Document Type




Publication Details

Thesis submitted to Technological University Dublin in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Masters (M.Sc.) in Education (Digital Innovator), July 2022.


A focus on widening access and participation in Higher Education has resulted in increased numbers of tertiary students with hidden disabilities in recent decades, globally. While academic supports at an institutional level are available for this student population, issues are reported with them consistently, which often leads to their non-utilisation. This is one possible explanation for why these students experience inequitable academic circumstances compared to their peers concerning lower grades and welfare levels, and higher withdrawal and failure rates. There is a paucity of research available on adequate accommodations that support the academic success of students with hidden disabilities in Higher Education. In addition, few studies focus on how alternative tools such as online learning methods could be of use. This study addresses these gaps in the literature. Quantitative and qualitative research methods were employed in the form of an online questionnaire and in-depth, semi-structured follow-on interviews to explore how to support students with hidden disabilities in Higher Education from their perspectives. The form was completed by 22 respondents with different conditions, of whom 2 were in a control group. In addition, the interviews were conducted online with two students who had several different conditions, diagnostic statuses, and disability registration statuses. Questions centred on perceptions of online learning tools, on-campus classes, and disability support services, through the lens of academic compatibility, hidden- disability compatibility, and welfare. Analysis of the results leads to the conclusion that the most suitable curriculum for students with hidden disabilities is flexible, and affords them online and on-campus learning options in addition to accommodations. It is recommended that staff in third-level institutions receive more training concerning how best to accommodate this student population, and, in addition, designated online learning staff with specialist training could be employed.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.