January 17, the first ever viva which was conducted according to SPbU’s own requirements was held at St Petersburg University to award SPbU’s degree “Candidate of History at SPbU” to a post-graduate student, historian Bakhtier Alimdjanov.

In 2016, two top Russia’s universities – SPbU and MSU – were granted a right to hold the viva according to their own requirements and to award degrees of candidate of sciences and doctor of sciences, equally recognized, on a par with the other degrees, by the state.

St Petersburg University is the first to research and develop a new academic area.

— Our core strategy is to re-gain a public recognition of academic degrees, and the only way to achieve it is to ensure transparency and openness to public scrutiny of how the theses are defended, — said SPbU Press-Secretary Aleksey Zavarzin. Russia’s universities, examiners and experts are facing a challenge to lead education and science on a global scale, said A. Zavarzin.

— If we adopt the way how the academic degrees are awarded by the world’s top universities, we definitely make our own degrees publically recognized just as Harvard, Stanford or other top universities, — said Aleksey Zavarzin.

Bakhtier Alimdjanov submitted a thesis “Russian Empire’s economic policy in Turkestan Governorate General at the second half of XIX – early XX centuries”, which was supervised by the Director of SPbU’s Institute of History, Professor Abdulla Daudov.

The dissertation council, formed especially for the viva, comprised experts, both from Russia and abroad, only in history of Central Asia: Prof Sergey Abashin, Prof Arsen Shaginyan, Prof Mikhail Florinsky, Prof Taisia Kitanina and a historian Prof Alexander Morrison, School for Humanities and Social Sciences, Nazarbayv University, Kazakhstan.

Alexander Morrison worked on-line, which is allowed in SPbU’s regulations to ensure openness and transparency.

— In 21 century, a scientist should be open to public, and the way how we can defend our theses at SPbU ensures openness and transparency, — said Bakhtier Alimdjanov. — Definitely, the viva according to these requirements is really harder than the traditional thesis defence, which is less strict, as the dissertation should undergo public examination and the dissertation council should comprise leading experts, both from Russia and abroad, in the field, and the candidate know them by repute only.

According to SPbU’s regulations, the defense announcement,  members of the dissertation council, reviews prepared by the members of the dissertation council in writing, the thesis  and all necessary documents should be published in advance at SPbU web-site.

The examination, which was open to anyone who is interested, was broadcast on-line and simultaneously interpreted.

The dissertation council voted unanimously to award a degree “Candidate of History at SPbU” to Bakhtier Alimdjanov, but the final decision will be made by Rector Nikolay Kropachev after the thesis and papers are evaluated by public during three months at the University’s web-site.


For reference: May 23, 2016, V.V. Putin endorsed a law which grants SPbU and MSU to hold the viva and award their own degrees of candidate and doctor of sciences, equally recognized with the traditional academic degrees by the government, from September 1, 2016. FZ “About science and state scientific and engineering policy” has been accordingly amended. In 2016-2017, the initial period when the law is implemented, SPbU holds thesis defenses according to both its own and VAK requirements.