Dr Cornish, a GP at Newnham Walk Surgery (pictured) claimed a 'massive spike' in ADHD diagnoses last monthMr Ignavy / Wikimedia Commons http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

ADHD diagnoses disclosures among Cambridge students have almost doubled in four years, Varsity can reveal, and the University has warned against “stigmatising mental health and neurodiverse conditions”.

Following a Cambridge GP’s assertion in the Times that students are gaming the system by “actively seeking” mental health and disability diagnoses to receive exam mitigation, Varsity has seen statistics which show an increase in ADHD diagnoses at the University.

The University, however, has claimed that the prevalence of the condition among Cambridge students remains below the national average, and has criticised “a blanket criticism of all diagnoses”.

In the year 2022/23, the number of students disclosing ADHD was 872, almost doubled from the 440 students who declared the condition in 2019/20, according to statistics given to Varsity by the University.

ADHD diagnoses have increased consistently by around 25% each year since 2019, according to the University’s statistics. In 2019/20 1.82% of students disclosed a diagnosis, with this proportion reaching 3.52% by 2022/23.

The University has said that they expect this to plateau to around 4% in the coming years.

Dr Fiona Cornish, a GP at Newnham Walk Surgery and a member of the University Health and Wellbeing Committee, said last month that she had seen a “massive spike” in ADHD diagnoses, and that “the pendulum has swung too far”.

“I don’t know anyone who went to an ADHD clinic who hasn’t come back with a diagnosis,” she said.

In a letter written in response to The Times′ article, a group of Cambridge academics warned against “stigmatising mental health and neurodiverse conditions”.


Mountain View

University expresses ‘serious reservations’ about reading week

The academics stressed that diagnoses are “made by a psychiatrist, and not just a letter from a GP. Prevalence rates for ADHD in Cambridge students are lower than the national average.”

John Harding, the Head of the Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre at Cambridge and one author of the letter, told Varsity that the increase in diagnoses is the dual product of “efforts to reduce the stigma” and “increase awareness” of the neurodiverse condition.

He also stressed that “ADHD is a clinically recognised diagnosis, made by a psychiatrist” and that “stigmatising mental health and neurodiverse conditions discourages students from seeking help”.

If you have any experience with an ADHD diagnosis or other mental or disability-related diagnosis at Newnham Walk Surgery GP, please reach out to news@varsity.co.uk.