Fear of Stigmatisation among Students with Disabilities in Austria

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Fear of Stigmatisation among Students with Disabilities in Austria


  • Sarah Zaussinger Higher Education Research Group, Institute for Advanced Studies, Austria
  • Berta Terzieva Higher Education Research Group, Institute for Advanced Studies, Austria


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Abstract:  In Austria, 12% of all students in higher education report a disability that, at least somewhat, limits their study activities. As they still face many barriers throughout their studies, support services play a key part in their academic success. However, data from the Austrian Student Social Survey demonstrate that every second student with a disability is reluctant to contact fellow students, lecturers, or institutional support in case of study-related difficulties. One in four students with disabilities does not seek any assistance because of stigmatisation fear. With respect to these tendencies, our article examines factors that promote or inhibit the reluctance of students with disabilities to seek support due to fear of stigmatisation. For this purpose, we construct a binary indicator of stigma fear, which encompasses items concerning social isolation or drawbacks to academic opportunities, inhibitions about contacting people or disclosing one’s disability. In a regression model, we identify influential factors such as noticeability of disability and degree of study-related limitations as well as social factors like the feeling of anonymity and sense of belonging.

Keywords:  Austria; disability; health impairment; higher education; stigma; student survey; support services

Published:   6 December 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i4.1667


© Sarah Zaussinger, Berta Terzieva. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.