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Meeting the needs of neurodivergent students

Created in collaboration with a student-led organisation, 'An asset, not a problem: Meeting the needs of neurodivergent students' is a new report into the experience of students and applicants who are autistic and/or have ADHD. 

With a focus on the transition to university and day-to-day living in student accommodation, the report uses the words of students from Bristol University Neurodiversity Society (BUNS) to articulate their needs and make recommendations about how they could be better supported at university.

What the report tells us

The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 university applicants across the UK, as well as a focus group with neurodivergent students currently studying at University of Bristol.

14% +

of current university applicants report having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or are autistic.


of respondents have experienced depression recently.


have experienced anxiety in the last two years.

Being neurodivergent: A lot of people just fail to understand that every day, every second, we are living in a world that was not made for us. It was made for a different sensory processing system. It’s like navigating when you are a bit drunk, you are trying to comprehend things that don’t make sense, but something that makes sense to you doesn’t make sense to others.

Download the report

Find out more

Unite Students' new report on neurodivergent students

Findings from the applicant survey

The survey covered a wide range of questions relating to the academic and non-academic experience. Survey questions focused on expectations and levels of confidence about different aspects of university, personal characteristics, social and well-being experiences, and the experience of applying to university.

See page: 6-8

Findings from the focus group

The focus group brought the quantitative data to life through a detailed discussion about the process of going to university and applying for student accommodation. Some of the participants had not known about their neurodivergence prior to going to university, so the qualitative data provides a broader perspective than the quantitative data. It also offers insight into the actual process of settling in, making social connections and the experience of living in student accommodation as a neurodivergent student.

See page: 9-15


Recommendations were generated by the focus group when reflecting on their own experiences. These mainly cover the first year of the university experience but could be applied to future years of study, particularly if students remain living in student halls.

See page: 16-17