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How to Request Academic Accommodations When Studying Abroad

When you make the decision to study abroad with AIFS, it may seem that our application process is intense and that we request a variety of information — from the mundane, such as where do you go to school, what is your major, which classes do you want to take, to the more personal, such as who is your emergency contact, and do you have any allergies or dietary restrictions.  

We will also ask if you require any academic accommodations. If you have a neurological or cognitive disability, you might need extra testing time, a note-taker, some peer support, or professional counseling while abroad. Most of these academic accommodations are possible in many of our locations but they are far easier to put in place if we can discuss them in detail with you, and maybe your advisor at your home university, before you arrive at your program location.  

In a survey of all AIFS Study Abroad locations, staff was able to confirm the following accommodations: 

  • 100% of our host universities could provide extra time for exams 
  • 100% of our host universities could provide an alternate test location 
  • 56% of our host universities agreed lectures be recorded as an accommodation 
  • 44% of our host universities stated that lectures could possibly be recorded  

While we strive to make all our programs accessible to a diverse student body and have shown great strides in achieving many of our goals, in order to provide a high-quality academic study abroad experience, we often work with local host universities who may not apply academic accommodations in the same way as your home institution. For this reason, we ask that you contact us in advance with clear details of your needs so that we can contact our partner schools and discuss how best to work together. Our experience has shown that early communication enables both sides to find a comfortable situation in which to work. Cultural immersion and adapting to new methods are all part of the enriching and life-changing experience that is study abroad! 

Below are some comments from local AIFS Study Abroad Resident Directors concerning academic accommodations available with their program: 

France 

Université Grenoble Alpes, CUEF (French language programs) – Students need to provide official proof from their home school of their needs. The Grenoble university health center must approve and validate this request at least 9 weeks before final exams, hence the importance of knowing in advance. The Resident Director can help translate documents, although most campus doctors will accept the US request in English. While additional time, quiet space, use of a computer in class, not penalizing student spelling, is possible, recording lectures is at the discretion of the professor. It should be noted that the on-line placement test does not allow for extra time, but once in Grenoble, placement can be modified where necessary. 

Grenoble Ecole de Management (Business program) – They will accept US documentation in English and the school has an internal process to validate academic accommodation requests. The process must be completed shortly after arrival at the school, and they need to be made aware of the academic accommodations during the program application process. 

Germany 

In Berlin, special academic accommodations, such as adjusted testing environment and/or time, note-taking, use of laptop during exams and others can be arranged, but only if an official diagnosis or notification is submitted to the program in writing by qualified staff at the home institution. Recording lectures is at the discretion of the professor.  

Spain 

UAB, UPF and UVic and the study abroad department at the three local universities need to approve and validate requests for additional time, quiet space, use of computer, not taking spelling into account, etc. Students must provide official proof from home school of their needs – if it is a medical condition, the local university will request a medical report as well. This can be submitted in English as local universities understand those requests. These documents must be sent during registration time – so during application with AIFS – approx. two months prior to arrival. If local universities do not receive those documents and requests prior to the student’s arrival on campus, they will not be accepted. Once on campus, each student needs to talk directly to their professor and explain exactly what they need (extra time, power points, etc) but the professors would also have received that information in advance and when the student arrives, they just need to define the terms. 

Ireland 

Maynooth has its own office (access office) that is solely responsible for looking after any accommodations that students need while in Maynooth. Students who need any sort of help would be fully supported during their stay in Maynooth. The procedure for students is that they would be assigned a staff member from the access office who would meet with a student to talk through the accommodations they need. This talk can take place virtually. All accommodations need to be supported with documents from the home university. The earlier a student tells us about their needs, the easier it is for all at AIFS Study Abroad and Maynooth to set in place all the help that a student needs. 

Italy 

The Rome Center welcomes applications from students with additional needs and facilitates effective reasonable academic and campus life accommodations for all students who disclose a disability, meet the eligibility criteria and request accommodations in order to ensure equal access to its programs, services, and activities. Students with a documented specific learning difficulty, mental health condition or physical disability need to provide AIFS with the appropriate documentation at the point of admission to the program, or as soon as possible after enrollment. Students are reminded that it is their responsibility to make arrangements in advance of time with program staff and faculty to ensure that their accommodation can be provided. 

Whatever specific academic accommodations you may need, we will support you throughout the process. Study abroad is a wonderful opportunity, and we aim to provide access to everyone. If you have any questions about available accommodations for disabilities, please email us at studyabroad@aifs.com.  

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