Are there specific points to keep in mind?

Application Procedures and Health Issues

You wish to study at Goethe-University wonder how your health situation / disability might affect your application?

If your intended course of study does not demand any specific entrance requirements, there are no special "disability/health- related" points to be observed – the usual application is sufficient in these cases. However, please consider formal procedures, deadlines and (if applicable) regulations concerning international students carefully.

Even if there are specific entrance requirements for your intended course of study, your state of health does not play any direct role in acceptance.  Application procedures follow the principle: The major criterion for acceptance into a study program is the applicant's academic qualification. Students with health impairments or disabilities are on equal standing with other students – there is no privilege enabling their acceptance into their preferred course of studies, nor is there a special principle of "free choice of subject" for these applicants, any legal regulation to that effect.

However, legislation does provide two instruments to counterbalance possible negative effects of health impairments on academic achievements, so that applicants with health issues are on an equal footing with all other applicants. These instruments are: 

  • the Härtefall-Antrag (“cases of hardship") concerning applications
  • and Nachteilsausgleich bei der Studienzulassung (“compensatory measures", “accomodations") concerning applications with effects on the quality of your entrance qualification or the queueing time recognised.

Goethe University applies these instruments strictly in accordance with legal regulations.

Applications for either of these two accommodating instruments have to be filed with the regular applications and in keeping with the applicable deadline.

If you intend to file an application in terms of these legal instruments (“Sonderantrag stellen"), we strongly recommend to discuss your situation with our study advisors in advance.

Special regulations aside, we recommend students living with a chronic health condition or disability to contact the university‘s specialised study advisors (or advisory services generally), to discuss how the specifics and the environment of their studies may be (re-)organised to accomodate their needs.

Introductory Remarks

For your application under either of the regulations to be successful, it is imperative to demonstrate with great clarity the causal connection between your health impairment and the disadvantage(s) you have been confronted with during your academic/school career.  You have to give documented evidence for your claims. Referring in general terms to your difficult personal situation and the hardship and challenges you face is usually insufficient. An official recognition of the disability (Disability Identity Card, “Schwerbehindertenausweis") usually is not necessary nor in itself sufficient, either.

Comprehensive information on the applicable laws and regulations may be found on the website of Studien-Service-Center (SSC). Likewise, you may refer directly to the law and consult the Hessische Verordnung über die Hochschulzulassumg (Regulation on University Admission of Hessen) . 

In what follows, we provide a brief overview, specifically intended for the information of (international) applicants with health issues. These cannot replace legal counselling our study advisory services, or other more specific information. We hope, however, that they will help you to evaluate your situation in terms of the applicable regulations. International students/candidates may also have to consider additional regulations, depending on their university entrance qualification or country of origin.

Härtefall-Antrag: “Cases of Hardship” in Admission to University

Filing an application under the “cases of hardship" regulations with regard to your health situation requires that you demonstrably need to enter your study program immediately due to your condition of health, or that you demonstrably need to change your location of study immediately for this reason. Waiting even one single semester needs to constitute an unacceptable hazard under the present conditions. As a paradigmatic example, a chronic condition exacerbating over time, which makes it very problematic indeed to postpone the beginning of an academic education, is frequently mentioned.  Likewise, an application to be admitted precisely to the university (location of study) of your choice is possible, if there is no other option to choose due to your condition of health.
The application needs to provide clear and consistent reasons in terms of these criteria and include relevant medical evidence. Demonstrating one's status as (severely) disabled person (“Nachweis einer Schwerbehinderung") is typically not in itself sufficient to be considered under the “cases of hardship" regulation. 
According to the pertinent regulations, a maximum of 5% of admittances into one study program (per semester) is allocated to “cases of hardship". A successful application under the “cases of hardship" regulation leads to immediate acceptance into the study program, but only, if the above quota has not yet been attained. 
Strict criteria are used to evaluate applications under the “cases of hardship" regulations. 

Nachteilsausgleich in University Admission

Applicants with health impairments furthermore have the option to apply for a Nachteilsausgleich (Ger.: “Compensation of Disadvantages") as a part of their application. Compensation may be claimed in two different respects: recognised queueing time and an amelioration of the relevant grade in the university entrance qualification (A-Level, school leaving certificate: “[Fach-]Abitur", or similar).  

If an applicant can demonstrate that s/he has been unable to reach his/her entrance qualification at an earlier point of time due to their health impairment, the queueing time is calculated according to that earlier point of time. The application has to provide clear and consistent reasons to that effect and refer to relevant medical evidence. In addition, you should explain the steps of your past (school!) career of education, based on copies of adequate certificates. 

As a second option, there's the possibility to apply for an amelioration of the relevant grade in the university entrance qualification (A-Level, school leaving certificate: “[Fach-]Abitur", or similar), in case you were demonstrably unable to obtain a better result due to your health impairment. Typical cases include a major deterioration of academic achievement due to your condition, which impeded your attaining the level of achievement has which typically characterised your academic development, based on your educational history. This especially applies to cases, where prolonged absences from class during the last three years prior to graduation were inevitable.   

For this form of compensation, the application must contain relevant medical evidence and an evaluative statement on behalf of  the school (“Schulgutachten"). This statement must not have been provided by one single teacher only. It needs to have been issued on behalf of the school as such (coordinated by the head master) and it needs to carry the school's official seal. The statement needs to detail the history of your academic achievements and demonstrate the relevant deterioration of your achievements clearly and consistently. Furthermore, it needs to contain a precise prognosis concerning the grade the student would have been able to obtain without (i.e. but for) the interference of the health impairment. 

Preparing such a statement is a complex issue, demanding quite some time and effort, even more so, because all of the teachers have to report on the student's educational history and development for their individual subjects 

If you consider filing an application under the above regulations, please contact the study advisors for students with health issues in advance to obtain pertinent guidance concerning the procedure and the compilation of the relevant documents. 

Resources for your own Research

For additional details, please consult the Deutsches Studentenwerk (Student Union); information may also be obtained at, with the foundation in charge of university admission (in several subjects). You may also collect information locally at Goethe University's Studien-Service-Center. For questions concerning your individual situation, please contact the study advisors for students with health issues.


Advice and Support for Students with Health Issues
Beratung für Studierende mit Beeinträchtigung

Arrange an appointment online 

Weitere Erläuterungen (extern)

Please note:

This is a preliminary English version intended to support our international audience. In cases of doubt, please refer to the original German rulesand regulations, or consult a specialist. Thank you.