A quarter of the UK's student population sitting exams this summer will achieve lower than expected grades because of pollen allergies, according to new research.
A new study from The National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at University College Worcester has found a strong correlation between hayfever and underperformance during summer exams.
Analysis of exam results from four institutions - the University of Cambridge, University College Worcester, Napier University Edinburgh and London Metropolitan University - provided strong evidence that up to two-thirds of students with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR, commonly referred to as hayfever) underperformed in a day with a medium or high pollen count.
Students at Cambridge seem to be most affected, with the majority (63 per cent) producing lower grades than their average on high or moderately high pollen count days.
In Worcester, 46 per cent of students taking at least one exam on a day with a medium or high pollen count had their lowest mark of the summer exams on that day. A total of 1,308 students took part in the survey, carried out between summer 2003 and winter 2004.
Professor Jean Emberlin, head of the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at University College Worcester and who led the research, said the results would have huge implications for the future, especially with pollen seasons increasing year on year because of climate change.
"We already know hayfever has high socioeconomic costs - either directly through treatment or indirectly through decreased productivity caused by absence, or impaired performance."