Since ChatGPT appeared on the scene at the end of 2022, we have seen very divergent reactions by universities towards this new chatbot technology. Very quickly, it became clear that ChatGPT and the many Generative AI applications that followed will impact significantly on activities at educational institutions, and on universities in particular. The question that emerged, was whether the technology should be banned or embraced, tolerated or incorporated into the work assignments of students. How should universities respond by way of policies? And how soon should they react, given the fluid situation regarding these AI applications?
Both university managers and lecturers have been waiting for some kind of a survey that could give an indication of how universities are reacting.
Yesterday, May 25th, a first report of an international nature on university policies on AI was posted on a well-known social sciences website.
The title of the paper by P. Xiao & others is significant: “Waiting, Banning, and Embracing: An Empirical Analysis of Adapting Policies for Generative AI in Higher Education”.
The paper (at this stage, a “Preliminary Draft”) can be downloaded from the SSRN’s Generative AI Special Topic Hub: https://www.ssrn.com/index.cfm/en/AI-GPT-3/
The study analyzed the top 500 universities according to the 2022 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. Their findings “indicate that there is significant variation in university ChatGPT policies. Less than one-third of the universities included in the study had implemented ChatGPT policies. Of the universities with such policies, approximately 67.4% embraced ChatGPT in teaching and learning, which is more than twice the number of universities that banned it.”
Universities also differ in how long they take to issue policy for ChatGPT, with European and North American universities responding faster to new technological tools by way of policy advice and support.
The study identifies several factors that are significantly and positively correlated with a university’s likelihood of having a ChatGPT policy.
This study is important reading for persons involved in higher education – leadership, faculty and professional administrative and support staff.