First university affected by AI. Faculty of Economics will cancel undergraduate theses

FPH VŠE students must complete a bachelor’s project instead of a written assignment. For example, a professional study abroad, a detailed report on it, participation in a faculty research project or a business project.

At first, they considered whether their problem could be solved by a system that detects artificial intelligence-generating interventions in the faculty. “However, after consultation with leading, not only Czech, experts, we came to the conclusion that implementing such a system is not realistic,” Hinilica explains.

Jakub Havlíček, an expert on educational innovation at Brno’s Masaryk University, agrees: “Applications that offer something like this can detect the use of AI with a certain probability, but they cannot detect it 100 percent, prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The created text is always original in its own way. “I wouldn’t be afraid to say that apps for detecting the use of AI are really useless,” says Havlicek. Instead, he finds the solution is to show students how to properly use artificial intelligence.

Problems with authorizing texts written by artificial intelligence are probably faced by all universities. For example, at the Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, they focus more on preparing final theses. “At this stage if supervisors doubt students’ use of AI, they should refer to the sources and cite them properly. Some students later reworked the work or resigned from handing in work in the future,” explains UJEP spokeswoman Jana Kasanikova.

Jiri Schwarz, Rector of the Anglo-American University, finds it very difficult to express works, creations that students have ordered from someone and paid for. At this school in Prague, they fight fakes created by artificial intelligence. To find them, they use the Turnitin program, which since earlier this year includes an AI-powered text recognition tool. He also works at Charles University, but the school’s spokesperson Václav Hájek reminds us that Turnitin can only validate artificial intelligence interventions in English.

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Instead of a written paper, a presentation

According to Hajek, the debate over the form and content of undergraduate theses has been ongoing for a long time, and artificial intelligence has only added to its importance. A university spokesperson says the scope of the work specifically needs to be re-evaluated. “AI is really a master at generating long, meaningless texts,” he points out.

“Regarding the expansion and easy availability of AI tools and large language models such as ChatGPT or Bing chat, the possibility of replacing written theses with other forms such as a more complex project or portfolio is indeed being discussed,” affirms Havlicek. from Masaryk University.

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In Brno, at the MU Faculty of Law, they have already introduced a different final thesis. Many teachers change the format of the conclusion of their lessons and, if possible, replace the texts with assignments, presentations or projects. For example, the theological studies program at Palacký University in Olomouc has been replacing meritocracy with final disputation for many years.

At the University of Economics in Prague, only the Faculty of Business Administration has made a radical change to the bachelor’s thesis, while the school’s other faculties do not yet plan to introduce other than written forms across the board. However, a working group is already active in the Faculty of Informatics and Statistics, which deals with the topic of theses in the age of AI, discusses their possible forms and considers the involvement of new ones.

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At the Anglo-American College they are thinking about changing theses, but for reasons other than artificial intelligence. This applies only to professional study programs such as journalism or media studies. “With them, instead of a large qualifying paper, it is possible to consider that the student will present and defend a project or a collection of his publications. And they do not necessarily have to be written,” Schwarz explains. However, they do not want to cancel bachelor’s theses, in which, according to its rector, the graduate of the school still proves his expertise.

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AI learns from students’ work

However, universities are not opposed to artificial intelligence. It can also be used by students of the Faculty of Business Administration at VŠE, who must correctly cite the involvement of AI. “In response to the intrusion of AI into the creation of final theses, it is important in any case that team members go deeper during the defense and expose possible weak points as part of the student’s knowledge and preparation,” says Dean Hinilica. .

Even at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, he sees nothing wrong with the use of artificial intelligence. This year, for example, there will be a defense of serious work devoted to the possibilities of using AI in physics, which in principle requires the use of artificial intelligence in creation. “The tools of generative artificial intelligence certainly don’t mean the end of ‘academic writing,'” recalls MU’s Havlicek. “Instead, they will lead to a change in the process of creating threads. AI tools will usually help them, and in fact this is already happening.

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Charles University is not surprised by the students, but by the artificial intelligence exploiting their work. They observed an increase in downloads of works from the public domain Online Savings – Bots know where to look for text that is continuously learned by artificial intelligence. However, as spokesperson Hejek points out, the robots’ behavior hinders the operation of this digital library.

The library offers not only undergraduate theses for download, but also diploma theses for completion of master’s degree. However, these are not affected by the considered changes and remain in their traditional written form even at the Faculty of Business Administration of the University of Economics. And since they are mandatory by law, they cannot be revoked. “Among them, students must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of research methods and analytical skills,” emphasizes Hinilica. “Due to their scope, depth and, above all, the very close collaboration between the supervisor of the thesis and the graduate, they do not provide much room for misuse of artificial intelligence.”

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