St Petersburg University opens an Archives Centre — a new Clinic that will allow students of the University to do practical training in the archives and work with actual commissioners: general public and public organisations. During the opening ceremony, St Petersburg University signed a cooperation agreement with St Petersburg Archival Committee and the Archives Department of Leningrad Region.

When opening the event, Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods pointed out that the Archives Centre is the 14th clinic at St Petersburg University. It was the University that became the first university in Russia to implement clinics into educational process. The Legal Clinic was the first and was launched in 1998.

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These unique training platforms allow students to get real work experience. Therefore, partner-employers of the University can acquire the best employees — young specialists with the necessary expertise.

St Petersburg University has a mission to be a trendsetter. And today you have set another example for the whole country.

Petr Tishchenko, Head of St Petersburg Archival Committee

‘This is a very good form of getting students involved in real life because it helps develop professionals. It focuses on three key factors: responsibility, credibility, and setting examples. When young men realise that a lot of confidence is placed in them, that they are held accountable for helping certain people and that the whole team will be judged by their work, they become real specialists’ said Petr Tishchenko, Head of St Petersburg Archival Committee.

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Both general public and representatives of public and state organisations can contact the Archives Centre of St Petersburg University should they need any help with archival research (genealogy, data on residential places, on companies and institutions). Additionally, students can hone the archival research skills there. Carrying out such a great project became possible thanks to an active collaboration between St Petersburg University and a range of employers.

‘Our cooperation aims at solving two important problems: providing skilled specialists to the archive service area; and creating a special environment where students will be able to acquire skills which are necessary in their profession’, said Andrei Savchenko, Head of the Archives Department of Leningrad Region.

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Today, in St Petersburg University there are also the Psychological Clinic, the Centre for Financial Literacy, the Sociological Clinic of Applied Research, and many others. These clinics are a starting point for developing teaching materials and arranging seminars, master classes, panel discussions, and conferences. Social role of the clinics is crucial.

A very important part of the clinical approach is that students not only study but also fulfil a social mission — they help people who seek the assistance in our Clinic.

Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods

‘We understand that within documents and artefacts archives store and save history. The value of historical understanding and correct historical knowledge is very important today’, underlined Marina Lavrikova.

Nikolai Shtykov is Candidate of History, Associate Professor in the Department of Historical Regional Studies at St Petersburg University and Head of the Archives Centre of the University. He pointed out that working in archives turns students into people who are seeking for information and are ready to help others.

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‘Throughout our lives, we inevitably face the need to look for some data in the archives. However, it is not always clear where to go’, explains Nikolai Shtykov. ‘Students of different academic programmes who study history have all the necessary skills of working with various archival documents and are able to provide assistance on different issues. Of course, they work under supervision of experienced teachers.’

Also, the event was attended by: Abdulla Daudov, Doctor of History, Director of the Institute of History at St Petersburg University; Maiia Rusakova, Director of the Sociological Clinic of Applied Research and Head of the working group for development of content and methods for organising clinical practice for the University students; Iuliia Kripatova, Director of Leningrad Oblast State Archives in Vyborg and Head of the Regional branch of the Russian Historical Society in the Leningrad Region; Elena Gruznova, executive secretary of the Regional branch of the Russian Historical Society in St Petersburg; and many others.