Studying with a Disability
Furtwangen University (HFU) is an inclusive environment where support can be provided to help you study. If you have a disability or chronic illness, you can apply for special support while you are applying for a study place at HFU. This can also be done during the studies.
It's important to contact us to discuss what you might need as early as possible, even before sending your application, for example for information about facilities available and to plan support measures. We recommend that you talk to the Academic Counselling Centre to work out individual solutions.
Below you will find information about applications for special assistance, about financing, facilities and contact persons. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
What is a disability or chronic illness?
An impairment which is a disability or chronic illness is not only a medical diagnosis. What also has to be taken into consideration is the effect of the impairment at university and during the course and how it prevents a person "taking part in a full, effective and equal manner." (Convention of the United Nations on the rights of persons with disabilities)
In the Social Welfare Statutes, a disability is defined as follows:
"A person is considered disabled when their bodily function, mental capacity or mental health is highly likely to vary for longer than 6 months from that which is typical for that age group and therefore represents an impediment to participation in society. One is threatened with disability if such an impediment can be expected." (§ 2 Abs. 1 SGB IX)
"Chronic illnesses can be longer illnesses or those which are episodic, such as chronic bowel diseases or epilepsy. If they lead to a significant impediment to taking part in society, this is regarded as a disability even if many of those affected do not regard themselves as "disabled".
(Source: Study and Disability, Deutsches Studentenwerk, 2013).
Compensation for Disadvantage during Applications and Admission
Applicants with a disability and/or chronic illness can apply as a hardship case or for compensation for disadvantage while applying for their undergraduate degree. The University applies strict standards for the approval of such applications.
Five percent of study places available at Furtwangen University are offered prior to beginning the allocation process, to applicants who are considered cases of extreme hardship as part of a so-called advanced allocation quota. Through this quota, the recognition of a hardship case leads to immediate admission before all other applicants regardless of selection criteria, the selection process or waiting period. An officially recognized disability alone is not sufficient for the approval of a hardship case.
A hardship case must be explained in detail. Relevant documents, (e.g. a specialist doctor's report, and additional documents such as disabled person's ID, official assessment from the Pension Office) must also be submitted. It must be proved that the health, social or family situation of the person filing the application is so serious, that to wait even one semester for admittance is untenable. In other words it must be an exceptional case. The basis for a hardship case is § 12 of the Baden-Württemberg Regulations for University Place Allocation (Hochschulvergabeverordnung - HVVO).
The following are examples for hardship cases based on serious health issues, which would require immediate admission:
- Continuously worsening illness which would result in that person very likely not being able to deal with the pressure of the requirements of the study programme in the future.
- Disabilty through illness; professional rehabilitation can only be ensured through immediate admission to the study programme because as a result of the disability no other meaningful use of the waiting period is possible.
- Limitation to a narrow career choice as a result of physical disability; successful rehabilitation is expected as a result of the targeted study programme.
- Necessity to give up the previous study programme or previous type of work on health grounds; as a result no other meaningful use of the waiting period is possible.
- Physical disability; the disability prevents any other acceptable activity until a study place is allocated.
- Limitation of careers options or ability to work as a result of illness; because of this meaningful use of the waiting period is restricted.
Application for Compensation for Disadvantage (Shortened Waiting Period)
At Furtwangen University, after deduction of the advance allocation quota, 10% of the study places are allocated over the waiting list. In the waiting list quota the allocation of the study places is carried out purely according to the number of semesters the applicant has been waiting. Waiting semesters are the number of 6-month periods, which have passed since the applicant achieved the university entrance qualification without the applicant being matriculated at a university.
The achievement of the university entrance qualification may be delayed as a result of a disability and/or a chronic illness. In this case the waiting time is "adjusted" during the selection process and an earlier point in time is given for the achievement of the university entrance qualification. By this means, the applicant is placed on the waiting list at the point which would have been expected, had they not been delayed through illness.
The following documents must be submitted in addition to the admissions application:
- Proof of reason for application (e.g. specialist doctor's report, official assessment from the Pension Office)
- Proof of how the reason for application influenced the point in time of the achievement of the university entrance qualification (copies of school certificates)
- Notification from school stating the reasons for and duration of the delay in achieving the university entrance qualification
- Any further documentation as required
Compensation for Disadvantage during Studies
Students with a disability and/or a chronic illness have the right to compensation for disadvantage during their studies and exams. This special support should be individual and customized to the situation to compensate for the impediments to study caused by their impairments. At Furtwangen University this support is anchored in §7 (2) of the Study and Examinations Regulations (SPO) for Bachelor's programmes and in § 6 (2) of the SPO for Master's programmes.
Applications should be made by letter to the relevant Faculty Examinations Board. The following should be included:
- details on modifications requested in order to take part in studies and exams, giving reasons
- proof of impairment and its effect on exams and/or studies
Compensation for disadvantage can be provided for the organization and execution of studies as well as for exams and assessments. For example:
- a customized study plan
- extension of the exam time in exams
- change of the type of exam, e.g. an oral exam instead of a written exam
- the use of technical aids
- postponement of written exams
It is important to speak to the dean of studies involved and/or the Academic Counselling Centre to find an individual solution. In addition any possible effects on welfare benefits should be clarified, such as for example BAföG funding with the Student Services in Freiburg.
Financing of Studies
Here you can find financing information specific to those with disabilities. General information regarding the financing of your degree can be found under Financial Support.
Like other students, students with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses are entitled to BAföG funding primarily for the financing of education and living costs, when their income or that of their supporting relatives is insufficient.
Students with a disability and/or a chronic illness are entitled to various means of extra support through BAföG, e.g. right to begin study after the maximum age limit, possible additional hardship allowances upon assessment of income, or extension of funding beyond the maximum funding period.
We recommend that you take advantage of the BAföG counselling service of Student Services Freiburg.
Like other students, students with a disability and/or chronic illness can apply for a scholarship.
Some trusts, such as those below, particularly support students with a disability or chronic illness:
- German AIDS trust
Material support for students who are HIV-positive and have AIDS.
- Georg Leffers Trust
Support of disabled students who are not entitled to, are no longer entitled to, or who cannot recieve adquate support from state or other grants.
- Bowel Illnesses Trust
Support of young people in training and higher education up to the age of 35 who have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
3. More financial support
Under certain conditions, it may be possible to claim housing benefits or social benefits such as unemployment money (Arbeitslosengeld II) or social welfare. In addition, exceptions to the children's allowance benefit may apply (e.g. benefits above the age of 25) for students with a disability and/or chronic illness. They are also eligible for benefits for additional needs (e.g. for hygiene, household help, food) and for so-called integration support, such as technical aids, communication and study assistance and mobility aids, as well as additional non-cash and support benefits.
Further information can be obtained from Social Services at Student Services Freiburg, who provide information and counselling on all HFU campuses.
On site facilities and technical aids
Rooms at Furtwangen University are nearly all wheelchair accessible. Disabled parking places are also mainly available. If you would like to visit our buildings, especially for the first time, we will be happy to inform you about access.
If necessary the university will help students to find individual solutions for access to buildings and will assist in the organization of technical aids necessary for studying.
Access to buildings
A student project group has tested the buildings of Furtwangen Campus for accessibility and a barrier-free environment for disabled people, particularly the blind and wheelchair users. A list of lecture rooms, toilets and lifts is available which shows, for example, where a special key is required for a lift, that is available from the Disabled Officer at the university.
Visiting HFU as a wheelchair user
Wheelchair users who would like to visit the Furtwangen Campus of Furtwangen University - before deciding whether to apply for example, can use the wheelchair parking spaces in front of the Clock Museum. These give direct access to the main building, the A building. An information board there shows that the building can be accessed through the cafeteria which is on the left of the main entrance.
If the Disabled Officer of the HFU is contacted in advance, he will wait in front of the A building and give visitors a tour of the most important facilities, such as the Examinations Office. He will also be the contact person for the future.
Advice and Information regarding studying with a disability
1. Disabled Officer HFU
- Support in the organisation of technical aids necessary to study
- Information on existing conditions
Tel: 07723 920-2717
Furtwangen Campus, Room B 0.05
2. Academic Counselling Centre HFU
- Information regarding Study and Examination Regulations for disabled students
- Information regarding special support during application and studies
- Assistance in application for special support during studies
Academic Counselling Centre
Furtwangen Campus, Room A 2.11