Notes on the design of the legally anchored compensation for disadvantages in study and examination performance

At the Faculty of Physics, equal opportunities and fair conditions are very important to us. Therefore, we always strive to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment in which every student can develop their full potential.
Compensation for disadvantages can help you overcome individual challenges and successfully complete your studies. It is not a sign of weakness, but a means to ensure that you have the same opportunities as all other students. We focus on your individual needs and work closely with you to find the best possible solution.
On this page we would like to inform you about the possibility of disadvantage compensation.

A disadvantage compensation is a measure that serves to compensate for disadvantages that may occur due to special circumstances or individual impairments. It enables you to optimally develop your abilities and potential, regardless of any limitations. The aim is to create equal study and examination conditions, not to make examination requirements easier in terms of content. The use of disadvantage compensation may not affect the assessment of study and examination performance and may not be documented in performance records or certificates.
All students with a disability or chronic illness can submit such an application. It does not matter whether it is a recognised severe disability; chronic mental impairments also fall under this category, as do dyslexia or ADD/ADHD.
If this applies to you, please do not be afraid to take advantage of the opportunities for disadvantage compensation or to seek support.
The prerequisite is that you would suffer a concrete disadvantage if you had to complete the course and examination achievements under the intended conditions or within the intended deadlines. Furthermore, there must be no direct factual connection between the concrete disadvantage and the competences to be demonstrated by the performance.
In our counselling work we are often asked about the following impairments:
Psychische Erkrankungen
Students with a mental burden often belong to the chronically ill, and for some people the criterion of a mental disability also applies.
Students with mental illness suffer from depression, eating disorders or anxiety disorders, for example. At first glance, those affected do not see their impairment. Unlike visible, physical disabilities, these students have to explain the effects of their illness on everyday study life again and again. The fear of those affected of suffering disadvantages or being stigmatised by disclosing their impairments should also not be underestimated.
In the acute phase of the disease, those affected are often no longer able to cope with everyday university life. Examinations can no longer be taken and treatment is usually the first priority. But even in stable phases, for example, a limited ability to cope with stress can have consequences for exam performance. Taking medication can also have side effects and sometimes leads to increased fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Taken together, these stresses can delay studies accordingly.
Exam anxiety
Exam anxiety are normal to a certain extent. In severe cases, however, the fears occur not only during the exam, but also during preparation. The background may be an anxiety disorder or other mental illness. Exam anxiety themselves are not a diagnosis and do not in themselves entitle the student to compensation for disadvantages.
Chronic diseases
These include, for example, respiratory diseases (such as asthma), pain disorders (e.g. migraine), diseases of the internal organs or metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes mellitus). Individual compensation schemes are also possible here.
These include, for example, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia or dyscalculia.
ADHD and autism are neural development disorders. Students with ADHD have attention difficulties, are impulsive and may additionally suffer from severe restlessness. Autism typically leads to problems in social interaction and exchange with others as well as abnormalities in communication behaviour.
Dyslexia is a massive and long-lasting disorder in the acquisition of written language. Those affected have problems with the conversion of spoken to written language and vice versa. Similar to dyslexia, dyscalculia is a functional learning disorder. Difficulties occur in arithmetic operations and limitations in mathematical abilities.
Physical disability
These include, for example, sensory impairments (vision, hearing, speech ...) or mobility and movement restrictions (in the case of neurological diseases or after accidents). In most cases, individual arrangements should be sought that take into account the type and extent of the disability.
Other prolonged impairments or severe illnesses
These include, for example, cancer.
The type of disadvantage compensation that is individually suitable can only be determined depending on the various health restrictions and the type and content of the service to be provided. Nevertheless, you will find some examples of frequently granted disadvantage compensation below.
Time extension
The classic: Often a disadvantage can be compensated for by an extension of the deadline for handing in written papers or a change in the duration of the examination for both written and oral examinations. A time extension also includes necessary additional breaks. This option is not only available to students with direct writing disabilities. It also applies in the case of difficult access to study literature, problems in absorbing information (hearing impaired) and reduced resilience.
Change of the form of examination
With appropriate justification and taking into account the principle of equal treatment, it is possible to convert oral examinations into written examinations (or vice versa), assignments into presentations (or vice versa) and group examinations into individual examinations.
The change of examination form may be necessary for various impairment-related reasons. For example, a written examination instead of an oral examination could be considered for speech-impaired students, the conversion of a presentation into a term paper, for example, for students with diagnosed anxiety disorder or autism.
In contrast, written examinations can only be replaced by homework or vice versa in exceptional cases, as both forms of examination usually test different competences. In individual cases, however, it can be agreed that written papers are supplemented by a hand-in discussion or oral examinations by written examination parts.
Sometimes it can be helpful for students if a person of trust is present at an oral examination. In special exceptional cases, it is possible to replace individual partial performances that cannot be performed due to the impairment (e.g. graphical representations for blind students) with other equivalent performances.
Admission of aid
Possible compensation for disadvantages can also consist of the use of personnel or technical aids, such as sign language interpreters, computer use or a separate room for exams. For example, we have purchased height-adjustable tables for the BBP and the learning rooms. In addition, funds are available to adapt the technology in the lecture halls for the hearing-impaired, for example. If required, please contact the Office of the Dean of Studies.
Amendment of lab course regulations
It is also conceivable to divide lab course performance into individual sections if the disability/chronic illness and the subject specifics are met.
Exemption from the regular attendance requirement in courses
In justified cases, exemption is possible with compensation for attendance through the provision of a compensatory service.
Barrier-free access to premises
We attach great importance to ensuring that our facilities are barrier-free in order to provide equal access for all students. If you have specific requirements for using rooms or facilities, we are happy to help you find individual solutions.
Important:The disadvantage compensation chosen should compensate for identified disadvantages as fully as possible, but must not overcompensate for them.
The application is to be made informally to the Math.-Nat. Examinations Office and requires the following information:

  • Information on the impairment, but not necessarily the naming of the diagnosis
  • Description of the effects of the health situation with regard to the study or examination situation.
  • Formulation of a compensation proposal
  • Specialist medical certificate or statement from a licensed psychological psychotherapist (original!) confirming the effects
  • The application and the evidence of the effects of the impairment must enable the examination board to make a decision as to whether the requirements for disadvantage compensation are met and which measures are appropriate. Accordingly, the documents should be formulated in such a way that the connection between the effects of the impairment and the resulting disadvantages is comprehensible even without prior medical knowledge.
    Important:The application must be submitted in good time before the start of the course or examination so that the processing of the application and the organisational implementation of the disadvantage compensation can be guaranteed. A lead time of four weeks should not be undercut. However, if examination-relevant restrictions occur at short notice and unforeseen before an examination or during a final paper, disadvantage compensation can also be granted at short notice if organisationally possible.
    The examination board decides on the application in a timely manner and sends a written decision.
    After the disadvantage compensation has been granted, the concrete measures should be discussed early with the teachers involved.
Students with permanent impairments should apply for compensation for disadvantages for a longer period of time (possibly until the end of their studies), for several affected achievements.
Compensation for disadvantages for students for whom the impairments (may) develop positively, on the other hand, is granted for shorter periods - corresponding to the times for which the effects are confirmed by medical professionals.
The impairment claimed for the disadvantage compensation must be proven in an appropriate form. Possible evidence is:

  • Specialist medical certificates with information on the effects of the impairment in the examination process and recommendation for examination modifications
  • Determination notice from the pension office or severely disabled person's ID card
  • Statements from rehabilitation providers or approval notices from providers of integration aid
  • Statement by the Disability Officer of the University of Göttingen

Irrespective of the disadvantage compensation, we recommend taking advantage of further support as required:

Affected students often have concerns that disclosing their illness could be associated with disadvantages and stigmatisation. However, the counselling facilities at the university are obliged to maintain confidentiality and, if desired, counselling can also take place anonymously. This means that all persons involved with the application must treat the information confidentially and are obliged to maintain confidentiality towards third parties. The application and also the granting of disadvantage compensation will not be mentioned in the degree certificate.
Students with children or relatives in need of care and support face the particular challenge of having to look after other people in addition to themselves. Commuting back and forth between the childcare or care facility, desk, lecture hall, their own household, the household of the person in need of care and / or a part-time job requires a great deal of organisation and time. In addition to the mental and sometimes also physical strain, it is especially time restrictions that can lead to conflicts between studies and child-rearing or care responsibilities, if for example:

  • the child becomes ill
  • the state of health of close relatives changes so that support has to be organised, extended or care has to be provided
  • Physical stress occurring in the course of or as a result of pregnancy
  • the care is cancelled
  • Courses and / or examinations are outside the regular childcare hours or in the daycare closing times or school holidays or in the period of maternity leave.
  • Full-time internships beyond the care times of children and relatives in need of care
  • Excursions lasting several days/weeks or stays abroad are planned
  • Lab courses / internships fall within the period of maternity protection (period from the beginning of pregnancy to the end of breastfeeding).

The application is also made informally to the Math.-Nat. Examinations Office and requires the following information:

  • A brief presentation of the compatibility challenges and their impact on study and examination performance,
  • a statement on what modification of the course or examination performance would be necessary in the applicant's view to compensate for the effects, and
  • a suitable proof (e.g. a medical certificate, e.g. about maternity leave, a birth certificate or a statement from the nursing care insurance fund).