Studying with disabilities

In Germany, eleven percent of students in the summer semester of 2016 were restricted in their studies by one or more health impairments. But that should not stop you from realising your future dream. Here you can find useful tips for your studies with disabilities. 

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Did you know …

The Higher Education Framework Act stipulates that universities must ensure that students with disabilities are not disadvantaged in their studies and that they can make use of the services offered by the higher education institution as far as possible without outside help (Chapter 1, Paragraph 2, Section 4, Sentence 2). The regulations from the Higher Education Framework Act were adopted by every federal state. In some cases, additional amendments were made to the State University Law, for example, to waive long-term tuition fees. 

Am I part of it? Students with disabilities.

There are various physical and health impairments that can make your studies more difficult. Among them are many that are not immediately noticeable to outsiders. 

According to a study by the DSW, about two-thirds of the disabilities at German universities go unnoticed if students do not bring them up themselves. 

The following groups of impairments exist: 

  • Mobility impairment  
  • Visual, hearing or speech impairment  
  • Partial performance disorders such as dyslexia or dyscalculia  
  • Chronic illnesses such as rheumatism, Crohn's disease or diabetes  
  • Mental illnesses such as depression 


Statistics on studying with disabilities

In 2011, Studentenwerk published a survey with detailed data on the topic of "studying with disabilities": Around 16,000 students with disabilities or chronic illnesses took part in the survey and provided information on how their disabilities affect the financing and organisation of their studies. Below you will find the key results of the survey: 

Data about impairment

45 per cent of the respondents stated that mental medical conditions such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders or depression affect their studies the most. For 20 per cent of the respondents, a chronic illness makes studying more difficult. About six per cent stated a partial performance disorder as an impairment - these were predominantly dyslexia, dyscalculia or dyslexia. 

Among those affected, a further five per cent are disadvantaged in their studies due to visual impairments, four per cent due to mobility impairments and three per cent due to a hearing or speech impairment. 22 per cent of students with mobility impairments also suffered more often from chronic pain.


Only eight per cent of the students have a severe disability ID card - in most cases students with limited mobility and a visual or hearing impairment. Only in the rarest cases do respondents with mental medical conditions or partial performance disorders have a severe disability ID card.  

Data about counselling services

Only 25 per cent of the students with disabilities responded to counselling offers on disabilities-specific questions, although 60 per cent suffered from severe or very severe constraints and difficulties in their studies. In this context, they took advantage of counselling services  

  • the universities (six per cent),  
  • student services (three per cent) or  
  • student self-administration (two per cent).  

Students with disabilities most frequently approached the psychological counselling centres of the universities and student unions. Students with sensory or mobility impairments turned to the university's disability officer for counselling more often than average. On the other hand, students with mental illnesses mostly - and almost exclusively - went to psychosocial counselling centres. The main topics of counselling for those affected by disability are:  

  • Dealing with one's own impairment   
  • Designing and implementing compensation for disadvantages   
  • Organisation of studies  

As a reason for not using counselling services, one-third of the respondents stated that they had no need. In addition, another third of the students with impairments did not feel addressed by existing counselling services. Almost 50 per cent of those affected refrained from using counselling services to prevent their impairment from becoming known. And almost two-thirds of students with mental medical conditions refrained from personal counselling for the same reason. 

On average, the study time of students with disabilities is extended by several months: when they first enrol, those affected are on average three months younger than their fellow students but complete their studies significantly later. At the time of the survey, those affected were on average already nine months older than the average of their peers. At our university, everyone gets the chance to pursue their education and their journey in their own unique way. We help you immediately and whenever you need us. Your success is our goal. No matter who you are or where you come from - at IU University of Applied Sciences, everyone is supported in achieving their own goals and career dreams. Because here you get education just the way you want it. 

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