Studying with disability

The beginning of your academic studies introduces you to a world of independence, new experiences, people, and environments. This new life requires more energy and attention, even more so when dealing with a health impairment.

Ulm University wants to support and provide an equal footing to all students with:

  • mobility, visual or hearing impairments

  • chronic physical or mental illnesses

  • specific learning disabilities (SLD). Our advisory service is available to current and prospective students of Ulm University.

This advisory service is subsidiary to the Zentrale Studienberatung (central student advisory services). Therefore we would like to ask you to make your appointments through them. You can arrange an appointment for a personal consultation with them by phone or email.

Alternatively, you can send us an email or a letter with your questions or concerns.

The consultation is of course subject to the duty of confidentiality and free of charge.


Behrouz Behbehani M.A.
Zentrale Studienberatung Universität Ulm
Dezernat -Studium und Lehre-
Albert-Einstein-Allee 5

What do we mean by disability?

The word disability often has the connotation of a physical impairment. In this context, however, it also comprises chronic illnesses and specific learning disabilities (SLD).

According to the Sozialgesetzbuch (German Social Welfare Code) IX § 2 para. 1, a person is disabled if

'their physical function, cognitive ability or mental health are highly likely to differ from the level that is typical for that particular age for longer than six months, and their participation in social life is limited as a consequence.'

Disabilities expressed in percent are not the only factors that can compromise someone's studies though. Regeneration periods after accidents, chronic or longer lasting illnesses and specific learning disabilities can keep one from performing at the same level as others without such impairments.

In the summer semester of 2016, 11% of students stated that they were suffering from one or more health problems and thus being hindered in their studies. The proportion of students reporting impairments has therefore increased by 4 percentage points since 2012. A marginally larger proportion of women (12%) than men (10%) had a health problem that was hampering their studies.
Mental disorders were affecting studies especially frequently. For 47% of those suffering from one or more impairments, a mental disorder was either the only impairment or the one that was exerting the greatest impact on studying. For 18% of adversely affected students, the most severe impediment to studying originated from a chronic somatic symptom disorder. In 6% of cases, several impairments were affecting the ability to study to an equal extent. 11% of affected students were unwilling to disclose the nature of their health problem(s).
Impairments having a detrimental effect on studying exert a major influence on the study pathway. More than a third of the students with impaired health had already completed in excess of ten semesters, whereas only a little more than a fifth of students not suffering health problems had been studying for such a long period (36% vs. 22%).
Students with a health impairment had changed their degree course and/or HE institution more frequently than those who were well (31% vs. 21% and 22% vs. 16% respectively), and were more than twice as likely to have interrupted their studies (32% vs. 13%). Compared with their healthy fellow students, far fewer of those with health problems regarded their livelihood as secure (49% vs. 70%).

Getting here and parking

If you have a severe physical impairment, we recommend to organise assistance with transport early on.

There are disabled parking spaces in various areas on campus. The campus is also easy to reach with public transport.

Euro keys

There are several wheelchair-accessible toilets on campus that can only be opened with a Euro key. This is a Europe-wide locking system for wheelchair-accessible sanitary facilities issued by the disabled association Club Behinderter und ihrer Freunde in Darmstadt und Umgebung e. V.


Again, we recommend that you apply early with the Studierendenwerk (student services) Ulm for a place in one of the student residences. You can do this even if you have not yet received a letter of admission. Wheelchair-accessible student accommodation is available at Gutenbergstrasse, Heidenheimer Strasse and Manfred-Börner-Strasse.

Getting around on and off campus

Transport services in Ulm and Neu-Ulm

Public transport in Ulm and Neu-Ulm

Mobility in Ulm 

It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the university, the campus and the city before you commence your studies. Our Info Day in November, taster lectures during autumn holidays or our subject-specific info events in early summer are perfect opportunities! Of course you're welcome to visit and check out the university on any other day as well.

It is important to know your environment when dealing with a physical impairment. We would like to invite you to come and get a feeling for the university before commencing your studies. Our staff would love to meet you as well.

We are happy to arrange a confidential consultation with you at the Zentrale Studienberatung (central student advisory services). The course advisors are available for consultations as well. This is a great opportunity to discuss specifics of your studies and make appropriate arrangements.

Study programmes with restricted admission usually have more applicants than available places. Ulm University allocates 90% of its places through a selection procedure and 10% via waiting periods. The following quota have priority over this selection procedure and are for applicants in special situations:

  • 8% foreign nationals (with the exception of EU citizens or foreign nationals with a German university entrance qualification)
  • 5% cases of hardship
  • 2% second degree applicants
  • 1% when dependence on study location is in the interest of the public

For applicants with an impairment a claim of hardship might be an option to secure a place. A severe disability (in alignment with the Disabilities Act) on its own does not automatically justify an immediate admission under the hardship regulations. The person applying is required to proof that they are presented with an exceptionally grave personal situation which is so severe that they cannot reasonably be expected to wait for their admission even one more semester. The reasons can be health-related, social of family-related, such as an illness with the tendency to aggravate in such a way that the degree could not be completed if the commencement of their studies were delayed.
Hardship can also be claimed when applying for a master’s programme.

Another potential way to increase your chances is an Antrag auf Verbesserung der Wartezeit (application for recognition of ‘hidden’ waiting times).
Wartezeit is the time that has passed between the achievement of the Abitur / higher education entrance qualification and the commencement of the studies. It is calculated in full semesters. One year after the Abitur counts as two waiting semesters. For this time to count as Wartezeit you are allowed to do many things except studying at a German higher education institution.
Were there reasons that prevented you from obtaining your Abitur sooner? For example, did you have to repeat a year at school due to health reasons? If so, you can request this time to be credited towards your Wartezeit.

Extension of time limits

If you fall ill during the semester or examination period, you can apply for an extension of time limits for the orientation examination, individual exams or the achievement of credit points.

Leave of absence from studies

If a longer-lasting illness prevents you from visiting courses and thus from obtaining the required study and exam achievements, you can also apply to take the semester off.

Please note: during leave of absence from studies you are not eligible for BAföG (student loan).

Nachteilsausgleich (compensation for disadvantages)

The Nachteilsausgleich was established to avoid disadvantages for students due to impairments. This has nothing to do with preferential treatment!

Individual solutions can be found depending on the impairment (medical report), for example, extension of time limits, changing written to oral exams or the other way around etc.