Students demand acceleration of “integration of AI support tools for learning”, according to YouGov-Studiosity research

Nearly two thirds of UK students say their university is not adapting quickly enough to include AI support tools to help with their study, according to new research conducted by YouGov for global leaders in online study success solutions Studiosity.

In a Student Wellbeing Survey among 2,422 UK students, 64% said they believe their university can accelerate the integration of AI tools for learning. Whilst only 39% of students currently expect their institution to offer AI support tools, this is significantly higher among international students at UK universities (57%) than their domestic counterparts (37%). Business students are more likely to want their university to innovate and provide AI support (57%) and Humanities and Social Sciences students the least likely (29%).

Speed of feedback – ‘only waiting minutes, not a day or several days’ – is the main reason that students would use their university’s AI support or feedback (26%), followed by confidence, specifically to check they are ‘on the right track through their assignment’ (17%).

The UK survey representing 149 higher education institutions was part of global YouGov research among 10,189 responding students, which also spanned Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Singapore and UAE, and was undertaken in November and December 2023.

Other key findings include:

·        UAE and Saudi Arabia students have some of the highest expectations in the world for AI learning support (84% and 79% respectively).

·        As well as the UK, students in Australia (55%) and Canada (60%) also strongly perceive their university is not adapting fast enough to include AI support tools.

·        The main reason given by students in the majority of countries for using their university’s AI support or feedback was ‘speed’, apart from New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and UAE where ‘confidence’ was mostly           highlighted.

Isabelle Bristow, Studiosity’s Managing Director for UK and Europe, said: “The expansion of the capabilities of Generative AI was a big theme in 2023 and that year of fact-finding and planning should now turn into a year of action in higher education. As complex institutions, universities acknowledge that speed of adoption can be an issue, which is also exacerbated by student expectations evidenced in this survey. Increasingly, students from all demographics are proficient consumers of technology, bringing assumptions into their study experience.

“Our UK study also found that a large proportion of students are confused about what AI is, and how it can be used in their educational setting. Many students expressed concerns about the ethical use of AI or its reliability, over AI potentially replacing human support, and there were also reports of university-wide bans. However, whilst many students believe AI can have an ethical and valid role in supporting their studies, they also felt their university did not have this understanding yet, and are being slow to react.”

Studiosity, whose ethical writing feedback and study support service is trusted by more and more universities and 1.6 million students, has launched new AI learning technology to support all university students’ academic literacy skills.

Studiosity+ allows institutions to give all their students formative feedback on their written work in minutes – supporting satisfaction, completion and helping them to maintain their credible degree delivery,” Isabelle explained. “It is learner centric, already research-driven, and designed on our legacy of strong higher education partnerships. It is ethical, and has a permanent and robust ‘Humans in the Loop’ process for quality assurances and to increase peer connection and belonging.

“Importantly, universities can see students’ progress, critical thinking development, pinpoint challenges, and take next steps. This helps our partners support all their students and to use the actionable insight for whole-institution change.”

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