Academic adjustments/access arrangements
Legal basis for academic adjustments
"Persons with disabilities include people who have long-term physical, mental, cognitive or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may prevent them from participating fully, effectively and equally in society." (Art. 1 UNCRPD)
This definition also includes episodic, chronic or mental illnesses, such as rheumatism, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, depression or anxiety disorders – if they impair social participation.
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- “Discrimination on the basis of disability” means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation;
- “Reasonable accommodation” means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
(Art. 2 UNCRPD)
The UNCRPD also stipulates non-discriminatory access to higher education for people with disabilities:
States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others. To this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities. (Art. 24(5) UNCRPD)
German Social Code (SGB) Book IX
Persons with disabilities are those who have, for a duration of more than six months, been affected by 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. (§ 2(1) SGB IX)
This definition also encompasses students with chronic and mental illnesses.
Prohibition of discrimination in the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz):
No-one may be disadvantaged on the basis of a disability. (Art. 3(3) sentence 2 Basic Law)
Access to higher education: Higher Education Framework Act (HRG)
They [the higher education institutions] must "ensure that disabled students are not disadvantaged in their studies and that they can make use of the offers of the higher education institution as much as possible without outside help" (Art. 2(4) sentence 2 HRG; unofficial translation).
Examination regulations must take into account the special needs of disabled students in order to ensure equal opportunities for them. (Art. 16 sentence 4 HRG)
The remit of representatives for students with disabilities issues from the Bavarian Higher Education Act (BayHschG)
The higher education institutions shall take into account the special needs of students with disabilities and appoint a representative for students with disabilities whose duties shall be regulated in the institution's constitution. They shall ensure that students with disabilities are not disadvantaged in their studies and that they are able to make use of the university's services without outside assistance as far as possible. (Art. 2(3), sentences 3 and 4 BayHschG)
The examination regulations of the University of Passau state that appropriate measures to compensate for disadvantages must be put in place for students with disabilities or long-term, serious or chronic illnesses.
Who can apply for academic adjustments/exam access arrangements?
Students who, due to a disability, a long-term serious or chronic illness or mental illness, are unable to take examinations in whole or in part under the prescribed conditions or to take them within the deadlines specified in the study and examination regulations, may apply for exam access arrangements.
What are academic adjustments/access arrangements?
Academic adjustments (also called access arrangements) are special dispensations that compensate for disadvantages brought about by a candidate's disability or chronic or mental illness; the point is not to give the candidates an advantage over fellow students but to level the playing field, i.e. enabling the students concerned to complete their studies and examinations under conditions that come as close as possible to those encountered by students who are not afflicted by a disability or chronic or mental illness.
Since such compensatory measures must always be adapted to a person's individual needs, there can be no generally binding rules or standard modifications of exam conditions for different types of disability or chronic illness. In cooperation with teaching staff, the disabilities officer and Examinations Office should work to find the best possible solution for each individual.
Academic adjustments granted during the degree programme are not indicated on the Bachelor's or Master's degree certificate.
Please do not hesitate to seek advice from the Student Disabilities Officer, Dr Ulrike Bunge. She is bound by the duty of confidentiality, advises neutrally and without obligation, also anonymously if you wish. To make an appointment, call +49 851 509 1154 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
- Extra time for oral and written examinations, deadline extensions for term papers, theses and dissertations
- Examination in a separate room with a separate invigilator
- Change of exam type: oral exam instead of written exam or vice versa; individual examination instead of group examination
- Extension of the period of study
- Use of technical aids
- Study assistance in the form of a student assistant (reading texts aloud, taking notes in class, text entry into a computer system)
How do I apply for an exam access arrangement?
In order to apply for exam access arrangements, the Examinations Office requires various applications and documents from you, which you must submit to the Examinations Office during the exam registration period at the latest:
- the completed Exam Access Arrangement Application Form [German content]
- a current medical certificate from a general practitioner/family doctor or, if applicable, from a consultant; this must not be older than three months
Please note the requirements for the certificate indicated in the leaflet [German content].
- if available: confirmation letters from previously attended schools or universities showing any previously granted access arrangements.
- if available: disabled pass or other medical certificates.
Please submit these documents to the Examinations Office by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), by post (Examinations Office, Attn. Ms Stockinger, Innstr. 41, 94032 Passau, Germany)or in person (Administration Building, Innstrasse 41, room VW 206).
The chairperson of the Board of Examiners will decide on your application within three weeks. Subsequently, the Examinations Office send you an official notice ("Bescheid") of the decision.
In the case of the University-set portion of the Erste Juristische Prüfung (i.e. the non-state exam part of this combined examination) the decision rests with the Dean. For details, see the subject study and examination regulation for your degree programme or the general study and examination regulation of your faculty.
Following a successful application for exam access arrangements:
Once your exam access arrangements have been approved you must inform those in charge of planning the examinations:
- For centrally organised examinations, you should send the the official notice and the completed Exam Access Arrangements Form ("Nachteilsausgleichsmaßnahmen" for the relevant exams to the Examinations Office. You must do this anew for every semester, during the registration period for the examinations. You can send this form by e-mail to email@example.com or by post to the Examinations Office, Attn: Ms Stockinger, Innstr. 41, 94032 Passau, Germany.
- For decentralised examinations organised by the chairs, please contact the relevant chair in good time, at the very minimum four weeks before the examination. Please use the following form: Notification of exam access arrangements for chairs. Please also present your approval notice ("Bescheid") there.
Please refer to the overview provided by the Examinations Office to find out whether an examination is centrally organised or decentralised.
You have to reapply for exam access arrangements every semester and for each examination.
Please also read the guide on exam access arrangements for students with impairments (especially with mental and chronic illnesses) [German content].
Teacher education programmes
To apply for exam access arrangements, students should submit a signed letter requesting said exam access arrangements to the address below. There is no form to be filled in for this. If it concerns the autumn exam date this request/application must arrive by 1 June and for the spring exam date by the 1 December of the preceding year (please note this is the date of receipt, not the date of posting). The address is as follows:
Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Unterricht und Kultus
A medical certificate from a public medical officer (Amtsarzt) is always required to apply for exam access arrangements in state examinations. In addition you can enclose a copy of your disabled pass with the application for exam access arrangements.
The official medical report must certify that due to a non-temporary disability and/or chronic illness you will suffer a considerable impairment when taking the assessment. Furthermore, the report should make a recommendation by what percentage the working time should be extended or what other measures should be taken to compensate for disadvantages.
In the case of exam access arrangements for diagnosed dyslexia, the recommendations of the public medical officer are generally decisive. Since spelling and grammar also marked in state examinations, applications for non-assessment of spelling and grammar usually have no chance of success.
Contact at the State Ministry: Ulrich Lutz (STMBW)
First State Examination for Law ("Erste Juristische Staatsprüfung")
The application for exam access arrangements in state examinations for law ("Erste Juristische Staatsprüfung") is made to the Landesjustizprüfungsamt (state judicial examinations office). A simple letter suffices, there is no specific form to fill in.
Applications are accepted by written letter or e-mail. You can find the contact details at the State Judicial Examination Office [German content] under "Nachteilsausgleich".
The application must be received no later than six weeks before the beginning of the written examination (§ 13(3) sentence 1 JAPO).
You always have to provide proof in the form of a certificate from a Landgerichtsarzt (this is a court-appointed physician who advises the court on a regular basis) or a district health authority (Gesundheitsamt (§ 13(3) sentence 2 JAPO). In principle, the Landgerichtsarzt or the district health authority at the applicant's place of residence have jurisdiction.
The medical certificate should indicate the nature of the illness and the effects on the student's ability to sit the examination.
Exam access arrangements in the JAPO [German content]
It is helpful to bring and present existing medical documents and notices of already approved exam access arrangements from the university (if available) to the official medical examination, so that the official medical officer can better assess possible exam access arrangements measures.
Information for student teachers (state examination)
Information for law students (state examination)
Law students who wish to apply for a exam access arrangements for the First State Law Examination should submit an application to the Landsjustizprüfungsamt. There is no form for this; you should simply write a letter or send an e-mail in which you explain the situation and request exam access arrangements. You can find the contact details at the Landsjustizprüfungsamt [German content] under the heading "Nachteilsausgleich".
The application must be received at least six weeks before the beginning of the written examination and must be supported by a certificate from a Landgerichtsarzt or a district health authority (Gesundheitsamt)). In principle, the Landgerichtsarzt or the district health authority at the applicant's place of residence (§ 13 JAPO [German content]). The certificate should indicate the nature of the illness and how it affects the student's ability to sit the examination.
It is helpful to bring and present any existing medical documents and official notices of previously approved exam access arrangements from the university (if available) to the official medical examination.