Oxford and Cambridge University Ban ChatGPT Joining Others In UK
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Oxford and Cambridge Ban ChatGPT Joining Other Russell Group Unis

Jasmyne Jeffery March 2, 2023

The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge ban ChatGPT, joining other Russell Group institutions. With fears of using artificial intelligence to plagiarise essays, more and more are banning it. However, some universities are choosing to embrace it.

Regarded as some of the best educational institutes in the world, both Cambridge and Oxford University are now not permitting students to use the controversial AI chatbot in their assignments. They join a list doing the same, meaning that 8 of the top-regarded Russell Group universities have made the same decision.

A Third Of Russell Group Universities Ban Chat GPT

Oxford and Cambridge join 6 other Russell Group universities to ban ChatGPT, meaning a third of the prestigious group have taken these steps. Universities include Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh, with more expected to follow suit.

Now, over 40 per cent of UK universities have either banned or are in the process of banning the technology

Although artificial intelligence technology isn’t brand new to technology, the sophistication of ChatGPT has those in the education sector concerned. The bot can respond to prompts comparing degree-level specialisms and topics, offering a thousand words that could pass as a student, even if it’s not of the highest quality.

That alone would be enough to raise plagiarism worries, but there’s one thing that’s very appealing to students: the lack of a paywall. With ChatGPT being free and easy to use, it’s not difficult to see what students are turning to it to help them out.

Understandably, the influx of AI-generated essays means that universities have had to change the way assessments work. There are proposals of returning to pen and paper to avoid students from using the bot. Institutions can ban ChatGPT and even restrict it on their servers. However, there’s nothing stopping students from using it at home.

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Oxford And Cambridge University Ban ChatGPT

The University of Oxford has said that they are working with exam boards to minimise the impact of ChatGPT on the current assessed work. However, they plan to give more guidance going forward. For now, students have been told that using the chatbot is strictly prohibited.

However, its Oxbridge counterpart has taken even more steps. The University of Cambridge told i that each of its departments would be getting guidance on the issue. Their priority is that the “integrity of the assessments” was not lost.

As a warning to students, a spokesperson said of the consequences of students not writing their own work:

“Students must be the authors of their own work. Content produced by AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, does not represent the student’s own original work so would be considered a form of academic misconduct to be dealt with under the university’s disciplinary procedures.”

28 other universities are also changing their conduct procedures to reflect the concerns of artificial intelligence. Currently, Cambridge gives students a mark of zero for plagiarised work or marks down their whole year of assessments. Those who have written work for somebody else can be stripped of university qualifications.

Some Universities Are Embracing Artificial Intelligence

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Glasgow University, Heriot-Watt and University College London are taking different steps to try and utilise ChatGPT.

Though vague, Glasgow said that they want to look into “how students can be advised to use large language models responsibly in their coursework.”

Not only do Heriot-Watt want to recognise the AI, but they also go as far as to say they want to integrate it into the assessments. They say it raises some “exciting opportunities.”

Going even further than those two, UCL has given students ways of using ChatGPT on their website, including for bibliographies. Still wanting students to use it ethically, UCL “believe these tools are potentially transformative as well as disruptive. We will support you in using them effectively, ethically and transparently.”

How the AI will transform university assessments is yet to be known. However, it is already making changes in its short lifespan. Cambridge and Oxford University banning ChatGPT certainly shows how seriously it’s being taken.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.