The HEPI Policy Note 51, focusing on "Generative AI in Higher Education," reveals pivotal insights into student perspectives on AI tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard. This landmark study, the first of its kind in the UK since the advent of ChatGPT, involved over 1,200 undergraduate students, highlighting a significant trend: generative AI's integration into academic life is now normalized, with 53% of students utilizing these tools to assist in their studies. Remarkably, 36% of students have leveraged AI as an 'AI private tutor' for concept clarification, underscoring the technology's educational potential. However, the study also surfaces concerns about AI-induced academic dishonesty and a growing 'digital divide,' with disparities in AI usage among different demographic groups. For example, student from Asian ethnicity and the most privileged backgrounds used generative AI much more than other students. Despite these challenges, a substantial majority (66%) find AI's role in explaining concepts acceptable, reflecting an optimistic stance towards AI's educational applications. Educational institutions are called to develop clear AI usage policies and provide necessary support, aiming to mitigate the 'digital divide' and harness AI's benefits effectively.
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