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Professor calls for universities to test students for performance enhancing drugs

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A leading academic has called for universities to carry out drug tests on students before exams.

Professor Barbara Sahakian, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, said students should be screened for brain enhancing drugs such as Ritalin in the same way sportsmen and women are. The Telegraph reports that a recent survey of Cambridge University students revealed that one in 10 has taken drugs such as Ritalin to improve concentration and performance.

Professor Sahakian said that thousands of students were buying the drug through the black market and online, with some students even faking ADHD symptoms to get legitimate prescriptions.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) is said to have launched an investigation into the growing prescription levels of the drug.

Prof Sahakian said increasing numbers of students were complaining to her that their peers were taking the drug and gaining an unfair advantage.

“Many students have said that they feel it is cheating that some students use ‘smart drugs’ in exams,” she said. “It is difficult for universities practically to address these issues, but they should have clear policy statements in regard to the use of cognitive enhancing drugs.”

She added that universities are yet to get a grip on the problem and while none seem to encourage its use, none are actively doing anything to actively dissuade students from using the drugs.

“If there were random testing in exam situations, it should act as a deterrent,” she said.

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