The group published new principles which set out how institutions will use technologies like ChatGPT responsibly and ethically, while capitalising on the opportunities they provide.
The guidelines, which have been agreed by the 24 Russell Group vice-chancellors, include equipping staff to support students to use AI tools and adapting teaching and assessment to incorporate the use of the technology.
They say doing so could “enhance the student learning experience” and prepare students for “real-world” applications of these technologies post-university.
Universities will also need to consider how to ensure all students have access to the tools, the guidelines add.
There have been widespread concerns about students using AI to complete coursework and assessments, as academics say this amounts to cheating that they are unable to detect.
All Russell Group institutions have now reviewed their academic codes of conduct to reflect developments in AI and where use of the technology is inappropriate. The guidelines state that students should be able to discuss their use “without fear of penalisation”.
“We know that students are already utilising this technology, so the question for us as educators is how do you best prepare them for this, and what are the skills they need to have to know how to engage with generative AI sensibly?” said Andrew Brass, head of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester.
“It seems very likely every job and sector will be transformed by AI”
“It’s clear that this can’t be imposed from the top down, but by working really, closely with our students to co-create the guidance we provide.
“If there are restrictions for example, it’s crucial that it’s clearly explained to students why they are in place, or we will find that people find a way around it,” he added.
Gavin McLachlan, vice principal and chief information officer at the University of Edinburgh, said that universities have a “responsibility” to ensure students are AI-literate.
“It seems very likely every job and sector will be transformed by AI to some extent.”
The implications of AI for international education have been widely debated, with some organisations incorporating the technology into their services, but there are widely-held concerns around the ethics of generative AI.