This study sought to describe factors impacting the success of students with ASD in university programmes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather both the students’ personal perspectives of their university experience and the perspectives of a significant person in their life. An interpretative phenomenological approach was utilised to ascertain common factors that contributed or posed a barrier to students experiencing success in their studies. Findings revealed that students with ASD felt their internal influences of determination, perseverance and passion in their areas of academic interests, greatly impacted on their ability to achieve successful outcomes in university, but these factors were always mitigated by the degree to which they experienced anxiety, depression and isolation. Participants also highlighted the importance of mediating factors in helping them to manage their social–emotional needs so they could pursue their interests and achieve success in university programmes.