AI at UTS: How students feel and what you can and can’t do
With UTS students having finished their first exam season in the new era of AI, the gray area surrounding the ethical and moral use of AI in their studies has left some students divided.
Business and Information Technology student, Leon Gellen, says he feels like study habits will gradually change as AI technology continues to develop over time.
“Rather than attempting to use it to find the answer themselves, people use AI as a crutch,” he said. “Instead of working through the steps, people give up and just use it to find the answer, even if the answer is correct, students end up being unable to properly solve questions by themselves.”
Gellen also said AI should be used ethically for study, however, noted that sometimes AI is not always correct when giving an answer. When Vertigo asked ChatGPT who the current Vice Chancellor of UTS is, ChatGPT responded:
“As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) was Professor Attila Brungs. However, please note that university leadership positions can change over time, and it's always a good idea to verify the current information from reliable sources. I recommend checking the official website of UTS or conducting an online search to find the most up-to-date information on the Vice-Chancellor of UTS.”
Professor Atilla Brungs left his role at UTS in October of 2021 and is now the Vice Chancellor of UNSW. Datasets in these programs are often not updated, providing users with old information.
Communications student, Emily Cokely, also shared Gellen’s concerns about the accuracy of AI programs often not being up to date.
“I would say I’m reluctant to use it in a university context because I don’t trust its accuracy and am concerned about the ethics surrounding plagiarism both in terms of my personal values and how it is viewed by the university,” she said. “I am overall unsure about how much use of AI is acceptable.”
Cokely also shared concerns about the future of industries that are at risk of being taken over by AI. Jobs such as script writing in the film industry are currently a vocal issue in the United States with the Writers Guild of America going on a month-long strike.
“I believe these negative consequences will not only be felt by the affected workers but will also appear in the quality of the work produced.”
Access to AI programs such as ChatGPT, a chatbot that can answer any prompts or questions given to it by a user, has potential to drastically change higher education for both students and staff.
UTS Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President (Education and Students) Professor Kylie Readman spoke to Vertigo on the impact AI has on misconduct policy.
Prof. Readman specified that the ever-growing capabilities of AI as a tool to cheat will change the way assessments are marked.
“We know [AI] can create passing quality assessments, which brings me to the question of how assessments will have to change in order to verify that the person is getting their qualification,” Readman says.
“This matters in every discipline, but for some it is an actual life or death decision. We want to know that when we’re being cared for by a nurse, that that person has done the work that is required to look after our health and understand the implications,” Readman said.
Like many universities across the country, UTS is now responding to the use of AI as the technology continues to evolve. Rather than outright banning the use of AI, UTS has instead been updating its policies surrounding misconduct.
Section 16.2.1 of UTS Student Rules now explicitly discusses the use of AI as part of its misconduct policy. Using AI programs to claim one's work as one's own without declaration of the use of AI falls under student misconduct.
A similar policy model was approved this year by Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, which will now require students to disclose if AI was used in their studies.
“We’ve got misconduct procedures in place they incorporate, and have made more explicit where and how AI can be used in assessments. It requires subject coordinators to articulate that,” Prof. Readman says.
Prof. Readman clarified that AI can be used as a tool of research, however, it cannot be used to complete assignments. As per UTS policy, it falls under plagiarism, with Section 16.2.1 also stating that the use of AI is considered student misconduct unless permitted use of the program is specified.
“We’re taking a stance of saying that we need assessments to be ethical on both sides,” Prof. Readman says. “We need to create things students can feasibly utilise to demonstrate their learning, but students also need to approach them ethically and recognise it’s bigger than passing their assessment task.”