Businesses invited to unlock potential of neurodiverse talent

The University of Leicester is encouraging local businesses and organisations to help unlock the potential of autistic students and graduates.

The University is part of the Employ Autism Higher Education Network – a ground-breaking higher education employability programme run by Santander through Santander Universities UK, and the charity Ambitious about Autism – which allows autistic students and graduates to access paid internships and tailored careers support and advice.

Now, the University is calling on business and organisations from across the region to boost diversity within their own workplaces through six-week internships (to commence June 2021), fully-funded by the Employ Autism scheme.

Latest research has found that autistic graduates are the least likely of all disabled students to find employment following their studies – with only 33% in full-time work.

This new programme aims to tackle this issue by ensuring more autistic students and graduates have access to meaningful employment experience. It will also ensure local businesses can benefit from neurodiverse talent within their workforces.

Rob Fryer, Director of Student Opportunities from the University of Leicester, said:

“Research evidences that autistic university students do not gain work experience in line with their peers. This project aims to address this gap by providing dedicated support to encourage students to prepare, apply, successfully complete and reflect on their work experience in order to help them transition into their next step after University”.

During the wider 18-month programme, careers and employability professionals at University of Leicester will receive specialist training and support from Ambitious about Autism to work specifically with autistic students, helping to guide them into sustainable employment.

Working with professionals who understand their needs, students will receive support to identify roles that match their skills and given help with the application and recruitment process, which often needs to be adapted to allow autistic young people to shine.

Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said:

“Autistic students and graduates are among our brightest talents and yet too many face a much more challenging path into long-term employment than their neurotypical peers.

“By joining our programme, the University of Leicester will be at the forefront of the drive to increase the neurodiversity of the UK workforce and will also be helping to change the lives of autistic people.”

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK said:

“Santander is committed to supporting students from diverse backgrounds into university, work and self-employment so we’re pleased to join forces with Ambitious about Autism and a number of our university partners to launch this pioneering new programme.

“By working together, we hope to improve employment outcomes for autistic students and graduates by providing life changing opportunities.”

The University of Leicester is actively seeking employer partners that are able to offer a six-week fully-funded internship for students commencing this summer.

Full training and support will be provided to employers by Ambitious about Autism, at zero cost to the organisation. If you would like to learn more, please click here or contact Emma Bagley, Graduate Outcomes Manager, directly on