• Study highlights lack of university AI policies for students

    960 640 Stuart O'Brien

    With the academic year drawn to a close, many students will eagerly be awaiting their end-of-year results. But how many students will have used AI to aid in their studies? A recent study by recruitment agency Ambitions Personnel used Freedom of Information data from the UK’s largest universities to find out whether they had a specific policy relating to AI.

    The research shows that only UCL has a specific policy relating to AI. UCL also stated that they currently have multiple groups working on their policies and procedures relating to AI and will update such policies dependent on the outcomes of their findings regarding AI usage. UCL’s current policy regarding AI is of the standpoint that the university will support its students in using AI effectively, ethically and transparently.

    The University of Edinburgh also sees AI software as presenting opportunities for learning and is actively looking at ways in which course design and assessments may be able to incorporate these new technologies.

    Meanwhile, the University of Nottingham amended its academic misconduct policy to include a reference to AI. The policy states that if a student has used a third party and/or software tool to help complete an assessment either in part or in full, then it could be considered false authorship.

    The University of Manchester is yet to have a specific policy on AI, but they have said that multiple groups within the university are working on it. Their current Academic Malpractice Procedure does, for the most part, cover malpractice arising from the use of AI, even though it doesn’t mention it specifically.

    Only the University of Leeds and the University of Glasgow have dealt with student breaches involving AI in the past academic year. The Univerisity of Leeds reported fewer than five cases, and the University of Glasgow reported four cases that were referred to the University’s Senate Assessors and were concluded. In each case, the student was found to have breached the Code of Student Conduct and was given a penalty.

    University Policies

    University Student AI Policy Staff AI Policy Creating a Policy AI Included in Academic Misconduct Breaches In favour of AI to Assist Academia
    Open University
    University of Edinburgh
    University of Leeds
    University of Manchester
    University of Sheffield
    University of Nottingham
    Kings College London N/A
    University of Glasgow

    Student Opinion

    According to a poll on a ‘UK University’ subreddit asking whether students had used AI to assist them in their degree, out of 402 respondents, 83% responded with no and 17% answered yes. The comments on the poll indicated that the majority of students are against the use of AI in their degree and were unhappy at the thought of others using it as they deemed it cheating.

    One Reddit user commented: “No, I didn’t use an AI to write my dissertation; I used my brain. If you use ChatGPT or any other AI to assist you in writing, then quite frankly, you don’t deserve to be on your course or any profession related to that course.”

    Another who had used AI to assist in the degree said: “I used chatGPT to help me structure my work and come up with new ideas/theories but never have directly copied and pasted anything.”

    Mandy Watson, Director of Ambitions Personnel, said: “We have seen how AI has transformed how people think and work over the last six months. AI tools can be very useful in streamlining processes, generating ideas and furthering skills and capabilities in the workplace.

    Our only concern with students using AI to assist in their degree is that they may become too reliant on it. Once these students are in the workplace, they won’t always be able to rely on AI to solve a problem. There will be times when they have to think for themselves, be that strategically, creatively or proactively.”


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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