University of Sussex Statement on Advances in Technology and Academic Integrity
By: Katie Piatt
Last updated: Monday, 20 March 2023
The University of Sussex take academic integrity very seriously. Academic misconduct is an attempt to gain unfair advantage by cheating, it can be intentional or unintentional. Academic Misconduct is a risk to the standards and reputation of university degrees and awards and undermines the Academic Integrity Values that all Sussex students are expected to follow. These values are honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility.
All Sussex students should be proud of the work they produce, and confident in the value of their award when they graduate.
The emergence of new artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT, is impacting education and assessment of university students globally. Whilst AI tools appear to produce work which is convincing and sophisticated, the generated outputs frequently contain errors and inaccuracies which can be detected during the marking process. The University needs to be able to respond to this and other future advances in technology.
This statement lays out the current university position and approach, along with longer term plans to address the challenges of continually-advancing technologies.
Clarification on the Academic Misconduct process
The University updated its Academic Misconduct policy in January 2023 to clarify that software, such as AI generated text or responses, cannot be submitted as students’ own work, unless explicitly permitted in the assessment guidance from the module convenor. We acknowledge use of AI in some disciplines is valid, but it must be made clear in the assessment guidance (rubric) where this is permitted. This change is with immediate effect.
Where there is a suspicion that AI has been used in a submitted assessment, an investigation will take place and the usual academic misconduct personation procedure will be followed. If the allegation is upheld by the Academic Misconduct Panel, an academic misconduct flag will be added to the student’s permanent academic record and a penalty, for example reducing the assessment mark to zero, will be applied.
The University approach
The University is taking the approach that through innovative, authentic, and appropriate assessment design, along with staff and student education, we can continue to measure attainment through a wide range of assessments.
“We don’t need to revert to in-person exams: this is a great opportunity for the sector to explore new assessment techniques that measure learners on critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills rather than essay-writing abilities” (JISC, 2023)
The University will positively embrace the opportunities presented through the Curriculum Reimagined programme to work in partnership with students, building trust in assessment processes that are co-created, iterative, and supportive of critical thinking.
We realise, in this rapidly changing environment, that continually updated discussions, support and guidance is required through working with students and staff. This is likely to take the form of briefings and collaborative work on best-practice for staff, and the provision of resources to use with their students.
“Humans plus technology are the way forward. As educators, we have to teach our students what that means in practice. The essay isn’t dead, but the process of creating one is changing.” (Times Higher, 2022)