Students with hay fever could miss out on university


Researchers believe the impact of hay fever during exam season, on a student’s performance, could be detrimental enough to end up causing some to miss out on their university place.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology looked at the effect of sitting exams during a time when pollen levels were high, on those who suffer from hay fever. They looked at Norwegian public exam results over three years, and their findings indicate it could lead to results for hay fever sufferers falling as much as 10 per cent.

The researchers found that on days when pollen levels were high, exam performances were consistently lower. The average fall in performance on high-pollen days was 2.5 per cent, whilst for those suffering an allergic reaction, their performance fell an estimated 10 per cent.

As a result, this information suggests that some students may be missing out on university places, or even future jobs, as they fail to achieve the required grades.

“Holding high-stakes exams during pollen season has a large negative effect on allergic students, who are subsequently unfairly barred from enrolling in the most prestigious universities,” said Simon Sobstad Bensnes, the report’s author.

In England, students who experience significant problems due to hay fever on an exam day can request for this to be taken into account by examiners, in order to reduce the detrimental effect it may have on their results.

The report said: “Increases in pollen counts can temporarily reduce cognitive abilities for allergic students, who will score worse relative to their peers on high stake exams, and consequently be at a disadvantage when competing for jobs or higher education.”

An estimated one in five people are believed to suffer from hay fever, which could also cause lower productivity levels in the workplace.