South Africa

Unisa asserts student use of AI is not scandalous

Unisa has recently stated that it upholds its academic integrity amid claims that numerous students are under investigation for using AI technology to complete assignments.

In response to reports on the matter, the university said it takes exception to the claims made, describing the matter as “not a scandal” in a recent statement.

Unisa said it uses a balanced approach regarding AI technologies such as ChatGPT and that responsible and ethical AI use is promoted while in line with its Policy on Academic Integrity.

Some of the ways students are encouraged to use AI include:

– Finalising guidelines on assignments

– Introducing a course on responsible and ethical AI use in 2025

– Finalising a draft on the university’s position on AI use, which is soon to be approved.

Unisa also said it continues to use AI technologies such as the Invigilator App, Moodle, and IRIS to secure academic integrity. Turnitin is also still frequently used to detect AI content. The university said it was satisfied with these and upcoming AI measures to monitor academic integrity.

The university reiterated that proctoring tools are critical to their examination processes as well as qualifications and has no intention of stopping their use. Examination rules and procedures are communicated to students regarding AI before they write.

“In the event of any suspicion of violation of the exam rules, a student will be subjected to further investigation and, where the suspicions are confirmed, referred to the Student Disciplinary Unit for the requisite action in line with relevant policies, including the Academic Integrity Policy.

Disciplinary measures are applied fairly and consistently; and without fear, favour or prejudice. To ensure the “innocent, until proven guilty” principle is applied and that the affected students are not disadvantaged, students are allowed to register for other modules and/or remain in the system until the finalisation of the investigation and disciplinary processes,” the statement read.

Unisa encouraged students to use the correct communication channels should they have inquiries.

“We emphasise that the university process on addressing potential academic misconduct is underpinned by fairness and respect, and is focused on educating students, not simply doling so out of discipline,” the statement ended.

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