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This paper presents a Variable Structure Adaptive Backstepping Controller (VS-ABC) for linear plants with arbitrary relative degree, using only input/output measurements. In order to improve the transient response, switching laws are proposed in the adaptive backstepping approach via modular design, instead of the integral adaptive laws. Furthermore, simplified algorithms are presented for the VS-ABC, motivating applications on industrial environments. Simulation results for an unstable system with relative degree three are shown.