A month ago, Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, met with Tensyao Chzhao, Chair of the University’s International Students Club, and his friends for the first time. The students made many action-oriented proposals for developing strong and long-term cooperation between the youth of China and Russia. During the first meeting, while discussing options for building relations, it was agreed that international students would draw up a plan for their next steps. A follow up meeting on 7 May focused on discussing strategies to implement these plans.
At the beginning of the meeting, Tensyao Chzhao reported that international students had met with Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods, and discussed with her the issues of teaching foreigners at the University. Nikolay Kropachev said that amendments to the Regulations on the Student Council of St Petersburg University are being prepared.
The Rector offered to discuss the issue of more active participation of international students in the life of the University, including participation: in elections to members of the Academic Council; in teaching methodology committees; and in the activities of student councils. Nikolay Kropachev also suggested that international students should take a more active part in the sports and cultural life of the University: they can muster their own teams, for example, in football; or participate in sports competitions and tournaments, concerts and performances of the choir, and dancing groups to name just a few. The students especially liked the idea of participating in a football tournament with their own team. To discuss these issues, it was decided to organise a meeting of representatives of the International Students Club with Vladimir Savinov, Head of the Department for Youth Affairs, and the management of the University’s Baltic Eagles Sports Club.
The international students discussed other issues with the Rector:
- challenges encountered in relation to different time periods for issuing academic credentials in foreign universities and the enrolment period for master’s degree programmes at St Petersburg University
- difficulties that arise when filling out documents for admission to the University and issuing visa documents
- rules for expulsion of international students
- the organisation of Russian language courses in August (before admission to the University) and the teaching and learning process at St Petersburg University
- the participation of international students in practical training and internships
- accommodation of international students in the University’s halls of residence
- the organisation of days of acquaintance of first-year international students with the University and its students and staff
- involvement of international students in translating the University website content into foreign languages
- joint academic programmes of the University with foreign universities
- the organisation of active interaction between the St Petersburg University Alumni Association and University graduates residing abroad
During the discussion, it was found that some issues had already been resolved. For example, to enter the University starting from 2014, international students have had to submit not a diploma, but only a letter of confirmation from an educational institution stating that they are completing their studies this year. Original standard academic credentials should be submitted on or prior to 1 October (Admission of foreign nationals at St Petersburg University). For international students to be put officially on the staff of St Petersburg University, it is no longer required to obtain a work visa. To resolve other issues, the Rector gave due instructions to the University staff. For example, as instructed by the Rector, the staff of the Passport and Visa Support Department will prepare answers to typical questions that international students have when filling out visa documents. These answers will be posted on the University’s website in the major foreign languages. Senior Vice-Rector Marina Lavrikova was instructed to study the issue of the possibility to organise Russian language courses for international students before they start studying in the first course (in July—August).
The question that for some reason the students themselves had not dared to put to the Rector was also resolved. By the decision of the Rector, a specially equipped room will be allotted for the International Students Club in the Centre for Catering, and Cultural and Business Cooperation (6 Birzhevaia Line).