Page last updated at 01:51 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Cloudy weather 'increases university appeal'

Grey clouds
Grey clouds could have a silver lining for university applications

Students who attend university open days when the weather is cloudy have an increased likelihood of applying there, claims research.

The research, published by the Royal Economic Society, found that an increase in cloud cover could be linked to a 9% rise in enrolment.

The author, Uri Simonsohn, said students seemed to associate cloudy days with study and homework.

The findings were based on applications from 1,200 students to a US university.

Dr Simonsohn, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said the survey examining the influence of the weather on application choices suggested that cloudy days were perceived as "more inviting to academic activities".

The study was based on records of visitors to an unnamed university in the north-eastern United States.

The number of applicants offered a place and those who subsequently enrolled, were compared with the cloud cover measurements on the days they visited.

The report claimed previous studies, which have shown that students preferred doing homework during bad weather, could explain why school leavers wanted to enrol at the universities they visited on cloudy days.

'English weather'

Psychologist Alexander Gardner thinks the weather can have an effect on decision making, but this could be due to the electrical charge of the air.

Students at a university library
The research found students associated cloudy days with studying

"I would not think a student would come to university and say: 'I'm going there because it is cloudy.' They would look at the facilities and clubs there."

The research claimed other factors influencing a student's choice could include the experiences on the day, for example a cheerful tour guide would leave visitors feeling that the university was a friendly place.

Cary Cooper, a psychologist at Lancaster University Management School, believes there are many influences that could affect a student's choice.

"It's a variety - quality of the subject area and social and personal quality."

Professor Cooper acknowledges that American students tackle university in a different way to their British counterparts, with many Americans staying in their hometown for financial reasons.

"It's a big deal in Britain and it is an adult experience... leaving home," he said.

"Students shouldn't take the weather into account, with the English weather that might be a problem."

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