and therefore used up their entitlement to a student loan, but who, as a result of their conviction, now need to retrain at the Open University to improve their employment prospects on release.

These are just examples of those who may be covered by this new scheme.  If you are in any doubt as to whether you may be eligible, check with the prison education department, with the PET co-ordinator or with the Open University Distance Learning Co-ordinator, or write to

The Frank Awards,
The Foundry,
17 Oval Way,
London SE11 5RR.

How to Apply

There are two rounds of Frank Awards each academic year. 
The first closing date is September 1 2016 for OU module courses starting in October 2016. 
The second is December 18, 2016 for OU module courses starting in February 2017. 
The maximum award is £2750, roughly equivalent to the cost of one full module.
Application forms are only available from the prison education department, the PET co-ordinator, from PET or the Open University Distance Learning Co-ordinator


(1) You must have a conditional offer of a place on an OU degree-level module (these awards only apply to OU modules and do not cover Access modules);

(2) You must be a serving prisoner, with at least six months of your sentence still to serve on the day when the course you are applying for begins;

(3) All applications must be accompanied by a covering letter from the applicant explaining the reasons why they are applying for this award;

(4) You must provide evidence that you have applied for a student tuition loan while inside and been refused, or else set out the exceptional circumstances (providing additional evidence where appropriate) why you are unable to apply for student tuition-loan funding;

(5) All applications must be made on designated application forms ;

(6) All forms must be approved and endorsed for study on behalf of  the prison governor as is the case for other distance learning courses in custody;

(7)  Completed forms should be sent to The Frank Awards, PET, The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, London SE11 5RR;

(8) All applicants must have right to remain in the UK after completing their sentence;

(9) The funding provided in an award will be paid directly to the OU by the Longford Trust on behalf of the student.


Selection Criteria:

(1) Priority will be given in making awards to those who are studying for a first degree.

(2) Second degrees, or post-graduate courses, will only be supported if compelling evidence can be provided that the course of study proposed will enhance the applicant’s employment prospects on release.

(3) Priority will be given to younger applicants.

(4) The decision of the Longford Trust is final.  There is no appeal process.


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