02 May 2024
by Rebecca Ellerington

SEB's Contribution to Evidence Gathering on AI in Higher Education

SEB's vital contribution to gathering evidence illuminates educators' views on integrating AI in higher education

SEB's Contribution to Evidence Gathering on AI in Higher Education

The UK's Department for Education (DfE) has recently sort to address the increasing presence of generative artificial intelligence (genAI) in education. Last March, the DfE outlined its stance on the integration of AI in educational settings, highlighting the potential challenges and opportunities that accompany these rapid advancements.

To gauge educators' perspectives on the matter, the DfE initiated a call for evidence. Responding to this call on behalf of the bioscience community was the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), with the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) contributing significantly to their response. SEB gathered evidence and insights from our Outreach, Education, and Diversity Working Group, as well as soliciting input from our wider membership base.

The consensus among SEB members echoed sentiments shared by other respondents collated by RSB. While recognising AI's potential as a valuable tool for both educators and students, concerns were voiced regarding the risk of student misuse, the reliability of information accessed via AI, and the necessity for adequate teacher training and support in AI implementation. Further insights from the full report by DfE revealed a that there was general support for the use of genAI among respondents. Many saw its potential in reducing teacher workload and enhancing educational support. However, apprehensions were voiced regarding curriculum adaptation, the risk of exposure to inappropriate content for students, and the imperative of ensuring equitable access to AI technology.

In response to this, DfE expressed its commitment to maximising the benefits of genAI in education while mitigating associated risks. To this end, the DfE has allocated up to £2 million to enhance AI tools for teachers through investment in the Oak National Academy. Furthermore, plans are underway to ensure all schools have access to high-speed internet by 2025, with up to £200 million earmarked for upgrading connectivity infrastructure. In a collaborative effort, the DfE is also working alongside regulatory bodies such as the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, the Office for Standards in Education, and the Office for Students to formulate a cohesive approach to the utilisation and regulation of genAI in education.

For further insights into the topic the full DfE report can be accessed here, while an overview of RSB's work to understand educators' perspectives on AI is available here.