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Cambridge students ADHD

Cambridge students are being accused of faking ADHD in order to get extra time in exams

A doctor said she has noticed a ‘massive spike’ in students wanting a diagnosis


Students at The University of Cambridge are being accused of faking ADHD in order to get extra time in exams.

Dr Fiona Cornish, a GP in Cambridge, said she noticed a “massive spike” in students wanting a letter to give an ADHD diagnosis before exams start.

This would allow them to get extra time and other special arrangements for exams. The doctor said: “I don’t know anyone who went to an ADHD clinic who hasn’t come back with a diagnosis. And then you go on amphetamines and of course, you perform better in exams if you’re on amphetamines.”

Doctors in Cambridge have been given template letters to write to tutors saying that a student’s medical condition “has impaired their ability to prepare for or to perform in their academic work or examinations”.

The template gives doctors a series of options about what exam arrangements students should be allowed, including taking the exams in a quiet room rather than an exam hall or getting 25 per cent more time.

The doctor at Newnham Walk Surgery in Cambridge said that when she began working as a GP 30 years ago, it was very rare for students to get extra time in exams and usually only if they had physical problems such as wrist injuries which harmed their ability to write.

Cambridge students ADHD

Via Canva

She told The Times: “It has been gradually increasing, and since the pandemic, the numbers with mental health problems has really gone up.

“We look after lots of highly intelligent Cambridge students who think they have autism, ADHD, anxiety and depression and want to get assessed. I suppose people think that if they get a better deal in the exams, then why not apply.

“Students are more aware of ADHD and mental health problems, so lots of people who were really struggling are now getting the help they need, whereas in the past they would have suffered.

“But I really think the pendulum has swung too far the other way. ADHD is really big in student health circles, a lot of specialist clinics have been set up so people can get a private ADHD diagnosis.”

The doctor said she was concerned that these students wouldn’t be prepared for work after university if everything was “laid on for them” to take exams. “When they’re at school and university everything can be modified for you, but when you get in the workplace those things are not going to happen. The workplace can be stressful and you can’t avoid all the stress,” she said.

NHS figures show the number of people diagnosed with ADHD has doubled in the past six years, with 230,000 people in England now taking drugs such as Ritalin to treat the condition.

Featured image via Canva. 

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