In order to prevent the usage of alertness and attention boosting drugs by students during exams, UK universities must introduce random dope tests, a Cambridge University professor has said.
The Guardian quoted Barbara Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge University's psychiatry department, as saying that student use of drugs, such as Ritalin and modafinil, available over the internet and are used to increase the brain's alertness.
Normally prescribed for neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, such drugs boost acetylcholine in the brain, improving alertness and attention.
"This is something that universities really have to discuss. They should have some strategy, some kind of active policy," Sahakian said, adding that usage of these drugs could give students an unfair advantage.
"The coercion aspect is a strong one. Some students say they feel it is cheating, and it puts pressure on them to feel they have to use these drugs when they don't really want to," she added.
Though data on long-term effects on healthy users was not yet available, some scientists fear that pharmaceutical advancement and cultural acceptance could make "cosmetic neurology" as popular as beauty "enhancements".
Surveys in the United States indicate that 16 percent of university students are using "smart drugs".