The University of Cagliari Prison Campus (PUP) was established within the context of the National Conference of Delegates of the Rectors (CNUPP) in April 2018, with the primary objective of guaranteeing the right to academic study to people in a state of deprivation of liberty: this falls fully in line with the university’s first mission.

Thanks to a growing collaboration, an increasing number of Italian universities are committed to guaranteeing the right to study to those detained through educational and training activities. There are currently 43 national universities with educational and training activities, involving around 100 prison institutions and 1,400 students.

In the 2022-23 Academic Year, the University of Cagliari Prison Campus boasts 22 university students (21 men and a woman): 7 are guests at the Uta Prison House, 11 at Massama Prison and 4 in alternative measures.

The involved faculties are:

  • Faculty of Engineering and Architecture
  • Faculty of Economics, Law, and Political Sciences
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Sciences
  • Faculty of Medicine and Surgery


The first PUP graduate earned his title on 29 September 2022 in Economics and Management of Tourist Services. The ceremony took place in the Massama Prison (OR) in the presence of the Rector, the thesis supervisor Daniela Pettinao and the Degree Commission.

UniCa’s Prison Campus participates in the National Assemblies of the CNUPP every six months.

The University of Cagliari Prison Campus has several objectives, including: 

  • to guarantee the right to study to people deprived of liberty;
  • to promote university training and scientific dissemination activities;
  • to increase the number of prisoners enrolled at the university;
  • to encourage the enrolment of women prisoners;
  • to organise study orientation activities for people who hold a high school diploma and wish to use the term of imprisonment in a stimulating and profitable way;
  • to protect the relationship between detained students (both men and women), and professors, through the figures of Teaching Tutors and Tutors for Social Inclusion;
  • to reduce the effects of prisonisation and increase the welfare of detained people;
  • to promote positive interactions inside and outside prison.

Tutoring in presence and by remote

The Delegate, at the Department of Pedagogy, Psychology and Philosophy, has carried out on a weekly basis: group meetings online and in presence with students, recovery of programs and materials for the preparation of exams; management and organisation of meetings between professors and detained students; organisation of individual exams; teaching support to students in alternative measure to detention. 


The Orientation Days that take place annually in the university are also promoted within the Uta and Massama prisons. The coordinators of the courses of study of the university present to the prisoners the degree programs with relative educational objectives and contents of the disciplines, fuelling interest for both science and culture as a driving force of change, with a view to full social inclusion. - About TOLC and registration support - PUP, thanks to the collaboration with the administrative staff of the Administrative Office, has the task of administering the TOLC for enrolment in the courses of study and following the practical aspects of the enrolment for those who have decided to devote the time of detention to university studies.

Finding the right learning method 

In addition to providing support for study activities, the PUP activates meetings with the specialists of the SIA Office (Services for inclusion and learning) with the aim of helping detainees enrolled in the University to identify their own learning style and motivation to study. By using group empowerment techniques, students are made more aware of strategies and the most consistent and effective study method to adopt. The SIA Office also intervenes in PUP activities to overcome learning difficulties and visual disabilities. - Prisoners-professors’ interviews for preparation and passing the exams - Students can follow interviews with professors in anticipation of the exams: this is a valuable opportunity, because it allows the prisoners to develop a greater knowledge of the discipline and carry out exercises in view of the exams. The PUP also organises the necessary arrangements for exam sessions in the prisons.

The University Prison Campus also participates in Sharper Night, the European Researchers’ Night that takes place every year in late September to celebrate and give visibility to the results of university research. 

In 2022, PUP’s participation took the form of an event entitled "Discovering research at UniCa”: on September 29 both the Massama and Uta prisons were involved. In both locations they connected online to DAP (Department of Penitentiary Administration - Ministry of Justice); also, other university prison campus that have promoted similar initiatives took part. 

The event was attended by UniCa’s researchers, who presented their research activities to prisoners as well as to prison workers: this was followed by a debate that involved the whole audience. On 30 September 2022, at the Botanical Garden of Cagliari, the "Research in prison and on prison“ talk was held: participants presented their research projects regarding prison, detention and convicted people.

The series of seminars (which was originally activated back in 2019, and abruptly interrupted in February 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) have been reactivated since December 2022: this series is aimed at Massama and Uta’s prisoners. 

The objective of the seminars is to open a privileged channel between prison and university, creating spaces for cultural stimulation, critical approach, reflection, and interaction with prisoners; another goal is that to raise interest and curiosity towards the scientific world, thus spreading and sharing the academic culture outside the university classrooms. The scheduled talks involve a total of 10 Departments of the University of Cagliari.

As part of the national activities carried out by the CNUPP, the University Prison Campus, represented by the delegate Cristina Cabras, was invested with the coordinating role of the Research Group. Her task included: 

  • 1) to activate a monitoring service of prison research activities within universities that are part of the CNUPP network;
  • 2) to promote the theoretical elaboration and dissemination of the results of empirical research on the issues of imprisonment and penitentiary treatment;
  • 3) to design new research. The Research Group, composed of 20 CNUPP national delegates and around 50 collaborators of the Italian University Prison Campus, meets once a month: the group works to prepare the biennial national monitoring of research activities "in prison and on prison" carried out by the branches of the CNUPP. Furthermore, the Research Group has designed the research "Success factors of the study paths of students enrolled in the University Prison Campus". The Research Group organised webinars on the dissemination of results relating to in prison and on prison research.