During the EDS Summer University in Barcelona (27-30th July 2023), we discussed the impact AI has on education and why organising its integration into higher education is essential. AI revolutionises the learning process by offering personalised and adaptive learning experiences, catering to each student’s unique needs and learning pace. Additionally, AI-driven analytics and data-driven insights can assist educational institutions in making informed decisions, enhancing administrative efficiency, and optimising resource allocation to improve overall educational outcomes. On the other hand, it also brings challenges. We share with you the whole conference resolution adopted by the EDS Council.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force across various domains, and higher education is no exception. As institutions of learning strive to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the future, AI offers unprecedented potential to revolutionise education and enhance the learning experience. By harnessing the power of AI, higher education institutions can create student-centric environments, foster personalised learning, and cultivate innovative teaching approaches.
AI technologies can transform traditional classrooms into dynamic and adaptive learning spaces. Intelligent tutoring systems can provide personalised feedback and guidance to students, catering to their individual needs and learning styles. These systems can analyse vast amounts of data, including students’ performance, preferences, and learning patterns, enabling educators to tailor instruction and support accordingly. Through adaptive learning algorithms, AI can adapt the curriculum to meet the unique requirements of each student, fostering a more engaging and effective learning process.
Moreover, AI can contribute to breaking down barriers to education. Online learning platforms powered by AI algorithms can offer accessible, flexible and inclusive educational experiences to learners worldwide.
By leveraging AI, institutions can design courses and curricula that cater to diverse backgrounds, abilities and learning paces. AI-driven language translation tools facilitate multilingual instruction, fostering cross-cultural collaboration and global engagement. Furthermore, AI-based virtual reality and augmented reality applications offer immersive learning experiences, enabling students to explore complex concepts, conduct simulations and participate in interactive scenarios.
AI also holds tremendous potential for transforming assessment and evaluation practices in higher education. Intelligent assessment systems can provide real-time feedback and analysis, enabling educators to gauge students’ progress accurately. AI algorithms can automatically grade assignments, essays and exams, reducing the administrative burden on instructors and providing prompt student feedback. Additionally, AI-powered plagiarism detection tools contribute to maintaining academic integrity and upholding standards of ethics and originality.
However, integrating AI into higher education comes with ethical considerations and challenges. Educational institutions must prioritise the responsible and ethical use of AI. Institutions must establish robust policies and guidelines to ensure transparency, fairness, accountability, and privacy in deploying AI technologies. Data protection and privacy protocols must be in place to safeguard sensitive student information and prevent unintended bias or discrimination within AI systems. It is essential to address the ethical implications of AI, including algorithmic bias, accountability and the impact on human agency and decision-making.
Faculty professional development programs are imperative to maximise AI’s benefits in higher education. Educators need training and support to understand and leverage AI tools effectively. Institutions should invest in upskilling faculty members, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to integrate AI seamlessly into their teaching practices. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, institutions can empower faculty to explore innovative pedagogical approaches and leverage AI as a catalyst for educational transformation.
Collaboration and research are essential pillars in advancing AI in higher education. Institutions should forge partnerships with industry, research organisations, and policymakers to address challenges, share best practices and drive innovation collectively.
Interdisciplinary research efforts can explore the potential of AI in improving learning outcomes, student engagement, and the overall educational experience. Through collaboration, stakeholders can collectively design and implement ethical frameworks, guidelines, and standards that govern the use of AI in higher education.
We, the European Democrat Students (EDS), the official student organisation of the European People’s Party (EPP):
Recognise the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and their potential to revolutionise higher education;
Recognise the risk of AI in terms of the content, not only related to content bias but also in terms of an accurate presentation of facts and arguments. The experience of Open Al shows us that Al has also made many mistakes when it comes to developing content, and given the dynamic nature of the technology – as opposed to the static nature of textbooks- more robust and more recurrent controls should be in place to avoid misinformation and inaccuracies.
Acknowledge the ethical and social implications associated with the integration of AI technologies in educational institutions;
Appreciate the need for collaboration among stakeholders to ensure the responsible and inclusive deployment of AI in higher education, mainly through collaborative tools and practices that facilitate the exchange of best initiatives, ideas, and research related to AI in higher education;
Understand the importance of maintaining human-centric values and the preservation of privacy, fairness, transparency, and accountability in AI systems;
Welcome the adoption by the European Parliament, on June 14th of 2023, of the Artificial Intelligence Act, regulating for the first time this technology;
Underline the importance of the data protection legislation and initiatives, as mentioned in the motion “Promote education for youth on personal data protection” adopted by the EDS Council during the 2023 Winter University (23rd -26th of March 2023).
Therefore, we, the EDS, call upon:
- The European Commission to support the creation of models that will be able to recognise and prevent the spread of misinformation or illegal content generated by AI;
- Higher Education Institutions to adopt comprehensive AI strategies prioritising ethical considerations and responsible integration of AI technologies within their campuses;
- Higher Education and Research institutions adhere to internationally recognized principles, such as fairness, transparency, accountability, and privacy, as outlined in established ethical frameworks for AI systems used on campuses;
- National Higher Education and Research authorities to establish multidisciplinary committees or task forces comprising AI experts, educators, students, and ethicists to adopt strategies based on national frameworks for deploying and using AI in higher education;
- Higher Education Institutions to actively engage in public dialogue, promoting awareness and understanding of AI technologies, their benefits, challenges, and potential impacts on society and education;
- Higher Education Institutions to invest in faculty professional development programs to enhance educators’ knowledge and skills in AI technologies, data literacy, and ethical considerations;
- Higher Education institutions to establish robust evaluation mechanisms to assess the impact and effectiveness of AI technologies deployed in educational settings, considering their impact on student learning outcomes, engagement, and well-being;
- Higher education institutions to establish a follow-up mechanism to monitor and review the implementation of this resolution, sharing best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations for continuous improvement;
- The IT industry encourages the development of AI-supported learning environments that prioritise individualised and adaptive learning experiences, providing personalised recommendations, feedback and student support;
- The IT industry actors implement transparency in AI systems used for educational purposes, enabling students to understand the algorithms’ functioning, data usage, and potential biases while safeguarding their privacy.
- The European Commission encourages collaboration between higher education institutions, research organisations, industry partners and government bodies to foster interdisciplinary research and innovation in AI technologies for educational purposes;
- The European Commission to fund and support research projects that explore the ethical implications, impact, and effectiveness of AI technologies in higher education;
- The European Commission to incentivise partnerships with community organisations, policymakers, and stakeholders to ensure inclusive and equitable access to AI technologies and prevent the exacerbation of existing educational inequalities.
- The European Parliament to implement a Task Force to monitor and audit AI editors to identify and address biases, discrimination, and unintended consequences that may arise from their use in higher education.
Adopted on 29th of July 2023, Barcelona, Spain