Information about disability compensation

Requests for disability compensation may be made by students who are unable to complete coursework or examinations in the required form owing to a disability or chronic illness (they must, however, be generally capable of completing such coursework or examinations).


Disabilities or chronic illnesses may place students at a disadvantage when it comes to completing coursework or examinations. The aim of disability compensation is to correct these disadvantages by modifying the coursework and examinations to be taken. Such modifications may relate to the type, form or, where appropriate, the content of coursework or examinations (see also: What support can be given to the students concerned?).

Disability compensation may not have any effect on the assessment of coursework or examinations; no mention of disadvantage compensation is made in students’ certificates. Disability compensation enables coursework or examinations to be modified, but it does not lower performance expectations. It therefore has nothing to do with favouring students.

Disability compensation request form (GER)
PDF, 321 KB


  • Who is eligible for disability compensation?

    Students whose impairments fall under the consistent definition of the term “disability” (Section 2(1) of Social Insurance Code IX) are legally entitled to disability compensation:

    “People are disabled if their physical functions, intellectual abilities or mental health have a high probability of differing from the typical state for their age for longer than six months and if, as a consequence, their participation in society is impaired. [...]

    Although dyslexia is not a disease, students with this condition may also request disability compensation. A psychological report issued no longer than two years ago must be presented as a supporting document.

  • Must evidence of entitlement to disadvantage compensation be provided?

    Evidence of entitlement to disadvantage compensation must be provided. This evidence may take the form of a disabled pass (if study-related disadvantages are discernible from the pass without having to provide any additional evidence) or a medical certificate issued by a specialist and/or a medical certificate issued by an approved therapist justifying and supporting disability compensation.

  • How can students request disability compensation, and who decides whether the request is permissible?

    Requests are addressed to the Chair of the Examination Committee. The Examination Committee decides whether the request can be granted, and informs the Examination Office of its decision. The Examination Office then informs the student of the decision in writing.

    It goes without saying that the Examination Committee and the Examination Office are bound to secrecy; they will not inform anyone of students being granted disability compensation. Students must then inform their examiners, lab managers or field trip leaders of the modified examination or study conditions in good time.

  • Are there any tips on requesting disability compensation?
      1. Reflection: Think about any past experience you have of being disadvantaged in study or examination situations owing to health issues, or where it is known that such a disadvantage exists
      2. Use the template: Download, save and open the request form.
      3. Describe the nature of the disadvantage: Diagnosis, medical history and prognosis are of no relevance to disability compensation and need not be disclosed under any circumstances, although, of course, the type of disability compensation may enable conclusions to be drawn about the cause.
      4. Describe what has to be changed to correct the disadvantage: Disadvantage compensation must provide a specific description of the type and nature of compensation. For example, “25% more time” rather than “more time for written examinations”
      5. In the case of invisible constraints: Enclose a medical certificate issued by a specialist confirming precisely this disadvantage and the suggested compensatory measures. This is important. It is not enough to simply communicate a diagnosis (which, moreover, need not even be mentioned). In the case of mental illness, the medical certificate may also be issued by a therapist. It is not necessary to obtain an expert opinion from a public health officer.
      6. Disability: If, in the case of disability, the student’s study-related disadvantage is discernible from his or her disabled pass without having to provide any additional evidence, a copy of the disabled pass will suffice.
      7. Sending the request: The request must be sent together with the medical certificate to the Chair of the Examination Committee, which will review the request.
  • From which laws is entitlement to disability compensation derived?
    •  Basic Law:
      • Article 3: No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions. No person shall be disfavoured because of disability.
      • Article 12(1): All Germans shall have the right freely to choose their occupation or profession, their place of work and their place of training. The practice of an occupation or profession may be regulated by or pursuant to a law.
      • (2) No person may be required to perform work of a particular kind except within the framework of a traditional duty of community service that applies generally and equally to all.
    • Lower Saxony Higher Education Act (NHG):
      • Section 3(1)(7): [The functions of higher education institutions are] to participate in the social advancement of students, taking into account the special needs of students with children and of disabled students, whereby higher education institutions shall ensure that disabled students are not disadvantaged in their studies and that the services provided by the higher education institution can be utilised, preferably independently.
  • What support can be given to the students concerned?

    No definitive statements on the form of disability compensation and examination modifications can or should be made. In any case, consideration must be given to the individual situation of the students concerned and to the particularities of the subject, under the aspect of fairness for all candidates.

    The following examples may be used as a basis for decisions or as food for thought:

      • More time
        This may mean more time allotted for completing written examinations, including breaks, or for completing term papers and presentations.
      • Individual arrangement of dates for written examinations and term papers
      • Permission of compensatory or substitute performances
        For example, written work may compensate for periods of absence or if the student is unable to complete academic assignments requiring full mobility (e.g. field trips, field visits). It may be appropriate to modify the examination content when the examination refers to previous coursework that the student was unable to complete due to illness
      • Permission to take written examinations instead of oral examinations, and vice versa
      • Withdrawal from the performance recording process outside the prescribed periods
        Where there are serious grounds for such withdrawal, e.g. an additional illness, situations of particular stress, the loss of assistance.
      • Provision or permission of technical aids or support workers
        Examples of technical aids include computers for visually impaired students and workstations for wheelchair users. Support work may be provided by an amanuensis (scribe) outside the discipline, for instance.

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Student Advisory Services
Student Advisory Services
Student Advisory Services
Christiane Stolz
Representative for Students with Disabilities
Welfengarten 1
30167 Hannover
Christiane Stolz
Representative for Students with Disabilities
Welfengarten 1
30167 Hannover