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AI and Academia – Balancing Innovation with Integrity According to Provosts

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Introduction

An article in Inside Higher Ed (Quinn, 2024) offers insight into the annual Provost Survey, discussing the necessity for artificial intelligence (AI) policies and concerns surrounding academic integrity. Notably, this is the first instance of a survey that posed questions regarding AI usage within higher education institutions, yielding intriguing results.

Survey Findings

The first significant finding in Figure 1 reveals that only 20% of institutions have published a policy on AI usage for teaching and research. Conversely, 92% of the faculty members responded affirmatively to requesting additional training on generative AI developments. This leads to the following question: How much training has been provided? According to the survey, only 78% of institutions have offered generative AI training to staff in the past 18 months.

Furthermore, alarmingly, 73% of institutions have not reviewed their curricula to ensure adequate preparation for students entering the workforce. Although academic institutions bear the primary responsibility of equipping students for their future careers, it remains unclear whether the review processes are underway.

Figure 1: 2024 Provost survey on AI acceptance and implementation

Figure 1: 2024 Provost survey on AI acceptance and implementation
Source: Quinn 2024

Figure 2 illustrates the potential threat of generative AI to academic integrity. The article reported that 47% were moderately concerned, 20% were very concerned, and 6% were extremely concerned, while 25% were only slightly concerned. It would be informative to compare these figures with general concerns about academic integrity, as this is a perennial issue affecting both student and institutional reputations. Assessing the impact of AI on academic integrity in isolation may be insufficient without considering the broader context.

Figure 2: Provost’s concern about academic integrity risks of AI

Figure 2: Provost’s concern about academic integrity risks of AI
Source: Quinn 2024

Figure 3 illustrates the extent of enthusiasm regarding AI’s potential to enhance their institutions’ capabilities, presumably including the success of students. A mere 2% were not enthusiastic, 15% were slightly enthusiastic, and the remaining respondents expressed moderate to high enthusiasm. It is worth to note that these individuals, who participated in the survey, essentially govern the implementation and policy development of AI within their respective organisations.

Figure 3: Provost’s level of enthusiasm on AI

Figure 3: Provost’s level of enthusiasm on AI
Source: Quinn 2024

In summary, Provost’s survey findings on AI acceptance and implementation underscore the need for higher education institutions to address AI policies and concerns regarding academic integrity. As technology continues to advance rapidly, it is imperative for educational establishments to adapt accordingly and ensure that they adequately prepare students for the evolving workforce landscape.

Reviewing other AI policies requires maintenance of confidentiality for the purposes of this article. However, other academic integrity and generative AI policies appear to have been approached from a punitive perspective. Assessing the level of expertise of those drafting the policies is challenging, as their names do not appear in the documents themselves. Nonetheless, it often seems that the language used suggests a limited understanding of the subject matter, with authors researching the area in a generic manner, rather than possessing advanced knowledge in the field.

Conclusion

In conclusion, artificial intelligence and generative AI represent unstoppable progressions in the future. Halting this advancement would be akin to impeding motor cars with horses or attempting to prevent the industrial revolution. This metaphorical train rapidly accelerates with ever increasing momentum.

The most significant concern arising from this analysis is the number of organisations that lack a generative AI policy. Despite the survey being about higher education institutions, there and potentially similar parallels within business and, more particularly, small businesses, community organisations, and non-profits. It is imperative that organisations promptly establish and communicate generative AI policies with their stakeholders to address this issue and include the issue of AI adoption within their strategic plans.

References

  • Quinn, R. (2024, April 16). Provosts’ survey shows need for AI policies, speech worries. Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/tech-innovation/artificial-intelligence/2024/04/16/provosts-survey-shows-need-ai-policies
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