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08/16/2021 | Pressemitteilung

New study on studying with illness and disability starts

Why do students with disabilities or chronic illnesses drop out of their studies more frequently? What preventive measures are already taking effect? And what other measures and disadvantage compensation could help? A new study by the University of Kassel, which is being conducted in cooperation with various disciplines, is addressing these questions. It is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with approximately 583,000 euros.

Image: University of Kassel.
Not only the lecture hall, but also the teaching and learning environment must be be barrier-free for students with disabilities or chronic illness.

"Almost 11 percent of students at German universities are affected by one or more forms of health impairment. In an international comparison, Germany in particular has a problem with dropouts. Although there is great interest in preventing dropouts, there is still a gap in research on dropouts in connection with health," explains Prof. Dr. Alfons Hollederer, Professor of Health Care Theory and Empiricism at the University of Kassel. The university's new research project "ErfolgInklusiv - Studienerfolg bei Krankheit und Behinderung durch Nachteilsausgleich, Beratung, Gesundheitsförderung und Inklusion" aims to close this gap.

The researchers are investigating the academic success of students with chronic illness and disability, using the University of Kassel as an example. To this end, they are analyzing the effectiveness of disadvantage compensation during examinations, psychosocial counseling, health promotion, disability-related social services and social networks of students on academic success or dropout.

For the study, all of the nearly 25,000 students at the University of Kassel are to be surveyed at the end of the winter semester 2021/2022. A second survey is planned at another measurement point. In parallel, a legal-sociological analysis will run for three years.

Finding and developing prevention potential

Through the results of the study, the researchers hope to derive helpful instruments for students that can be used by teachers in a goal-oriented manner. "Although there are already instruments for compensating for disadvantages, these are not very standardized from a professional point of view. Students with visual impairments, for example, need different support than students with a mental illness," explains Hollederer. The study is thus also intended to raise awareness of the challenges faced by students with disabilities.

"We are combining the scientific strength of the University of Kassel from health science, university research and participation and health law," Hollederer emphasizes. He will be responsible for the quantitative empirical survey at his department. Dr. Shweta Mishra from the International Centre for Higher Education Research Kassel will focus on the qualitative analysis of the survey and international comparative aspects. Prof. Dr. Felix Welti from the Department of Social and Health Law, Law of Rehabilitation and Disability will take over the research and analysis of the German and Hessian law for students with disabilities and its implementation. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has set new impulses here in recent years. As the University of Kassel's representative for studies and disability and a member of the advisory board of the Information Office for Disability and Studies at the German Student Union, Welti is also practically involved in the work for barrier-free studies.

The project is funded in the BMBF funding line "Study Success and Dropout" of the Science and Higher Education Research (WIHO) in the amount of 582,654 euros with a duration of three years.

Short presentation of the project:

The project is currently looking for a research assistant:



Prof. Dr. Alfons Hollederer
(Project Management)

Department "Theory and Empiricism of Health Care"
E-Mail: alfons.hollederer[at]uni-kassel[dot]de