Dmitry Medvedev, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of St Petersburg University, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, has commended the quality of academic programmes and online courses offered by St Petersburg University.

During a meeting of the Board of Trustees of St Petersburg University, Dmitry Medvedev noted that in 2020 the University developed over 60 new academic programmes: ‘Some of them can be regarded as a response to the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We are talking about effective methods to counter the effects of coronavirusrelated restrictions and about the implementation of State policy on charitable activities and volunteering. These areas shall be given special attention.’

Today, St Petersburg University ranks first in the national educational platform Open Education in terms of the number of opened courses. At present, there are about 150 courses; over 2 million people have completed them. At the end of 2020, the University entered the world’s top three in terms of content among organisations whose online courses are presented on the international educational platform Coursera.

Amid the pandemic, the University opened free access to its educational resources for all Russian students.

Last summer, St Petersburg University scientists launched an online course ‘SARS-CoV-2 Coronaviruses and Acute Respiratory Viral Infection Pathogens’. The course aims to provide students with fundamental knowledge about the nature of viruses and humanvirus interactions in general, and in particular, an understanding of the new SARS-CoV-2 virus. It caused large-scale changes both at the micro level of individual life and at the macro level of world order. Debunking of the myths about the coronavirus, which were spread extensively by social networks and the media, was a particular objective of the programme. Students are invited to draw their own conclusions about what is happening based on the knowledge they acquire of microbiology and physiology. You can register for the course on the Open Education and Coursera platforms.

Additionally, St Petersburg University launched several new academic programmes in 2020. In May 2020, the University opened a professional development programme ‘Radiological Diagnosis of Lung Damage in Patients with Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19)’ for radiologists and ultrasound diagnosticians. The students studied methods and techniques of: computed tomography of the chest; radiation semiotics of lungs and diagnosis of lung damage in patients with the new coronavirus infection; and differential diagnosis of viral pneumonia and ultrasound of the lungs in patients with COVID-19. They were also taught general principles of effective health and safety management practices for departments of diagnostic radiology during the pandemic. The course was completed by 408 medical professionals from 53 hospitals and medical centres in St Petersburg.

St Petersburg University online courses are available on the largest educational platforms in Russia and in the world, including Open Education, Coursera and the Chinese MOOC platform, XuetangX.

Another professional development programme implemented by St Petersburg University is ‘New Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19): Analysis and Practice’. It is focused on the clinical picture, methods of prevention, diagnosis, and approaches to the treatment of moderate and severe forms of the new coronavirus infection.

In the context of COVID-19-related restrictive measures implemented in several regions of Russia, volunteers made an important contribution to support people in high-risk groups. Volunteering is the theme of another professional development programme – ‘Issues related to the implementation of state policy on charitable activities and volunteering’. The programme was launched by St Petersburg University in 2020. It was developed within the framework of the state programme ‘Economic Development and Innovation Economy’. In spring 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, 52 students successfully completed online training. These were civil servants from: the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Federal Taxation Service of Russia, the Ministry of Justice, and other structures.

The students discussed key issues related to the role of volunteering in contributing to social and economic development. They studied aspects of the legal regulation of volunteerism, and methods and strategies of effective involvement of volunteers. All topics were addressed comprehensively, with specific examples from various fields, including: the healthcare system; sports; and the welfare system. In addition, the students learned how to develop a promising volunteering project and assess its effectiveness.

In total, St Petersburg University has implemented over 800 non-degree programmes for university entrants and students, including professional development programmes for specialists who seek out opportunities to advance, or change their careers.