Studying with a disability
Studying with a disability may require additional time and effort. Find out what support is available at Leiden University and consider what might be helpful in your particular situation.
A disability is a physical or mental impairment or other long-term limitation. This could be for example:
- a visual, auditory or physical disability;
- a learning disability (for example dyslexia);
- a chronic or psychological illness.
Studying with a disability may require additional time and effort. It’s a good idea to look into the additional support available and consider what would be helpful in your particular situation. Some of the options available are:
Adaptations to meet your needs
Adaptations can be made to the ways in which you follow classes and take exams. However, this depends largely on your personal situation, and you will need to make contact with staff from Fenestra Disability Centre to assess what is feasible. You will also need to present some form of evidence for why these adaptations apply to your situation.
Special arrangements and facilities offered by Leiden University are:
- Free reading tool: text-to-speech software
- Extensions to assignment deadlines
- Partial exemptions from tutorial attendance requirements
- Alternative assignments
- Recording lectures/tutorials
- Adapted lecture timetables and tutorial arrangements
- Additional time for exams (maximum of 30 minutes extra for a three hour exam)
- Examination papers in a larger format
- Taking examinations in a separate room with fewer students
- Having an alternative type of examination
- Use of laptop for examinations
- Alternative study plan with a reduced workload
- Taking personal circumstances into consideration for your BSA (Binding Study Advice)
Take a look below for further information about the guidance available. Leiden University also offers workshops on subjects such as study techniques and personal development. You could also consider looking at the many websites that offer tips about effective studying.
In some cases financial compensation can be awarded if you incur additional costs as a result of academic delay, adaptive measures, or the use of physical aids. There are financial regulations in place that are applicable to students with a disability.
Protocol on studying with a disability
The protocol on studying with a disability is intended to provide clear information about studying with a disability at Leiden University.
If you have any questions or need advice you are welcome to contact Fenestra Disability Centre, Leiden University’s information centre for students with a disability. Fenestra’s experienced and professional staff are there to help you successfully complete your studies at Leiden University. Make sure to let your study adviser know that you have requested advice from Fenestra.
If you need extra assistance, guidance or adaptations there are several staff members who can help. Who you should speak to depends on the nature of your situation.
Every study programme has a study adviser who is familiar with the structure of the programme. He or she is your point of contact for any study-related issues. On the basis of advice issued by Fenestra your study adviser will discuss any educational adaptations that are required with the board of examiners. Your study adviser will also oversee your academic progress and assist if you need to make use of the regulations on financial support for students.
Our student counsellors can be found at Plexus Student Centre. They are experts in rules and regulations and can provide advice and assistance if you fall behind in your studies, or want to submit a request on the basis of a specific regulation or provision. Two student counsellors are appointed to Fenestra disability centre.
Our student psychologists can offer advice on both academic and personal issues. You are welcome to come by to briefly discuss your problems during their open consultation hours. The student psychologist will then decide what the best course of action is for you, for example referral to another organisation or staff member, further meetings with a student psychologist, or perhaps a training course. If you need specialist or long-term assistance the student psychologist can help you to find the right therapist or organisation.
Our student psychologists give regular workshops on studying and personal development. If you have issues with time-management and planning you can also request personal coaching. By carrying out assignments and keeping a note of your time usage you can gain a clearer picture of where you are going wrong and how you can make improvements.
Study choice and career advisers
Study choice and career advisers can help you to choose the right study programme and assist you in your transition to the job market. A special test has been developed for people with a disability to help with career choices. This test can help you evaluate if (or to what extent) your disability might affect your ability to carry out a particular profession. Read more about working with a disability.
Fenestra Disability Centre
The Fenestra Disability Centre provides advice on all disability-related matters. As well as assisting students with requests for extra facilities, Fenestra can also offer advice during the application process and give general information on finding your way both within and outside the university.
At the start of your studies you will have an introductory meeting with a lecturer or study advisor. From that point onwards your academic well-being will be overseen by a mentor. This will be either a (senior) student or a lecturer. Many mentors hold regular meetings with their mentor group.
If you are having difficulties finding your way within your new student programme as the result of a disability you may be able to request additional support. This support comes in the form of a buddy, who is a senior student from the same study programme. Students with an autistic spectrum disorder often make use of the buddy system. To request a buddy please contact Fenestra Disability Centre.
Choice of study programme
You will enjoy your studies more if you make good academic progress. It is therefore important to choose a study programme that suits your interests and abilities. Some programmes suit students with a particular disability better than others. Research your options thoroughly. Not only before choosing a programme but also before choosing options within your programme.
You can find detailed course descriptions and methodologies in the Prospectus. Make an inventory of the problems you think you might encounter and the steps needed to overcome them. You can also request advice from a study adviser, Fenestra Disability Centre or the student careers service.
The only way to achieve optimal academic progress is to study for at least 40 hours per week. If your disability prevents you from doing so it is essential that you take this into account and draw up a realistic study plan in collaboration with your department. The university stresses this point, not only because it wants its student to do well but also because of its duties as laid down in the Equal Opportunities Act and Higher Education and Academic Research Act. These acts state that all educational institutions must adapt their education and testing methods as best they can to meet the needs of students with a disability, in so far as this can be reasonably expected.