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A community approach to AI in HEIs 

05 Oct 2023 | Vic Stephenson and Dr Charles Knight Advance HE’s Vic Stephenson and Charles Knight introduce a series of roundtable events on the theme of AI Futures, a new member project for 2023-24 which focuses on 'what next' in higher education, supporting members in focusing on the challenges and opportunities offered by Generative AI in academia from delivery, leadership and strategic perspectives.

The launch of Chat GPT and emergence of other Large Language Models (LLMs) in late 2022 put higher education in a defensive position. Alarms were raised about the potential for academic misconduct, the inaccuracy and bias in the information generated by Generative AI (GAI), and the amount of personal information being shared by users. Having been forced only two years prior to rethink how university programmes were taught and assessed, with a shift away from exams towards open book and coursework assessments, academics in the US and around with world declared the essay to be dead. Universities scrambled to review assessments, with secure exams mooted by some as the only solution to the ‘threat’ of GAI.  

In 2023, the conversation has moved on from ‘how can we stop students using GAI to cheat?’ to ‘how can we use GAI to better prepare students for the future?’ Russell Group institutions have developed a set of five AI principles aiming to support AI literacy in students and staff, embed GAI in teaching and assessment to support equal access, encourage collaboration and the sharing of best practice across the sector and ensure academic rigour and integrity is upheld. Some universities, such as King’s College London, have adopted the PAIR (Problem, AI, Interaction, Reflection) framework in order to integrate AI into their curricula and have developed extensive guidelines for students, teaching staff, and programme managers on the incorporation and fair use of GAI in learning, teaching and assessment.  

In February 2023, the University of Kent’s popular Digitally Enhanced Education webinar series delivered a session on Chat GPT. The session exceeded its maximum participant capacity. However, of the many submissions for Advance HE’s Assessment and Feedback Symposium in November 2023, only four related directly to generative AI. Does this indicate that institutions feel they have ‘solved’ the GAI issue, or that they have made the changes they are able to for the current academic year due to restrictions on policy and process but have not yet effectively addressed or embraced GAI?     

Regardless, we are now seeing more nuanced conversations around GAI involving discussions of employability, graduate outcomes, overall student journeys and also how back-office processes can be automated and simplified occurring in HEIs.  


We want to explore the messy, complex business of how different stakeholders are reacting to GAI within the ‘education’ space and what it means for the future of HEIs from the ground up.  

Rather than starting from a strategic perspective, we want to build a view upwards by starting a conversation with those using GAI on a day-to-day basis and then asking leaders involved in policy and strategy to respond to what they see as the opportunities and challenges. We plan to do this via three linked roundtables and a short report that will reflect on the perspectives outlined and what recommendations we can make for policy and practice.  

This series of roundtables will bring together experts from across the sector, linking the experience of students and teaching staff with programme managers and senior leadership. The discussions will spotlight contemporary and emerging themes in generative AI and explore how institutions are responding and taking proactive approaches in their response. The series will highlight the challenges faced by students and staff and attempt to answer the perennial question of how universities can be agile enough to keep up with the pace of technological development while maintaining effective quality assurance processes. 


Vic Stephenson is a Senior Consultant (Education) and Dr Charles Knight is the Associate Director for Knowledge and Innovation at Advance HE.

AI Futures from the Ground Up

This member benefit explores how AI will transform the higher education sector from a bottom-up perspective. Find out more and register your interest.



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