University experience helps to build confidence of graduate with Autism


A Leeds Trinity student is graduating today with a degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences having overcome personal challenges related to his Autism.

Male with short dark hair smiles for camera.

James Knight, 21, is Autistic and chose Leeds Trinity University as his first choice because its small and intimate campus catered to his needs better than other universities he had visited.

Whilst completing his degree, James also joined the Leeds Trinity basketball team and became involved in University life as a student ambassador, working at Open Days and other University events, which built his confidence and enabled him to grow as a person.

Before joining Leeds Trinity, James completed a Nuffield Research Placement with Professor Mark Russell, who works in the University’s School of Health, Sport and Life Sciences. This gave James an insight into learning at Leeds Trinity and drew him to the University, in addition to the content of the Sport and Exercise Sciences course which allowed him to specialise in particular modules.

James had ambitions to qualify as a sports coach or nutritionist after university, but having completed his degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences, he now has dreams of becoming a sport scientist or returning to education in the future.

James said: “Originally, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I came to university to find a path for me, now I have found my path.

“University has helped increase my confidence around new people and has helped me understand and control different areas of my Autism that I previously had trouble with – for example, living independently.

“All Leeds Trinity staff that have taught me have helped me to fulfil my potential and helped me deal with the struggles of university life. I have enjoyed the whole university experience and being able to be myself, learn what it’s like being an adult and being able to make new friends and share memories with them.”

Danielle Davis, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at Leeds Trinity University, said: “James has been an enthusiastic student since he began at Leeds Trinity. Throughout his studies he has engaged with every opportunity that has been presented to him, whether academic or general university activities.

“Prior to starting his course, James also undertook a summer placement under Professor Mark Russell and Dr Sam Hills in which he assisted with a research project, developing key skills that have served him well during his degree and inspired his ambitions for the future. We are very proud of what James has achieved.”

Leeds Trinity University recently achieved an overall student satisfaction score of 80% in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2022 results, making it joint top in Yorkshire and the Humber and joint 25th in the UK for this measure.

The NSS 2022 results follow the recent publication of the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Graduate Outcomes survey. This places Leeds Trinity University top in Yorkshire for employability, and 15th in the UK, with 97% of its graduates in employment or further study within 15 months of finishing their studies.

Find out more about the Sport and Exercise Sciences course on the Leeds Trinity University website.