Do you have health problems? Are you interested in studying at Leipzig University or are you already studying and have questions about rules on cases of hardship, compensation for disadvantages, organising your studies or the payment of tuition fees as a long-term student? This page contains initial information and contact details.

Eine Hand fährt über taktile Beschriftungen auf dem Campus der Universität Leipzig
Tactile wall on the Augustusplatz campus. Photo: Swen Reichhold

Legal foundations

Studying with a disability or chronic illness can pose a number of challenges. You may find yourself at a disadvantage as a result of your health problem. In order to compensate for these disadvantages, as a student with a health problem you are entitled to individual “compensation for disadvantages”. Such compensation is known in German as a Nachteilsausgleich.

Take advantage of your right to equal opportunities at university. Many study and examination regulations prescribe strict programme structures. Having a health problem may mean that you are unable to comply with certain deadlines and other formal requirements.

Compensation for disadvantages can help you in such situations. This system is not intended to patronise, but should instead ensure equal opportunities.

Overview of relevant laws on the subject of compensating for disadvantages

  • Basic Law (GG)
    The constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, known as the Basic Law in English, already establishes the basis for the right of students with disabilities and chronic illnesses to equal opportunities when studying. “All persons shall be equal before the law. [...] No person shall be disfavoured because of disability.” (Article 3 GG) “The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social federal state.” (Article 20 GG)
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
    DBy ratifying the UNCRPD in 2009, Germany committed itself to implementing the contents of this convention. Article 24 refers to the right to inclusive education and the right to lifelong learning, and this also applies to higher education. “States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. [...] States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system [...] directed to [...] The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential.” (Article 24(1)(b) UNCRPD)
  • General Act on Higher Education (HRG)
    The General Act on Higher Education forms the basis of higher education law in Germany. “Higher education institutions contribute to the social promotion of students. [...]. They ensure that disabled students are not disadvantaged in their studies and that they can make use of the institutional offers without outside help.” (Section 2(4) HRG) “Examination regulations must consider the special interests of disabled students to ensure equal opportunities.” (Section 16 Sentence 4 HRG)
  • Saxon Freedom of Higher Education Act (SächsHSFG)
    The Saxon Freedom of Higher Education Act sets out the rights and obligations of higher education institutions at state level. “In particular, higher education institutions have the following tasks: they ensure that students with disabilities or chronic illnesses are not disadvantaged in their studies and that they can make use of the institutional offers without outside help wherever possible.” (Section 5(2) No. 12 SächsHSFG) “Examination regulations must [...] establish provisions that promote equal opportunities for students with disabilities and chronic illnesses.” (Section 34(3) SächsHSFG)

Compensation for disadvantages

Students with long-term health problems are entitled to compensation for disadvantages. Compensations for disadvantages are designed to make up for inequalities resulting from someone’s individual circumstances. They address the consequences of the problem, and not the problem itself. This ensures equal opportunities for participation in studies and examinations. Examples of compensations for disadvantages include adapted examination styles, additional time for exams, and the use of technical aids.

Recognition of hardship cases

Two to three per cent of study places are reserved for applicants with health problems. To be eligible for such a place, one precondition is that rejecting your application for admission to a course of study would constitute an exceptional hardship. You can request the recognition of such a hardship case, for example, if you have an illness which is likely to worsen or if your health problem restricts your ability to choose or practise a profession.

When applying for admission to Leipzig University, you will also need to submit a special request to have your hardship case recognised. You must enclose a report by a medical specialist which explains the hardship case in a manner comprehensible to laypersons.

When allocating places based on hardship cases, it cannot be guaranteed that all applicants will be offered a study place. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of hardship case places available, admission will be offered on the basis of the degree of exceptional hardship.

When allocating study places under rules governing hardship cases and compensation for disadvantages, Leipzig University follows the guidelines of (in German).

Compensation for disadvantages when applying: Improving your average grade

If special health-related circumstances (e.g. long periods of absence due to hospitalisation) prevented you from achieving a higher average grade when you obtained your higher education entrance qualification, then you can request an improvement of your average grade.

To prove this drop in your performance, you will need an expert opinion from your school which explains the extent to which your school results suffered. An individual assessment must be made for each relevant subject. This assessment is used to calculate a new average grade with which you then participate in the allocation procedure.

Compensation for disadvantages when applying: Improving your waiting time

If you were delayed in acquiring your higher education entrance qualification, then you can request an improvement of your waiting time. This is subject to you providing reasons for which you are not responsible. To do this, you will need suitable evidence to prove the delay. If, for example, you repeated a year at school due to illness, it is possible to have to semesters added to your waiting time.

When allocating study places under rules governing hardship cases and compensation for disadvantages, Leipzig University follows the guidelines of (in German).

Aptitude test

Does your course of studies require you to take an aptitude test? You can also claim compensation for disadvantages for this test. To be eligible, it is essential that the consequences of your impairment mean that you are at a disadvantage compared to your fellow applicants when taking the aptitude test.

Please check with the relevant faculty well in advance of the test to find out about the possibilities for compensation in your case.

Requesting compensation for disadvantages

To be able to claim compensation for disadvantages during your studies or examinations, you must submit an informal written application to the relevant examination board. In it, you must describe the consequences of your impairment – without necessarily mentioning the diagnosis. You will also need to make a suggestion as to what form compensation for disadvantages might be appropriate in your case. Please enclose a medical certificate detailing your health impairment with your request. You should submit your request as early as possible (four to six weeks in advance). When submitting your request, please bear in mind that it may take some time for us to examine your request and make any necessary enquiries.

If you are granted compensation for disadvantages – either for your studies or for examinations – because of your health impairment, then the University is not permitted to mention this in your certificates.

Form for requesting compensation for disadvantages

We provide a form to make it easier for you to formulate your request for compensation for disadvantages. Please submit the completed form to your examination board in good time.

It is also possible to submit applications without using this form. However, please use the request form as a guide.

Compensation for disadvantages request form
PDF ∙ 90 KB

Suitable evidence

You will need suitable evidence when requesting compensation for disadvantages. You have the following options:

  • Medical specialist’s certificate with your diagnosis
  • Medical specialist’s certificate without your diagnosis. To be eligible for compensation for disadvantages, it is sufficient to detail the impact that your health impairment will have on your studies or examinations.
  • Statement of the Senate Commissioner for Students with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses. Would you rather not have your exact diagnosis made known to the examination board? Do you have specialist medical documents with a precise diagnosis and no way of obtaining a redacted medical certificate at short notice? Come with your specialist medical documents for a personal consultation. We will then use your documents to prepare a statement which explains the impact of your health impairment on your studies or examinations. This will not mention your diagnosis. You can enclose this statement as sole proof when submitting your request for compensation for disadvantages.

Non-university examinations

Do you require a compensation for disadvantages for exams that are not organised by Leipzig University? You will need to apply for this at the state examination authority. This includes examinations at state level for the following degree programmes:

Teacher training degrees | Law | Medicine | Dentistry | Veterinary Medicine | Pharmacy

These applications must be submitted well in advance and usually take longer to process than at Leipzig University. You may also require time to be able to appeal a decision.

Studying more than one subject

Are you studying more than one subject at once, for example as part of a teacher training degree? Please note that requests for compensation for disadvantages must be submitted to the relevant subject examination boards.

A compensation for disadvantages is not a benefit

Compensations for disadvantages are not benefits. They are designed to offset individual disadvantages resulting from a person’s health problem. Of crucial importance here are the effects of the disability or chronic illness on the applicant’s ability to study and sit examinations. The diagnosis or the degree of disability is not crucial in itself. Compensations for disadvantages are granted in the case of illnesses or disabilities which make it more difficult to demonstrate the person’s existing capabilities.

To use the disabled toilets at Leipzig University, you will need what’s known as a Eurokey. If you don’t already own a Eurokey, you can order one from CBF Darmstadt at a price of 20 euros. The charity’s website provides an overview (in German) of who is entitled to purchase a key.

You can borrow a Eurokey from Leipzig University’s Equal Opportunities Office on a temporary basis, for example if you have ordered your own key and are awaiting its arrival.

Our university does not electronically record data on the health impairments of its students. For this reason, the number of students with health problems at Leipzig is not known. If you are awarded a study place as part of the hardship case quota or if you are granted compensation for disadvantage during your studies or in examinations, this will not be noted in the system. There will be no mention of any compensation for disadvantage on your degree certificate or in your Transcript of Records.

All our consultations are strictly private. We are bound by a duty of confidentiality. This can only be lifted with your express consent if you allow us to disclose your confidential information to certain institutions.

Did you enrol at Leipzig University in or since the summer semester 2013? Have you already exceeded the standard period of study specified in your examination regulations by at least four semesters? Then as a long-term student, you are required to pay tuition fees. These fees are 500 euros per semester; you have to pay them each semester in addition to your semester fee.

On written application, Leipzig University can waive this fee in certain cases or allow you to pay in instalments or defer the payment. For this purpose, you must submit the relevant applications to the Student Office by the corresponding deadline together with the documents listed in the form.

Leipzig University Library offers a variety of support options for students with health impairments. Please contact Ms Lucia Hacker for further information. You can get in touch with her by email. General information about accessibility is available on the library website.

There is a special form for ordering accessible literature. In it you can indicate your individual requirements for the literature requested.

Many degree programmes have fixed requirements with regard to programme structure. Students with disabilities and chronic illnesses often require more flexibility when planning their studies.

A special study plan should be agreed with the responsible examination office and recorded in writing. It is important to make sure that the elements of the curriculum taken at any one time complement each other effectively, and that they can still be taken in the planned order. If there are further delays in your studies due to disability or chronic illness, this should be discussed as soon as possible. The special study plan can then be adjusted. Another advantage of a special study plan compared to regular part-time studies is the possibility of continued entitlement to BAföG funding.

It is possible to study certain degree programmes part-time due to disability or chronic illness. The requirements for part-time studies are set forth in these cross-faculty regulations (in German). These regulations are published in the Official Announcements on the University’s website. Please also note the specific provisions of your degree programme’s study regulations. These must explicitly state the option of part-time studies. This extends the standard period of study accordingly. It is possible to change from one form to the other, but this should be discussed with the Student Office. For example, part-time studies can be a good way of returning to normal student life after a long period of illness. The advantage here over having an individual special study plan is that organising your studies is usually less complicated. However, it is harder to address the individual’s ability to work as directly as with a special study plan.

Upon request, it is possible to officially interrupt your studies if you have legitimate reasons. In you request, you must specify a reason for leave and, if necessary, prove it. Leave semesters do not count towards the standard period of study. These semesters are therefore regarded as semesters enrolled at the University, but not as semesters of study on your degree programme. During a leave semester, the University should make it possible for students to take part in studies and examinations. However, the University is not obliged to do so. Before beginning a leave semester, you should therefore contact your examination office to discuss which parts of your course it will and will not be possible to complete.

IMPORTANT: If your receive the German unemployment benefit ALG II during your leave semester, you will not be allowed to complete any part of your degree programme and must discontinue your studies completely.

Please also note that you will not be entitled to BAföG funding during your leave semester.

In the Seminargebäude, room S 013, the University offers blind and partially sighted students workstations with a variety of special equipment. For further information please contact Ms Martina Koch. You can send her an email to make an appointment for an introduction to this equipment.

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