The Agency urges higher education institutions to be more attentive to AI tools in education

Press Releases

Bratislava, 17 February 2023, Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education

The Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education (SAAHE) has issued a statement on the use of new communication tools using artificial intelligence. It, calls on higher education institutions to be more attentive to the use of these tools, which are becoming widely available to the public, including students.

Advances in technology provide an interesting opportunity for an advanced linguistic conversation with a computer that is no longer just in the realm of information retrieval but has elements of intelligent response processing. This provides new possibilities of use for the compilation of articles, essays, and the like.

“We have signals that ChatGPT, in particular, is popular among high school and university students in Slovakia as well. Often these new options are used vicariously, instead of the student’s own work, and that’s not right,” says Robert Redhammer, chair of the Agency’s Executive board. “The problem is when it misleadingly demonstrates the students’ abilities. It brings the issue of fairness education to the forefront,” Redhammer adds.

The problem can arise when a student or pupil submits, instead of his or her own work, the work of a computer as well as the work of another person. This is perceived as cheating similar to copying or plagiarism. However, unlike “classical” plagiarism, AI work is more difficult to detect with standard “anti-plagiarism” software.

The Agency draws the attention of teachers in particular to these new possibilities. Verification of the knowledge acquired by students and the defence of independent or final theses must therefore be more rigorous and personalised. Direct verbal communication throughout the school year and a certain relationship between teacher and student are coming to the fore.

The Agency does not recommend that schools across the board ban these technologies. On the contrary, it encourages their meaningful use,” says prof. René Matlovič, vice-chair of the Agency’s Executive Board. “The presence of these technologies in everyday life will expand, and their sophistication will increase. Therefore, we recommend that their use in theses be acknowledged in a way that makes the student’s contribution clear. Also, working with these technologies requires certain experience, knowledge, and skills,” adds prof. Matlovič.

“It reminds me of the period when the first calculators appeared. We were also banned from using them, but after a while, it was no longer possible to keep them, and they started to be used in education as well. This is also like a calculator, except that it does not perform mathematical operations with numbers, but answers questions or compiles larger texts based on a specific task,” Redhammer said.

“Paradoxically, a certain risk is the linguistic maturity of the answers, often indistinguishable from human answers. This, on the other hand, brings new possibilities. Therefore, its use should not be discouraged. However, we should be aware of the limits and potential negative consequences of its use,” Matlovič added.

The upcoming responses of universities will also be questioned by the Agency’s review panels in the forthcoming accreditations. “We expect that specific responses from higher education institutions will be a topic in upcoming accreditations later this year,” Redhammer said.