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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

'It's Affecting My Ability to Do the Research Degree': Improving Facilities for People with Autism on University Campuses

Comparative Perspective
Survey Research
Ken Searle
University of Birmingham
Ken Searle
University of Birmingham

Last academic year, a research project was undertaken in the Education Department at the University of Birmingham in order to ascertain the difficulties faced by students in Higher Education with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), regarding both their studies and experiences of University life in general, specifically taking into account the manner that they found themselves alienated in comparison to their neurotypical peers. In order to glean a full understanding, one-to-one interviews were undertaken with students with ASD at the beginning, middle and end of the year to take into account their progress. Following these interviews, the key points raised by respondents were discussed at greater length within focus groups, carried out through online software. Through this qualitative method of research gathering, the research team was thus able to gain an understanding both of the key issues affecting students with ASD over the academic year as a whole, and have several points to ensure a more inclusive teaching practice at the University of Birmingham, with further recommendations to Higher Education more broadly. Equally, we were able to acknowledge the varying pressures on students with ASD that had different needs, for example regarding distance learning, additional health conditions and sexuality, which were not sufficiently clear to the University of Birmingham. Additionally to reflecting on the findings of the study and best methods of enacting the conclusions drawn, this presentation also considers the merits of the research process used, and how it enabled the research team – who themselves were staff and students at the University of Birmingham with ASD – to understand the concerns experienced by respondents.
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