Since ChatGPT launched last November, there have been concerns that generative AI could undermine academic integrity by allowing students to cheat on their assignments.
All 24 members of the Russell Group, which contains many of the UK’s top universities, have agreed on five guiding principles to inform their policy on generative AI.
These are: supporting students and staff to become AI-literate; equipping staff to support students in using generative AI tools; adapting teaching and assessment to incorporate the ethical use of generative AI and ensure equal access; ensuring academic rigour and that integrity is upheld; and working collaboratively to share best practices as AI evolves.
Whilst initially there was some talk of attempting to ban the use of these resources for university assignments, it was ultimately decided after consultation with experts in AI and education that the best approach was to teach students and staff to become AI-literate and encourage the use of generative AI in an ‘ethical’ manner.
We know that students are already utilising this technology, so the question for us as educators is how do you best prepare them for this
–Prof Andrew Brass, head of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester
Russell Group Chief Executive, Dr Tim Bradshaw, commented: “The transformative opportunity provided by AI is huge and our universities are determined to grasp it. This statement of principles underlines our commitment to doing so in a way that benefits students and staff and protects the integrity of the high-quality education Russell Group universities provide.”
Prof Andrew Brass, Head of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester, also commented on the matter, saying: “We know that students are already utilising this technology, so the question for us as educators is how do you best prepare them for this, and what are the skills they need to have to know how to engage with generative AI sensibly?”
The guidance has been well received by industry experts who have described it as a “wise move” that will prepare the future workforce, but some exam boards have advocated for more extreme action, such as forcing students to complete assignments under supervision.