Oxford Uni students told to use AI for essay writing but lecturers place huge warning on submitted work

The Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street, in Oxford

The Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street, in Oxford

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 13/12/2023

- 22:31

The use of artificial intelligence at Britain’s top universities has increased in recent months

Students at the University of Oxford have been told to use artificial intelligence for writing essays but lecturers have placed a huge warning on submitted work.

Undergraduates enrolled on the elite university’s economics and management course were advised to use ChatGPT to help generate first drafts of essays.

Professor Steve New, who teaches a module on technology and operations management, reportedly advised students that AI “should help you produce a much better essay than you would produce unaided”.

He also stressed it needs to be used “thoughtfully and critically”.

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However, Professor New told The Daily Telegraph that tutorial essays play no part in any formal assessment and students spend an hour in small groups discussing their work with their tutor.

AI tools are capable of creating unique essays based on their understanding of billions of words and can mimic human conversation and language.

It is even capable of passing doctors' exams and writing scientific articles, researchers have claimed.

Students, who must include an “AI statement”, were told to fact check eachother’s work due to errors with the system.

File photo dated of university graduates

File photo dated of university graduates


In guidance to students, Professor New said that AI should “increase your ability to think hard about the subjects you discuss, and make you more confident in framing a clear and persuasive argument”.

He added: “But the document that emerges should be yours. You need to write stuff you will stand by.

“The AI can produce humdrum ‘some say this, some say that…meh’ essays in a fraction of a second; you should be producing compelling, tightly-argued, evidence-based prose that you believe in.”

Oxford University also announced in February that new AI tools such as ChatGPT have the potential to “change the way we teach and learn in many positive ways”.

Stock image showing a smartphone being used in an open plan office

Stock image showing a smartphone being used in an open plan office


However, the elite university stressed that unauthorised use of AI tools in exams and other assessed work “is a serious disciplinary offence”.

The latest news about students using AI at Oxford comes after Russell Group institutions revealed they would teach how to use ChatGPT without cheating.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group, said: “AI breakthroughs are already changing the way we work and it’s crucial students get the new skills they need to build a fulfilling career.

“The transformative opportunity provided by AI is huge and our universities are determined to grasp it.”

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