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What the TEQSA review of AI action plans means for universities, institutes and colleges.

 

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency wants to see action plans to address risks stemming from Generative AI from all higher education providers by mid-year.

This action comes as no surprise to tertiary institutions as the impact of Gen AI has been front of mind for them for some time. At the heart of the TEQSA review is the integrity of the tertiary education system –  Gen AI and its impact on the originality of research is the catalyst, but it is the flow on effect to the integrity of degrees and calibre of students coming out the other side that has the sector, and the general community, concerned.

It is encouraging to see TEQSA focusing on managing this rapidly emerging disruptive technology actively and constructively. There is no stuffing the Gen AI cat back in the bag, the question now is how do we work alongside it.

The sooner we consider and understand the impacts of Gen AI in education, the less clean-up regulators and institutions will need to do retrospectively. And the less anxiety people will have around it.

There are two key aspects of TEQSA’s request that higher education providers should be mindful of:

  1. The first is the existence of a “credible institutional action plan, oversighted by the appropriate governance mechanisms”. A credible plan will need to demonstrate the input and influence of internal or external Gen AI experts in its development. It is likely that TEQSA will want to see the voice of people who intimately understand the Gen AI landscape driving these plans.”
  2. The second is how TEQSA defines “detailed”. Will it be satisfied with a 5-year principles based action plan, for example, or is it looking for practical and immediate steps to detect Gen AI content, changes to assessment frameworks, and/or a revision in the way learning tasks are being set?

While TEQSA’s review is a good first step, the process of change management to detect and manage Gen AI is quite hard. There are a number of significant changes that institutions need to make to detect Gen AI content and to educate faculty members so they can adjust their learning and assessment frameworks.

Many university chief data officers are treating ChatGPT like when Wikipedia first came into play. They feel it is a logical evolution from book research, internet research and now ChatGPT research. The risk is that universities don’t fully understand the technology themselves, both to enhance teaching experience and identify plagiarism or ChatGPT generated content. This is where TEQSA, and institutions, should focus.