Six percent of Auckland University students are using drugs to enhance their performance in exams, a survey has found.
The study covered 400 students enrolled in nursing, medicine, pharmacy, accounting and law and found 6 percent were using drugs including Ritalin - commonly used to treat Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder - as cognitive enhancers.
The researcher behind the survey, Bruce Russell, said some people might regard the drug use as cheating, and tertiary institutes should develop a view on their use.
Performance-enhancing drugs were common in some fields of work but there was debate about their use in education, he said.
"Amphetamines are used, for example, by truck drivers to help them stay awake and pay attention when they're driving over long periods.
"It's not a new thing, I guess, just in this instance we're looking specifically at students.
"You could argue that it could be cheating but you could also argue that it's helping someone fulfil their ambitions."
Dr Russell doubted tertiary institutes could ban them, because random testing would be impractical.
The rate of drug use found in the was much lower than studies had found at some overseas universities, he said.