How AI will reshape our universities

AI has the potential to impact everything from scheduling to admissions and more

In light of the fact that only 59 percent of students who begin pursuing a four-year degree at a higher-ed institution graduate within six years, many in the industry are seeking innovative ways to improve student outcomes.

Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have led to its adoption across many sectors. The multidisciplinary field presents a wide variety of opportunities for application, giving it great potential for use in higher education. AI encompasses these sub fields:

  • machine learning, used in everything from search engines to recommendation systems
  • natural-language processing, a prominent use case being the language understanding of Amazon’s Alexa
  • computer vision, which is used for tasks such as facial recognition.

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the many ways this technology could be used to help universities improve the student experience.

AI uses on campus
One way AI could revolutionize the higher ed experience is through automating the course-scheduling process. Rather than the current, sometimes lengthy, process of searching for courses that fit specific schedule and major requirements and deliberating over which ones to take, students could simply input any particular scheduling conflicts, such as a job or extracurricular activity, and receive a suggested course schedule tailored to their academic needs that fits within their time constraints.

Machine learning models could assess a student’s academic record, including previous courses taken and chosen major, to select courses that set the student on a path to graduation. Beyond simply meeting major requirements, however, the models could analyze the student’s past performance and suggest courses in which the student is most likely to succeed. This system could be used effectively from the student’s personal computer, as well as in the advising office. Using AI to automate scheduling could help students to stay on track toward graduation and take courses that will challenge them while also enabling them to succeed.

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