1. Set up of academic activities from May 1 to 11

Set up of University academic activities from May 1 to 11 was discussed (Order no. 3808/1 dated April 30, 2020 ‘On the implementation of academic programs’).

It was noted that the academic process the academic process has been running in distance format for over a month. The Virtual Reception is continuously receiving enquiries from students asking when education will return back to normal. The University is committed to follow the rules and regulations enforced in St. Petersburg as a Russian Federation constituent.

2. On the academic process

In late March directors of institutions and faculty deans formulated the distance learning framework for every academic discipline (Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated March 23, 2020, provision 11).

At the meeting, directors and deans highlighted organizational and psychological problems undermining the transfer to distance learning format and communicated the requests of the faculty and students voiced over that time. Those include students applying for academic leaves requesting to provide individual learning schedules or individual academic curricula due to the transition to distance learning format (so far, such applications are few).

A.S. Belov, Dean of the Faculty of Law, N.G. Skvortsov, Dean of the Faculty of Sociology, L. Petrosyan, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Mathematics-Control Processes, and A.S. Puyu, Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, reported on the enquiries submitted by students and the faculty over the last month of distance learning. Those are few. Most of them received early responses.

It is common knowledge that traditionally labor contracts with teaching staff stipulate that the latter shall be competent users of advanced distance learning technologies, used in the SPbU academic process. As of lately all teaching staff members wishing to gain competence in these technologies or improve their skills could benefit from educational seminars, regularly held at the University. Unfortunately, some teachers were reluctant to acquire this knowledge and skills. Nowadays, they have to effectively step up to this challenge. The University Center for the Development of Digital Educational Resources is providing them with dedicated assistance. For instance, over the first 15 days after the transition to distance learning format the Center staff prepared detailed video instructions on how to use various tools, i.e. Zoom, Kahoot and Microsoft Teams, etc. (SPbU is helping teaching staff to set up distance learning). The meeting participants also referred to cases when members of the teaching staff (including those of senior age), who were supported by their colleagues, succeeded in learning how to organize classes on-line via video-conference platforms. It was mentioned, that learners of all academic programs are studying efficiently.

Based on the outcomes of the discussion, directors and deans were tasked to analyze which distance learning tools demonstrated utmost efficiency.

3. Set up of interim examination procedures in spring semester

Interim examination scheduled for spring semester of academic year 2019/20 shall be set up in the formats recommended by directors and deans. The distant learning procedure for on-line courses was adopted across all academic disciplines (Order no. 3559/1 dated April 24, 2020 ‘On the interim examination procedure for academic disciplines studied using on-line courses’; SPbU became top university hosting the highest number of on-line courses on the Open Education platform).

The Order Appendix includes over 1,000 on-line courses on the Open Education and Coursera platforms. On-line courses can be used in three possible ways: in full, in part, or as recommended material – within every particular academic discipline at SPbU or an on-line course. Assessment formats for each on-line course are described. Directors and deans were tasked to analyze efficiency of different options to incorporate on-line courses in the academic process.

4. Set up of state final certification

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduate exams for students of academic programs have been canceled; on top of graduate exams, the FSC also includes defense of graduation thesis (Order no. 3706/1 dated April 28, 2020 ‘On Amendments to Educational and Methodological Documents Regarding Final Certification in 2019/20’; moreover, SPbU reduced the number of state final tests in response to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Students are going to defend their graduation thesis via SPbU Blackboard, a communication support system for academic process. The defense procedure shall be split into four stages:

gathering of material for defense (upload of graduate thesis, reviews, and contributions to SPbU Blackboard);

questions addressed to students by members of the State Examination Commission, upload of questions to SPbU Blackboard;

defense using the proctoring system and student submitting answers in writing to the questions addressed; upload of answers to SPbU Blackboard;

assessment of defense by members of the State Certification Commission, final protocol shall be prepared by the Commission and uploaded to SPbU Blackboard.

The rules of graduate thesis defense procedure shall be drafted by the work group represented by I. A. Balova, Director of the Institute of Chemistry, S. A. Belov, Dean of the Law Faculty, S. V. Begez, First deputy of Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Methodological Support, and S.Yu. Sevryukov, Head of the Information Technology Service. Draft rules shall be forwarded to all directors and deans. Discussion of the draft rules is scheduled for May 6 at the next Rector's meeting.

Once the rules of procedure are approved, the Main Directorate for Academic Affairs and Methodological Support jointly with Directorate for IT Services shall test the students’ connection to the proctoring system and run FSC in test mode. Directors and deans suggested that the check-up is scheduled depending on the timetable of exams and tests (students who have early examinations will be scheduled for check-up earlier as well). Professor I. A. Balova, Director of the Institute of Chemistry, suggested that work meetings should be held bringing together directors, deans, and chairs of State Examination Commissions (SECs), as well as SEC members, if required.

5. The term of office for members of Student Board Presidiums was extended

Considering the importance of Student Board activities, it was decided to extend the term of office for members of Student Board Presidiums representing academic and scientific divisions at SPbU (Order no. 3192/1 dated April 17, 2020 ‘On extended term of office for members of Student Board Presidiums representing academic and scientific divisions (institutes, faculties) ay SPbU’).

6. Students are helping citizens

University students are helping residents of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region as part of vocational training at SPbU (doctor, businessman, housewife, psychologic counselling in pandemic settings; the Community Translation Center at SPbU has shifted work to remote format; SPbU opened the Skype Trust call-line to provide psychologic counselling amid the pandemic); students are also engaged as volunteers to help those in need – i.e. veterans and SPbU staff (‘This is not the end of the world at hand – this is a pandemic.’ How do volunteers help citizens to overcome isolation challenges).

The meeting participants also mentioned that 27 resident doctors at the University are providing medical care to St. Petersburg citizents.

7. SPbU scientists doing research on coronavirus infection (COVID-19)

The development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine might be a paramount prevention effort to counter the disease; however, one needs time to develop a vaccine and perform clinical trials (a year or two, according to various forecast). Therefore, projects developing alternative COVID-19 treatment and prevention methods are emerging on the forefront. SPbU scientists are currently working on several priority projects. For instance:

‘Studying the exome of COVID-19 survivors’ (jointly with the City Hospital no. 40).

The project idea is that due to the vast variety of COVID-19 symptoms in patients, there are a large number of subclinical presentations; therefore, the question: what are the human genetic properties that determine the severity of disease symptoms. Once the genetic determinants are known – the ones that allow to forecast progression of COVID-19 – groups at risk can be isolated, giving other people the opportunity to return back to normal life. To deliver on this project, scientists are planning to sequence (NGS) the human exome responsible for clinical manifestations (i.e. a small portion of human genes of clinical significance) in COVID-19 survivors and compare results to a control group to identify genetic discrepancies.

‘Fast production of a bioproduct for COVID-19 prevention and treatment’ (project initiated by SPbU team, Head of Project is A. Yu. Aksenova, PhD in Biology, senior research fellow at Amyloid Laboratory; partner organization is the Research Institute of Influenza).

The project idea is that coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has typical spike-shaped protruding receptors (in groups they resemble a crown) that are built by S protein. To enter the cell membrane, the virus uses the protein to recognize and bind with the ACE2 cell receptor. ACE2 protein is present on the cell surface of various tissues, which explains why they are affected by the virus. If ACE2 receptor is blocked by a different virus domain, SARS-CoV-2 binding to cells would be disrupted, thus preventing the spread of viral infection. Such a drug could be a nasal or throat spray, or could be applied to lower airways as a potentially effective way to combat COVID-19. Ultimate simplicity of bacterial expression and purification would the team to produce this drug in 30 days’ timeframe. Thus, in case of success, the new drug will be commercially available to dramatically drop down COVID-19 incidence among humans and lift lockdown restrictions.

‘Using neutralizing plasma antibodies obtained from COVID-19 survivors to treat patients with COVID-19.’ This clinical study is carried out by a consortium of city and federal medical institutions in collaboration with the University Hospital in Dresden.

8. SPbU won the competition organized by the Russian ‘Fuel and Energy Complex’ State Unitary Enterprise.

SPbU won the competition organized by the Russian ‘Fuel and Energy Complex’ State Unitary Enterprise to perform R&D on ‘Robotic platform for internal pipeline diagnostics’ (Minutes of Rector’s meeting dated March 2, 2020, provision 9).

9. Development of MLV machine

SME SPbU Dynamicx and its team is working on a new model of MLV machines.

10. Victory Day Celebration

Shortly before the Victory Day on May 6 to 8 SPbU volunteers are going to present gifts to 400 University veterans and congratulate them on the Victory Day (Happy Victory Day!). The meeting participants were also informed that the holiday issue of SPbU Magazine dedicated to the Victory Day will be published.

11. SPbU Academic Council meeting on April 27

On April 27, 2020, the SPbU Academic Council held a regular meeting in remote format using digital tools for absentee voting. As usual, members of the SPbU Academic Council had received documents to be considered with the framework of the agenda in advance; documents were duly posted on the University website (Agenda of SPbU Academic Council meeting), as well as the results of the count of votes of the absentee voting (Protocol of absentee voting by members of the SPbU Academic Council).

Professor S. S. Ermakov was elected Head of the Analytical Chemistry Department, Professor P.K. Yablonsky was elected Head of the Hospital Surgery Department. O. V. Rybalchenko was nominated for the academic title Professor. 33 people were nominated for academic staff positions.

Miscellaneous included adoption of the extra list of candidate students (42 students) to be granted an incentivized state social scholarship in spring semester 2019/20, as well as other issues.

Moreover, the SPbU Academic Council adopted Regulation Granting the Title of Honor ‘Person of the Year at St. Petersburg University’. Under the Regulation, the Title of Honor ‘can be awarded annually to persons who are existing (former) employees or students at St. Petersburg University for outstanding achievements in science, education, culture, social and governmental activities’. The decision to grant the title is made by the College of SPbU Honorary Professors upon recommendation on behalf of the University staff.

Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 17 August 2020

1. St Petersburg University in ARWU-2020 ranking

The ARWU-2020 university ranking, that reflects statistics for 2019, has been published. St Petersburg University is the only Russian organisation recognised for in the Highly Cited Researchers criterion (Researchers from St Petersburg University are listed as the most cited scientists in the world).

In this group the University is represented by three luminary scientists: Gennady Leonov, Nikolay Kuznetsov, and Raul Gainetdinov who are registered with St Petersburg University as their primary affiliation. The University was therefore awarded an extra 12 points, which raised its ranking by dozens of positions as the common graph  shows. The University Administration is committed to seeing more high citation researchers among the University academic staff, as well as to support already employed high citation researchers.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 10 August 2020

1. Organisation of work amid measures to prevent COVID-19 spread

The University continues its operation in the existing format through 16 August 2020. Since 29 July the University Scientific Library has been open by prior registration to University visitors, teachers, research fellows, and administrative staff (Order No 6896/1 dated 24 July 2020 ‘Amendments to...’). A temporary procedure for all visitors to access the University museum collection was also approved. Now the Dmitri Mendeleev Museum and Archives and the Vladimir Nabokov Museum are operating according to a temporary timetable; the University is going to reopen access to its other collections in the near future (Museums of St Petersburg University reopen to visitors). The number of visitors inside the museum is strictly limited (5 or 10 visitors maximum depending on the museum indoor area).

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 3 August 2020

1. Admissions to degree programmes

31 July was the deadline for acceptance of documents and applications for aspirantura programmes. Compared to 2019, this year the number of applicants has grown by almost 300. At the moment, the period of admissions tests for applicants to aspirantura programmes has started.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 27 July 2020

1. Measures to prevent COVID-19 spread

From 27 July to 16 August 2020 the University continues to operate in the existing mode. Since 29 July the University Scientific Library is open by prior registration to University visitors, teachers, research fellows, and administrative staff (Order No 6896/1 dated 24 July 2020 ‘Amendments to...’). The Dmitri Mendeleev Museum and the Vladimir Nabokov Museum are reopening their doors to visitors. The number of visitors inside the museum is strictly limited (5 visitors maximum).

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 20 July 2020

1. Meeting of the St Petersburg University  Board of Trustees

On 15 July the St Petersburg University Board of Trustees held a meeting that was attended by President of the Board Dmitry Medvedev. The agenda was focused on the territorial development of St Petersburg University. Dmitry Medvedev noted that St Petersburg University has a fairly positive image in international university rankings. He highlighted that the University’s territorial development is bound to ensure future success of its students by establishing technical capacities for years to come. The full text of Dmitry Medvedev’s speech is available in the VKontakte official group of St Petersburg University.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 13 July 2020

The Rector's meeting was held on 13 July 2020 via video conference. It addressed the following issues:

1. Admission to the academic programmes of St Petersburg University

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 6 July 2020

The Rector's meeting was held on 6 July 2020 as a video conference. It addressed the following issues:

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 29 June 2020

The meeting was conducted as a video conference, and it addressed the following issues.

1.  Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 22 June 2020

As proposed by the Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Korpachev, the meeting began with a moment of silence to mark the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow.

The participants of the meeting also held a moment of silence for Vataniar Saidovich Yagya, professor emeritus of St Petersburg University (https://spbu.ru/news-events/novosti/pamyati-pochetnogo-professora-spbgu-vatanyara-saidovicha-yagi) and the deceased St Petersburg University student Egor Panshin. 

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 15 June 2020

The University Rector Nikolay Kropachev suggested observing a minute of silence in tribute to the death of Vladislav Golikov, a University student (https://spbu.ru/news-events/novosti/pamyati-vladislava-golikova).

On 15 June 2020 the Rector’s meeting was held in videoconference format. The agenda was as follows:

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 8 June 2020

1. St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology laid the first stone of the joint campus

On 7 June 2020 the ceremonial laying of the first stone of the joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology took place in Harbin (PRC). Wang Wentao, Governor of the People's Government of Heilongjiang Province, the Rector of Harbin Institute of Technology Zhou Yu, and other officials witnessed the ceremony. Nikolay Kropachev, the Rector of St Petersburg University, participated in videoconference format (https://spbu.ru/news-events/novosti/spbgu-i-harbinskiy-politehnicheskiy-universitet-nachali-stroitelstvo-sovmestnogo).

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 1 June 2020

The University Rector Nikolay Kropachev  invited all meeting participants to observe a minute of silence  in honour of Innokentiy Zinoviev, Colonel (Res.) and Chairman of the University Council of Veterans of War, Labour, and Armed Forces (https://spbu.ru/news-events/novosti/pamyati-predsedatelya-soveta-veteranov-voyny-truda-i-voennoy-sluzhby-spbgu), and Viktor Riazanov, Chairman of the Department of Economics Theory and Honoured Professor of the University (https://spbu.ru/news-events/novosti/ushel-iz-zhizni-vydayushchiysya-uchenyy-ekonomist-professor-viktor-timofeevich).

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting No 426 dated 19 May 2020

1. Organization of teaching within military education programmes

The meeting started a few minutes late since N.M. Kropachev was having a talk with the State Secretary/Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, General N.A. Pankov about the organization of military training sessions for the University students during the pandemic. Earlier, the Virtual Reception Office received several requests, expressing concern about the upcoming military training sessions. Due to the shift towards distance learning, many university students went home to their native regions and, in their opinion, because of the epidemic prevention measures they might not be able to return in time for the military training sessions. Furthermore, according to the students, a long journey could increase the chances of getting sick and “bringing the virus” to the military training locations.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting No 427 dated 25 May 2020

1. Activities of SPbU Choir during the COVID-19 pandemic

At the beginning of the Rector’s Meeting, all the participants had a change to listen to the recording of the song “Our University” composed by L. Tikhomirov and performed by SPbU Choir (artistic director E. Krotman). 

This is not the first composition recorded by the University Choir during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Earlier, the choir already performed online the song “Coronavirus shall not pass!” composed by Sergei Pleshak.

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Minutes of the Rector's Meeting No 424 dated 12 May 2020

1. Organising the University activities in May

The educational and other activities of the University will continue to be organised in the same distance mode. At the meeting, it was noted that the interim and final assessment of students will proceed entirely in the online format.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting No 425 dated 15 May 2020

1. Organization of interim assessment

Interim assessment in the spring semester of the academic year 2019/2020 is organized to be held remotely, using the technologies suggested by the directors and the deans. The same tools are used that were used for teaching online classes. More than 9,000 students have already taken their tests and exams. Only a few requests connected with organizational matters were submitted by the students via the Virtual Reception service. There were also requests related to the assessment of exam results. The Virtual Reception service did not receive any requests from either students, the teacher staff or other staff members of the University in connection with the matters of technical organization of online interim assessment.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting No 423 dated 6 May 2020

1. State final certification in distance format

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting No 422 dated 02 May 2020

1. Set up of academic activities from May 1 to 11

Set up of University academic activities from May 1 to 11 was discussed (Order no. 3808/1 dated April 30, 2020 ‘On the implementation of academic programs’).

It was noted that the academic process the academic process has been running in distance format for over a month. The Virtual Reception is continuously receiving enquiries from students asking when education will return back to normal. The University is committed to follow the rules and regulations enforced in St. Petersburg as a Russian Federation constituent.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting No 421 dated 02 March 2020

1. SPbU Olympiad for School Students and Doors Open Days

Despite negative attitudes expressed by the majority of directors and deans at the Rector’s meeting on March 13 regarding the in-presence format of the SPbU Olympiad for School Students (Materials of the Rector’s meeting dated March 16, 2020), the University hosted the in-presence finals of the SPbU Olympiad for School Students on March 14 and 15 in six subject fields (The finals of the SPbU Olympiad for School Students are over).

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting No 420 dated 16 March 2020

1. Agreement between SPbU and the Ministry of Higher and Secondary-Specialized Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan

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