Background and enrollment characteristics of students with autism in higher education

Theo Bakker*, L. Krabbendam, Sandjai Bhulai, Sander Begeer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

213 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) entering Universities is growing. Recent studies show an increased understanding of students with ASD in higher education. Yet, current research generally relies on small samples, lacks information about student characteristics prior to enrollment, and does not compare students with ASD to other students. Method: Background and enrollment characteristics of students with ASD (n = 97) were compared to students with other disabilities (OD; n = 2252) and students with no recorded disabilities (ND; n = 24,794) based on administrative data of first-year bachelor enrollments (n = 27,143). Results: From 2010 to 2016 the proportion of students with ASD significantly increased from 0.20% to 0.45%. The characteristics of ASD students at enrollment were similar to other students, but it took ASD students more time to reach higher education compared to ND students, and they were at heightened risk of comorbidity compared to OD students. No difficulties were found with participation in preparatory activities, and goal setting. Conclusions: These quantitative insights are a valuable addition to the more qualitative evidence so far. For parents of children with ASD and individuals with ASD, these findings could help to adjust lower expectations. As this kind of administrative data is available to most institutions in higher education in day-to-day information systems, this study is promising for institutions to gain better insights in the enrollment of their students with ASD, and improve transition support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101424
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in autism spectrum disorders
Early online date1 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Autism
  • Enrollment
  • Higher education
  • Participation in post-secondary education
  • University


Dive into the research topics of 'Background and enrollment characteristics of students with autism in higher education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this