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Swansea University joins forces with Gower College to help autistic students

Swansea University and Gower College Swansea have teamed up to support students with autistic spectrum conditions as they prepare to make the transition from college to university.

They are collaborating on a year-long research project to investigate potential challenges that these students experience when making the change from further education to higher education.

Led by student support officer Dr Mohammed Qasim, learner support coordinator Ceri Low and autism spectrum condition practitioner and PhD student Heather Pickard-Hengstenberg, the study included in-depth interviews that sought to identify the challenges students experience when transitioning to university and the development of suitable support networks.

Dr Qasim said:  “Our partnership will ensure that we work together to better support students with autism as research has found that they have struggled with the transition from college to university for far too long.

“We have now been invited to speak to AMs and we also intend to share our research findings with other further education colleges.”

Mrs Pickard-Hengstenberg added: “The Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) service at Swansea University is excited to be working closely with Gower College Swansea. As part of my PhD, I had the privilege of interviewing some wonderful college students and this qualitative study allowed us to identify the specific support needs that this unique group of individuals have prior to starting university.

“The partnership is a step forward in providing vital early support interventions that will enable students to successfully continue their educational journey into university.”

Gareth Bromhall, who has ASC and is studying for a Master’s degree at Swansea University Medical School, said:

“Going from college to university is a big step and it is brilliant that ASC students will be getting the support they need to make the move and thrive at the next step of their education. Swansea has been excellent in supporting me.”