United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

According to a survey which has been conducted by the Deutsches Studentenwerk - German National Association for Students’ Affairs - (refer to BEST – Beeinträchtigt studieren (students with disabilities), about 8 % of the persons studying at institutes of higher education in this country have a disability or a chronic disease. Be it impairment of mobility, sight, hearing and speech, or a physical impairment, for example, rheumatism or diabetes, or mental disorders, for example depression – for many of the students these impairments have an adverse impact on their ability to study. For the benefit of these students, the institutes of higher education are not only required by law but have committed themselves to breaking down barriers, to overcoming the disadvantages and providing circumstances that enable these students to successfully complete their studies. The representative for students with disabilities and/or chronic diseases and her/his staff will be happy to act in an advisory capacity for students as well as for lecturers and other interested persons.

In which cases can I get advice here?

NO advice will be given on general or specific queries regarding subjects, complex financial problems, or academic affairs that are not related to the disability or chronic disease because there are separate advice services for these queries.

Important legal basis regarding disability and chronic diseases

The UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines the human rights for disabled persons and aims at promoting their full participation in society on an equal basis with others. Important principles are barrier-free, equal opportunities, and non-discrimination. Article 24 refers to inclusive education.    

 Article 24 (5) UN Convention of the Rights of Personal with Disabilities:  “State 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, state parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities.”    

A monitoring process has been established at the German Institute for Human Rights to monitor the implementation of the UN Convention in Germany. Federal and Länder institutions have prepared action plans to facilitate implementation of the Convention which as well aims at higher education (see: www.institut-fuer-menschenrechte.de/?id=467).

Basic Law

Rights of persons with disabilities regarding, for example, adjustments to overcome disadvantages arise from the Basic Law principle of equality, principle of non-discrimination, and welfare state principle.  

Article 3, (1) and (3) Basic Law: “All persons shall be equal before the law.” “(…) No person shall be disadvantaged because of disability.”   Article 20 Basic Law: “The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social federal state.”

Hochschulrahmengesetz (HRG) (German Framework Act for Higher Education)

In accordanc with the German Framework Act for Higher Education state and non-state institutes of higher education are obliged to work towards integration of students with disabilities.  

Article 2 (2), German Framework Act for Higher Education: “The institutes of higher education ensure that students with disabilities will not be disadvantaged as a result of their disability and that they can pursue their studies without further help, if possible.”  

Article 16 (4), German Framework Act for Higher Education: “Examination regulations have to include alternative arrangements for students with disabilities in order to maintain equal opportunities for all students.”

Landeshochschulgesetz für Schleswig-Holstein (HSG - Land Schleswig-Holstein Higher Education Act)

Article 3 (5), Land Schleswig-Holstein Higher Education Act: “The institutes of higher education contribute to the social support of students. They take into account the diversity of their members and staff when performing their tasks and keep focus on ensuring that all members and staff, independent from their origin and ethnicity, sex, age, and sexual identity, disability, or religion and belief have equal opportunities to participate in research, teaching, studies, and continuing education within the framework of their duties, powers, and obligations at the institute of higher education. To this end, they consider the special needs  

  1. of students and doctoral students with disabilities, mental disorder or a long-term health condition. While doing so they create and ensure accessibility of all offers for persons with disabilities
    (…)
    regarding course offers, study schedules, and examinations.”  

Article 9 (1), Land Schleswig-Holstein Higher Education Act: “ (…) Construction measures take into consideration a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities. (…)”  

Article 52 (2), Land Schleswig-Holstein Higher Education Act: “Examination regulations have to include competence standards and examination procedures. In particular the examination regulations have to define ( …)

(14) principles of eligibility for compensation for a disadvantage.”

With regard to the commitment of the institutes of higher education, e. g. based on the recommendation of the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (German University Rectors’ Conference), dated 21-04-2009, “Eine Hochschule für alle” (One institute of higher education for everybody):

The members of the German University Rectors’ Conference recognise the particular situation of students with disabilities and are committed to ensure equal opportunities for these students.”