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Compensation for disadvantages

Information about compensation for disadvantages

Legal right
The right of individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses to education on an equal basis and with equal opportunities is anchored in law and was recently reinforced by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the recommendations of the German Rectors’ Conference. Art. 2 (3) of the State Higher Education Act stipulates:



The universities (...) are responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities are not disadvantaged during their studies and that they can take up the offers provided by the university without external assistance as far as possible. (...)”

Accordingly, universities are obligated to provide appropriate offers to support students and prospective students who face disadvantages when applying for a study place and during their studies as a result of a disability or chronic illness.

Needs vary
Support needs may arise in various areas:

  • Application and admission procedure
  • Study and exam conditions
  • Structural barriers

Compensation for disadvantages
The realisation of compensation for disadvantages is tailored to individual needs. (For more information and examples, please refer to the section: What is compensation for disadvantages?)

Compensation for disadvantages ensures equal opportunities Compensation for disadvantages is a way of offsetting disadvantages resulting from chronic illnesses or disabilities. Compensation for disadvantages thus supports the establishment of equal opportunities as described in Art. 2 (3) State Higher Education Act. Compensation for disadvantages varies considerably from person to person as it reflects the specific situation and disability.


Examples of compensation for disadvantages
To enable you to gain an impression of how compensation for disadvantages may be realised, we have listed a few possible scenarios here:

  • Extra time to complete written exams and term papers
  • Changes to the form of exams
  • Alternative assessments where exam formats cannot be realised
  • Expansion of the study programme (e.g. fewer classes and exams per semester)
  • Utilisation of technical aids or assistance in exams
  • Separate exam rooms (e.g. in small groups or low-stimulus rooms)
  • Hardship case regulations, e.g. with regard to the duration of support payments under the Federal Training Assistance Act (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz – BAföG)
  • ...

The website of the German National Association for Student Affairs (Studentenwerk) provides further examples of compensation for disadvantages within the framework of the organisation and realisation of studies and exams and course certificates (German only).

The Studentenwerk organisation also provides an overview, answers questions and offers suggestions in its Handbook on “Studies and Disabilities” (Chapter VI: Compensation for disadvantages within the framework of studies and exams. German only!).

Important note:
Compensation for disadvantages must be applied for in advance! You are welcome to contact us for assistance.

Health issues and disabilities occur in many forms. Some are visible, yet many remain invisible even though the sufferers have to deal with the effects every day. These include, for example, chronic intestinal disorders such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, dyslexia and dyscalculia, autism or psychological illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders. The manner in which a disability manifests itself and the ways in which those affected are at a disadvantage in their studies varies greatly from person to person.

In principle, the following applies: Compensation for disadvantages is available to all students with disabilities.

However, some details must be observed in order to obtain compensation for disadvantages. Before sending your application, it is helpful to clarify the extent to which compensation for disadvantages can positively impact studies and which documents are required. This is why we recommend

You can find more information on the website of the Studentenwerk organisation: “Studying with a disability – do I belong?”

General points on the process
In order to be granted compensation for disadvantages, you need to submit an application, which must then be approved by the examinations office.

In order to apply for compensation for disadvantages, a specialist doctor or psychotherapist must provide a medical certificate confirming the disability or chronic illness that results in a disadvantage. In addition, the chronic nature of the condition, i.e. it lasts more than six months, must also be proven.

Before applying for compensation for disadvantages, we recommend a consultation at the Counselling Centre of the Commissioner for Students with Disabilities or Chronic Illnesses. Ms Schmidt and Professor Dietrich would be pleased to support you with their specialist knowledge, experience and official statements, as well as in a mediation capacity where necessary. Together we can clarify your support needs and how to implement solutions at HHU. You are welcome to contact us to arrange an appointment or simply come to an open consultation session.

We also recommend clarifying support options in a personal dialogue with lecturers in a first step as far as possible – they will do their best to support you in your studies. Please get in touch as early as possible, as lecturers and the examinations offices need sufficient time to implement and organise the framework conditions (e.g. location and invigilation).

We also recommend that you apply for compensation for disadvantages at the start of the semester as far as possible to ensure sufficient time for processing and realisation of the application.

Application for compensation for disadvantages
You can find the application forms, etc. for compensation for disadvantages on these pages (German only).

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