Exeter Uni students visited ChatGPT more than 15,000 times during January exams

Clearly we need all the help we can get


Visits to ChatGPT website by Exeter Uni students rose by 4385 per cent during January exams.

Exeter University recorded more than 15,000 visits to the ChatGPT website using the university WiFi during the month of January as students turned to the AI software during exam season. Freedom of Information requests sent by The Tab show that there were 350 site visits using Eduroam in December and 15,700 in January.

ChatGPT is the current AI phenomenon which is quickly becoming the topic of debate amongst university assessment policies across the UK.

An investigation by The Tab found students and academics have visited the ChatGPT website more than one million times in the space of two months.

Between eight Russell Group universities, including Exeter University, there were 128,402 recorded visits to the chatbot website registered from the universities’ WiFi in December and 982,809 in January.

Theoretically you can write a university essay in 20 minutes and get a 53 from a Bristol University lecturer who said he’d “read students’ essays worse than this one”, but the reality is very few people would be so lazy or be willing to take the risk owing to university plagiarism rules.

However, The Tab found that many students use the site to help plan, refine, or conclude essays and academic work they are struggling with. Especially following the fifth week of strikes this academic year, many students are turning to ChatGPT to help explain and teach them content they are missing.

The University of Exeter’s plagiarism handbook outlines plagiarism as: “Direct copying of text from a book, article, fellow student’s essay, handout, thesis, web page or other source without proper acknowledgement. Claiming individual ideas derived from a book, article etc. as one’s own, and incorporating them into one’s work without acknowledging the source of these ideas. Overly depending on the work of one or more others without proper acknowledgement of the source, by constructing an essay, project etc. by extracting large sections of text from another source, and merely linking these together with a few of one’s own sentences.”

Whilst direct copying from a web source or external source would likely include ChatGPT – as would their policy on extraction from another source – the university does not explicitly mention ChatGPT or have any clear guidelines on using the software.

Furthermore, when The Tab approached the university in response to the number of site visits in December and January, the University of Exeter chose not to comment.

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