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Prisoners are being denied the chance to learn their way out of a criminal career as governors axe education programmes to meet the Treasury demand for budget cuts.

A survey of the country's 136 jails by NATFHE, the university and college lecturer's union, has found that some of the most volatile prisons are cutting education services by half. Albany high security jail on the Isle of Wight is set to lose 83 per cent of its programme.

The Independent has also learned that in Holloway, the troubled women's prison, some of the worst cuts have been forced on it, not by the Prison Service, but by Kingsway College, in north London, which won the private contract to run its education services three years ago. Heather Mills