Cage E, De Andres M & Mahoney P (2020) Understanding the factors that affect university completion for autistic people. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 72, Art. No.: 101519. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2020.101519
Background: Autistic individuals may be less likely to complete their university studies, but there is no research to date that examines why this is the case. This study thus examined the factors that may affect university completion for autistic people.
Method: Two-hundred and thirty autistic people who had attended university completed an online survey, whereby 151 had graduated on their first attempt, 34 graduated after several attempts, and 45 had not completed. Participants answered questions regarding the transition to university, academic and social experiences, diagnosis, mental wellbeing and sensory sensitivities.
Results: Those who did not complete had a poorer academic experience, found the transition more difficult, and felt less organisational and social identification at university. Logistic regression suggested the transition to university is particularly important in predicting non-completion.
Conclusions: Finding the transition challenging and struggling with academic and social aspects may contribute to the risk of dropping-out. The study has implications for universities, who must ensure all autistic students are able to achieve their full academic potential by providing appropriate transition support, fostering a sense of community at university and ensuring staff are appropriately trained.
Higher education; autistic students; non-completion; dropout
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Volume 72