Disadvantage Compensation

What is a disadvantage compensation?

Disadvantage compensation for study and examination regulations

The alignment of study and examination regulations by the so-called disadvantage compensation helps to prevent disadvantages which arise out of disability, chronic or acute illnesses or from family responsibilities in the course of the studies. Disadvantage compensation is not an allowance, but compensates disadvantages. Since the expected performance is not reduced, it may not affect the assessment of the performance in the examination and shall not be recorded in the certificates or expert reports.

Examples of situations in which an application for a disadvantage compensation may be made

In family situations, due to pregnancy or as a parent:

  • Day care centre is closed
  • Delivery date falls in the examination period
  • Pressing need to take care (of someone) in the family
  • Other individual situations

In case of disability or chronic illness:

  • Medical specialist must be consulted during the teaching period
  • Hospital stay while working on homework
  • Due to the disability, more time is needed for the exam or thesis
  • Illness requires writing the exam with language software
  • Other individual situations

Examples of disadvantage compensation

  • Extension of time for exams
  • Modification in the method of examination
  • Individually adjusted exam/submission deadlines
  • Alternative performance
  • Permission for the use of technical and personal aids
  • Writing exams in separate rooms
  • Preference in attending the lectures
  • Etc.

Basically, the disadvantage compensation must always be decided depending on the individual case and the situation, since the actual disadvantage can greatly vary.

How is an application for disadvantage compensation made?

It has been proven that it is useful to seek consult the Representative for Students with disabilities and chronic illnesses or Family Services Office. Both are confidential and free of charge.

The teaching staff of the respective Student Office/Course of Study Office or the Examination Offices also advise on subject-specific questions and possibilities for disadvantage compensation.

  • Important: The application must be made in a timely manner (preferably at the beginning of the semester, but no later than two weeks before the planned implementation), so that the disadvantage compensation measures (e.g., extension of examination time) can be organisationally implemented by the administration. An application can be made multiple times for different disadvantage compensations.


  1. Write an application
    Draft an informal application for disadvantage compensation for a specific period with information on specific measures (e.g., increasing writing time by 50%); the addressee is the Chair of the competent Examination Board for the programme (Exceptions Administration of Justice: Here, the jurisdiction lies with the Dean of Department 4).

    Template: Disadvantage Compensation
  2. Enclose proof
    Attach an appropriate document as proof (e.g., a medical specialist opinion/certificate, a certificate on the closing time of the day care centre, a medical certificate on the care dependency of a relative), that certifies the existence of a disadvantage. In case of specialist certificates, it would be helpful if specific measures are recommended (for e.g., increasing the writing time by 50%). The certificate must not include any diagnosis, but only describe how the existing disability or illness is affecting adversely. 
  3. Submit the application
    Submit the application to the competent Student Office/Course of Study Office/Examination Office. It will forward the application to the Chair of the Examination Board or to the Dean.
  4. Information on Decision
    The applicant will be informed about the decision of the Chair of the Examination Board.
  5. Check Disadvantage Compensation
    Check the decision on the disadvantage compensation. If it is in alignment with your application, the next step of implementation follows.
  6. Implement Disadvantage Compensation
    If the application has been approved, you must coordinate with the Student Office /Course of Study Office /Examination Office or the particular examiner about how the disadvantage compensation will be organisationally implemented.


For the programmes

  • Public Administration (B.A.) and Public Administration Dual (B.A.)
  • Law and Public Administration LL.B.
  • Administration of Justice (Diplom)
  • Higher Police Service (B.A.)
  • Public Administration – Police Management (B.A.)

as well as the Cooperative Studies Programme

  • Business Engineering in Environmental Science (B.Eng.)
  • Public and Nonprofit-Management (B.A.)
  • Nonprofit-Management und Public Governance (M.A.)

the Framework Study and Examination Guidelines do not apply. Separate regulations apply in each case. Please be informed about the updated version.

This list is not exhaustive.

Legal bases

Berliner Hochschulgesetz (BerlHG), (Higher Education Act): obligates the universities by virtue § 31 Abs. 3 BerlHG, to consider the needs of students with family responsibilities as well as those with disabilities.

Framework Study and Examination Regulations of HWR Berlin in its current version (As of 16.3.2022 – Mitteilungsblatt der HWR Berlin 36/2022)

§ 20 Disadvantage Compensation

  1. The submission of a written application providing proof of a disadvantage in comparison to other candidates resulting from a disability or chronic illness can result in the granting to the student of appropriate disadvantage compensation. This also applies to pregnant women falling under the terms of the German maternity leave legislation (Mutterschutzgesetz). This disadvantage compensation should seek to equalize the disadvantage resulting from the disability and may not amount to a reduction in the performance requirements.
  2. Applications can also be granted to provide disadvantage compensation for candidates subject to acute, personal, time-restricted impairment as well as the requirement to care for close dependants in accordance with § 7 section 3 Pflegezeitgesetz.
  3. The specifics of disadvantage compensation awarded are to be decided by the competent examination board. The examination board is to consult the HWR Berlin disabilities officer and can include the examiners affected in its decision-making process.
  4. Suitable documents with disadvantage compensation recommendations (standardly medical certificates) are to be presented to inform decisions pertaining to disadvantage compensation. The application must be submitted to the competent examination board in sufficient time as to enable a decision to be made before commencement of the examination.