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LCQ12: Application of ChatGPT in academia
     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Priscilla Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Dr Choi Yuk-lin, in the Legislative Council today (March 29):
     Regarding the application of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot programme, in the academia, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows if various tertiary institutions have specified that the improper use of ChatGPT by students to complete essays/coursework is an act of contravention; if they have, of the measures to be taken by the various tertiary institutions to stop such acts; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it knows if various tertiary institutions have currently put in place measures to identify if students have improperly used ChatGPT to complete essays/coursework; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it knows if various tertiary institutions have currently put in place education and publicity programmes to raise students' awareness of academic honesty, and explained to students the risks of improperly using ChatGPT to complete their essays; and
(4) whether it has studied the formulation of measures or policies to regulate the application of ChatGPT in the academia?
     Regarding the question raised by Dr the Hon Priscilla Leung, our consolidated reply is as follows:
     The University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities are independent and autonomous institutions established under their own legislation and enjoy autonomy in the development of their curricula and the conduct of their research. The rapid emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in recent months has become a major issue of interest to the global higher education community. The development and implications of this technology are being closely watched and widely discussed. The UGC-funded universities attach great importance to quality assurance and have taken various measures to address the impact of this technology on teaching and research.
     According to the information provided by the UGC-funded universities, Lingnan University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Education University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the University of Hong Kong have provided specific guidelines to their academic staff and students on their stance and requirements on the use of generative AI by students of taught programmes in assignments or course assessments. Different approaches are adopted by the universities. For example, some guidelines state that students may use generative AI if certain conditions (such as making explicit quotes) are met or subject to teaching staff's decisions based on pedagogical needs. Some universities have temporarily banned the use of generative AI in assignments or assessments, except with written permission, pending the development of more comprehensive guidelines. The City University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University are working on introducing the relevant guidelines shortly.
     All along, the UGC-funded universities attach great importance to academic integrity and quality of teaching. In view of the development of generative AI, the universities will monitor the non-compliant use of the technology through various means, such as the adoption of more advanced plagiarism detection software and the addition of an integrity declaration clause. All non-compliance cases will be followed up in accordance with the disciplinary mechanism for safeguarding academic integrity. Some universities will also consider making adjustments to the assessment methods and content to enhance the elements of critical thinking and active learning to ensure that the assessment results truly reflect students' learning outcomes and originality of work.
     In addition, a number of universities are organising seminars, lectures, panel discussions and interactive workshops on the use of generative AI to enhance the understanding and awareness of the controversies involved in its application among staff members and students. The universities are also planning to further reinforce the importance of academic integrity among staff members and students through various activities and channels.
     On the research front, the Research Grants Council (RGC) attaches great importance to research ethics, and has been requiring researchers to adhere to the highest standards of integrity. The RGC has developed the Guidelines on Handling of Research Misconduct Cases to set out the policies, principles and procedures for handling suspected research misconduct under its funding schemes. Institutions have also established internal procedures to investigate and follow up on suspected research misconduct under the principle of institutional autonomy. Institutions are required to report immediately to the RGC any suspected misconduct in relation to the RGC-funded projects. All cases of suspected misconduct will be handled fairly by the RGC in accordance with the established mechanism. In addition, the RGC will continue to monitor developments in generative AI and other new technologies, as well as the responses of academics around the world to ensure that the existing research ethics governance system is fit for purpose. 
Ends/Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:40
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