UK universities have drawn up a set of guiding principles to ensure students and staff are fluent in AI, as the sector strives to adapt teaching and assessment methods to cope with growing use generative artificial intelligence.
The vice-chancellors of the 24 research-intensive universities of the Russell Group have signed the code. They say it will help universities take advantage of the opportunities of AI while simultaneously protecting academic rigor and integrity in higher education.
While there was once talk of banning software like ChatGPT as part of education to prevent cheating, the guidance says students should learn how to use AI appropriately in their studies, while raising awareness the risks of plagiarism, bias and inaccuracy in generative AI.
Staff will also need to be trained so they are equipped to help students, many of whom are already using ChatGPT in their homework. New ways of assessing students are likely to emerge to reduce the risk of cheating.
All 24 Russell Group universities have revised their academic conduct policies and guidelines to reflect the emergence of generative AI. The new guidelines state, “These policies make it clear to students and staff where the use of generative AI is inappropriate, and aim to help them make informed decisions and empower them to use these tools in a meaningful way. appropriate and acknowledge their use if necessary. ”
Developed in partnership with experts in AI and education, the principles represent a first step in what promises to be a time of challenging change in higher education as the world is increasingly transformed by AI.
The Five Guiding Principles state that universities will help both students and staff become AI literate; staff should be equipped to help students use generative AI tools appropriately; the sector will adapt teaching and assessment to integrate the “ethical” use of AI and ensure equal access; universities will ensure that academic integrity is respected; and share best practices as technology evolves.
Dr Tim Bradshaw, Managing Director of the Russell Group, said: “The transformational opportunity offered by AI is enormous and our universities are determined to seize it. This statement of principles underscores our commitment to do so in a way that benefits students and staff and protects the integrity of the high quality education that Russell Group universities provide.
Professor Andrew Brass, director of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester, said: “We know that students are already using this technology, so the question for us as educators is how best prepare them for this, and what skills do they need to know how to engage wisely with generative AI?
“From our perspective, it is clear that this cannot be imposed top down, but by working very closely with our students to co-create the guidance we provide. If there are restrictions, for example, it is crucial to clearly explain to students why they are in place, otherwise we will find that people will find a way around them.