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ADCET Webinar: Autistic Students and the Transition to University - Findings and Recommendations

Autistic students are increasingly enrolling in higher education. However, their completion rates remain lower than that of their peers both with and without disability. We also know that the first year of university is critical for enabling successful university experiences for all students, with negative first year experiences resulting in negative impacts for students and universities alike. For autistic students this transition can be particularly challenging.

What can universities do to improve the transition experiences of autistic students and therefore provide them with the best opportunities for university success?

This webinar addressed this question, by presenting the findings and recommendations of Alison Nuske’s PhD project which explored the experiences of autistic students during their transition to, and first year of university in Australia. This webinar provided insight into the experiences of autistic students, and practical recommendations for improving the transition experience for autistic students.


  1. Implement strategies that support autistic students to develop skills in help-seeking and disclosure.
  2. Develop and promote resources which inform family members about students’ rights and responsibilities at university.
  3. Implement strategies that are responsive to the potentially disrupted transition experiences of autistic students.
  4. Implement and promote mechanisms which enable autistic students to identify a family member or support worker as a key contact or advocate.
  5. Implement and promote strategies which enable early engagement of prospective autistic students with relevant university disability or equity services.
  6. Ensure university disability and equity services are adequately funded and resourced to provide early and ongoing funding to support the transition needs of autistic university students.
  7. Implement strategies which support the attendance, participation, and inclusion of autistic students at orientation programs.
  8. Create an inclusive and welcoming campus culture, which celebrates neurodiversity and encourages autistic students to embrace their autistic identity.
  9. Adopt Universal Design for Learning approaches and inclusive teaching and learning practices.
  10. Develop and implement transition strategies which support a holistic approach to orientation and transition, such as the Five Senses of Success model.


Alison smiling with mid-length red hair and glasses

Alison Nuske is a recent PhD graduate and autistic autism researcher at Flinders University in South Australia. Alison has over 20 years’ experience in the disability field and has worked in various roles supporting autistic students in primary, secondary, and tertiary education settings. In addition to working as an Access and Inclusion Advisor at the University of South Australia for almost 10 years, she has also taught undergraduate and postgraduate topics in autism, technology and disability, and transition to adulthood.

Alison is passionate about improving the inclusion of neurodivergent students in higher education, by promoting knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of neurodivergence.

(April 2024)

ADCET is hosted by the University of Tasmania