Chatbot pilot launched for FE

The National Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Tertiary Education has launched a new chatbot to cut down on the workload of teachers

A new chatbot, developed by Jisc and Bolton College, has been launched to help students throughout the UK. 

The chatbot has been designed to cut staff workload by answering questions about the campus, timetabling and support services. 

A trial is now underway with Ayrshire, Blackpool and The Fylde, Sandwell, and Yeovil colleges, set to run until Easter 2022. 

Staff workload is an ongoing challenge and chatbots could really make a difference – freeing up teachers and other staff to concentrate on face-to face support – Robin Ghurbhurun, Jisc’s MD of further education and skills 

The technology is based on Ada – a chatbot created by Bolton college, where it has been supporting students since April 2017. 

It is the first pilot to emerge from Jisc’s National Centre for Artificial Intelligence In Tertiary Education. 

The chatbot has been developed for the further education sector but is reportedly able to be adapted for universities too. 

“This is an exciting project for the tertiary education sector, where the use of AI and machine learning is still in its infancy,” said Jisc’s MD of FE and skills, Robin Ghurbhurun. 

“Our hope is that this project will demonstrate the potential of emerging Industry 4.0 technologies to help solve key sector challenges.”  

“Bolton College is delighted to partner with Jisc on the chatbot pilot. Working collaboratively has allowed us to innovate, utilising cutting-edge technology to enrich the college experience of our students,” added principle of Bolton College, Bill Webster. 

“Since the launch of the Ada service, we’ve been passionate in our belief that every student in the further education sector should have access to a campus digital assistant that supports their studies and training. The joint chatbot pilot is an important milestone in that longer term journey.” 


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