Students with disabilities and chronic illnesses often have to fight for disadvantage compensation and support. In this context, regulations under social law and higher education law are particularly relevant. Only those who can prove that they have a disability and the resulting disadvantages can receive compensation for disadvantages. The right of disabled people to equal opportunities to participate in higher education is enshrined in many laws But who is actually "disabled"?
Federal Disability Equality Act
§ 3 People with disabilities
Persons with disabilities within the meaning of this Act are persons who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with attitudinal and environmental barriers, may prevent them from participating in society on an equal basis with others. Long-term is defined as a period that is likely to last longer than six months.
Disability equality laws of the federal states
The disability equality laws of the federal states are predominantly based on the definition of disability in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or the Federal Disability Equality Act.
Social Security Code 9th Book
§2 (1) SGB IX
People with disabilities are those who have physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with attitudinal and environmental barriers, are likely to prevent them from participating in society on an equal basis for longer than six months. An impairment according to sentence 1 exists if the physical and health condition deviates from the condition typical for the person's age. People are at risk of disability if an impairment according to sentence 1 is to be expected.
§ 2 (2) SGB IX
People are severely disabled within the meaning of Part 3 (of Book IX of the Social Code) if they have a degree of disability of at least 50 and their place of residence, habitual abode or employment in a job within the meaning of Section 156 is lawfully within the scope of this Code.
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has also been ratified by the Federal Republic of Germany, has further developed the concept of disability and, in line with the guiding principle "We are not disabled, we are being disabled", places greater focus on social barriers:
Article 1 and Preamble of the UN CRPD
Persons with disabilities include people who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers (meaning: attitudinal and environmental), may prevent them from participating fully, effectively and equally in society.
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD)
The UN CRPD puts human rights into concrete terms for the living situation of disabled people with the aim of enabling them to participate or take part in social life on an equal footing. Important keywords are: Accessibility, equal opportunities and non-discrimination. Inclusive education is the subject of Article 24.
- Article 24 (5) UN CRPD "States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities have access, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, to general higher education, vocational education and training, adult education and lifelong learning. To this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided for persons with disabilities."
The German Institute for Human Rights is home to the Monitoring Body, which monitors the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Germany. The federal government and a number of states have now developed action plans to implement the UN CRPD, which also include the higher education sector.
Basic Law (GG)
A right to compensation for disadvantages for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses arises from the principle of equality, the prohibition of discrimination and the principle of the welfare state in the Basic Law.
- Article 3 (1) and (3) sentence 2 Basic Law (GG) (1) "All persons are equal before the law." (3) "No one may be disadvantaged because of his or her disability."
- Article 20 GG "The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social federal state."
Higher Education Framework Act (HRG)
The Higher Education Framework Act obligates state and state-recognized institutions of higher education to ensure equal opportunity participation for students with disabilities. The right to modified study and examination conditions is also explicitly enshrined.
- § 2 para. 4 sentence 2 HRG "They* shall ensure that disabled students are not disadvantaged in their studies and can make use of the offers of the higher education institution as far as possible without outside assistance." (*meaning the universities)
- §Section 16 sentence 4 HRG "Examination regulations must take into account the special needs of disabled students in order to maintain their equal opportunities."
State Higher Education Acts
The regulations of the Higher Education Framework Act on the consideration of the interests of disabled and chronically ill students have been adopted - often with identical wording - in the higher education laws of the Länder. In some Länder, the rights of participation have been specified in terms of disabled students. In addition, the state higher education laws may contain regulations on the exemption or reduction of so-called "long-term tuition fees" or general tuition fees (currently only in Lower Saxony).
- Overview: State Higher Education Acts
- Overview: State law regulations on compensation for disadvantages
- Overview: State regulations on disability representatives
- State regulations on long-term tuition fees
Licensing regulations for physicians, dentists and psychotherapists
Since 2021, the licensing regulations have included detailed regulations on compensation for disadvantages.
Accreditation of study programs
A prerequisite for the state approval of Bachelor's and Master's degree programs is the accreditation of these programs. The principles, standards and procedures of accreditation are governed by the State Treaty on the Organization of a Joint Accreditation System for Quality Assurance in Study and Teaching at German Universities(State Treaty on Study Accreditation). The subject-related and content-related criteria to be met by the study programs quality-assured on the basis of this State Treaty include measures to compensate for disadvantages for students with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
HRK Recommendation "A University for All" (21.4.2009)
With the recommendation "A University for All", the universities committed themselves to their obligations at the General Assembly of the German Rectors' Conference on April 21, 2009.
"A University for All - Strategies for Action by the Studentenwerke to Implement the UN Disability Rights Convention and the HRK Recommendation," resolution of the German Student Union (Dec. 2010). With this resolution, the Studentenwerke committed themselves to their obligations at their general meeting in 2010.
Federal States at a Glance
How do the states implement the right of students with impairments to participate in higher education on an equal basis with others? How do they promote university involvement? What networks exist at the state level?