1. State final certification in distance format

The rules for state final certification procedure in exclusively distance format are undergoing amendment (Order no. 3832/1 dated May 4, 2020 ‘On SFC in distance format using dedicated educational technologies’). Members of the work group tasked to upgrade the rules (I. A. Balova, Director of the Institute of Chemistry, S. A. Belov, Dean of the Law Faculty, and S.Yu. Sevryukov, Head of the Information Technology Service) answered questions of the meeting participants (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated May 2, 2020). In particular, they explained it is suggested to reject the common videoconference format for graduate thesis defenses. It is common knowledge that the University has implementing its own thesis defense procedure for several years (SPbU own academic degrees: past and present; SPbU is the pioneer university in Russia to award academic degrees defended under new rules). Some members of the dissertation board participate in distance format. Meanwhile, due to stringent measures to counter the pandemic, thesis defense procedures under SPbU own rules were completely transferred in distance format (Academic degrees under SPbU own rules are now granted in distance format, ‘From Ancient Runiform Scripts to the Adventures of Ali Bey’: Apollinaria Avrutina successfully defended her doctoral dissertation in on-line format). Since March 23, 2020, by the Minutes publication date, 15 defenses had taken place in distant format (Order No. 2304/1 dated March 23, 2020 ‘On Changing the Procedure to Award the Candidate of Science Degree and the Doctor of Science Degree at SPbU’). To host a thesis defense, extensive preliminary work is permed using expert level equipment under the supervision of experienced engineers. The simplicity of the outcoming result unparalleled to the underlying costs and efforts to ensure zero risk of disruption. Each thesis defense requires measures to ensure non-disrupted connection and ability to communicate for roughly 12 users. Provided that over five thousand graduate theses are defended per month, the number of users involved in the process will skyrocket to thousands. Meanwhile, the more the number of participants, the higher the risk of technical disruption for individual users (flawed video communication, voice communication, disconnection, etc.); with every particular disruption during the defense being a potential excuse to undermine validity of all graduate theses defended within the flawed session.

Work group members reported that the rules of procedure include numerous suggestions by directors and deans. Notably, the SFC procedure shall be independent and supervised. Therefore, defenses are held via the SPbU Blackboard information support system. S.I. Sevryukov, Head of the Information Technology Service, highlighted that the Blackboard has integrated software and hardware; its functionality responsible to run graduate defenses is deprived of superfluous features of interface and adapts to every participant depending on their role and operated device. This functionality has been used for several years to accumulate documents for graduate defenses, making them accessible to SEC members; thus, the risk of disruption is mitigated. It was repeatedly emphasized that SFC would take longer time in distance format and should be split into stages. The meeting participants suggested to offer an elaborate description of what students should do during proctoring, as well as how SEC members should draft and approve minutes. Members also discussed differences in SFC procedure for students studying different academic programs were also discussed.

2. Individualized approach

Considering the enquiries received by the Virtual Student Admission Office regarding interim and final certification, M.Yu. Lavrikova, Senior First Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Methodological Support, provided comments to answers and described options at hand. Individual certification schedules, individual academic curricula, or an academic leave can be provided to students upon receit of a dedicated application (Academic leave or individual academic curricula to be provided to students).

3. Values to assess student involvement in the academic process

As a result of SPbU’s transition to distance learning format using remote education technologies, the values measuring student involvement in the academic process have significantly increased (class attendance, number of addresses to M. Gorky Academic Library web resources, registrations with on-line courses included in the academic process and those excluded from the academic process, etc.).

There is a paramount increase in student registrations with various on-line libraries versus the same period last year. For some subject areas, this value has increased 40-fold.

Based on the proposals submitted by heads academic and research subdivisions, over 9,800 University students were granted free access to on-line courses on the ‘Open Education’ national platform and Coursera within the distance learning framework to drive educational progress. Some 6,400 University students enrolled to on-line courses (including 4,033 on the Open Education platform and 2,007 on the Coursera platform). The academic process relies on the majority (over 100) of on-line courses developed by SPbU, including until recently. If students had to pay for certificates of completion, the income received would have surpassed 15 mln rubles (economists call it ‘lost profit’).

The meeting participants noted that attendance of on-line classes significantly increased across all academic programs (up to 80–90%). Earlier only freshers demonstrated such high values. As directors and deans put it, by senior years attendance would drop to as low as 10% for lectures and 50% for seminars at some faculties. In general, the University has never seen average over 50% before.

In April and May, statistics on number of addresses to on-line resources by SPbU users increased 4-fold versus the same period in 2019, predominantly in electronic library searches. The number of requests for soft copies of publications, that are essential to produce a term papers or a dissertation, is growing. Based on user requests, library employees try to provide access to licensed digitalized publications that were unavailable under the SPbU subscription before. Copyright holders (publishers and E-books) that respond to the SPbU demands, grant open access University users to enquired materials. Relevant information on new items available in open access during the lockdown and distance learning is published on the Library Highlights web page.

4. How to ensure interaction with chairs and members of Student Board Presidiums?

One of the issues under discussion was how to ensure ongoing interaction between directors of institutes, faculty deans, and chairs of Student Boards of relevant academic and research subdivisions. The meeting participants emphasized that relevant information on issues under discussion and discussion outcomes shall be published in open access.

5. SPbU at the Moscow International Education Show

Over ten thousand people visited the virtual SPbU booth at the Moscow International Education Show. Moreover, MIES 2020 events moderated by SPbU experts (in all areas from sociology to psychology, geography to robotics) attracted over 8,500 people (over 10,000 people visited the virtual SPbU booth at MIES 2020).

6. Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War (WWII)

SPbU Rector N. M. Kropachev congratulated the University students on the Victory Anniversary and expressed confidence that once the counter-pandemic measures are cancelled, the University will hold all the earlier scheduled commemorative events.

Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 6 November 2020

1. The conference of the work groups on ‘Politics and International Relations’ and ‘Economics, Trade and Resources’ of the KRD Forum

On 5 November 2020, a strategic conference of the work groups on ‘Politics and International Relations’ and ‘Economics, Trade and Resources’ of the Korea–Russia Dialogue Forum took place at St Petersburg University. The conference was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Russia. The event was held online.  

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 2 November 2020

1. Organisation of the learning process

Last week, 35 enquiries from teachers as well as students and their parents including 7 enquiries on academic issues were sent to the Virtual Reception. 16 enquiries were sent to the e-mail of Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods including 13 enquiries on academic issues. The enquiries included requests for certificates and other documents, questions on the procedures of transfer and reinstatement, financial aid requests, etc.  

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 26 October 2020

1. The commission for discussing the suggestions offered by Dr Yury Fedotov

Dr Yury Fedotov, Senior Vice-Rector for Medical Care and Director of the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies at St Petersburg University, applied to the University's Rector to open a department of postgraduate medical education and to set up an academic council of the Pirogov Clinic. The aim is to improve the quality and efficiency of education and research carried out in the Clinic. The Clinic has 16 Doctors of Sciences and 70 Candidates of Sciences (Medicine). These suggestions were discussed by the Academic Council of the Faculty of Medicine and the Academic Council of the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 19 October 2020

1. The University has five winners of the RSF - DFG joint competition for grants

The results of the fifth joint competition for grants from the Russian Science Foundation and German Research Foundation (DFG) have been announced. The competition was held within the priority field of research 'Fundamental Research and Exploratory Research by International Research Collaboration Teams'. Among the competition winners are 18 projects, including 5 projects proposed by scientists and scholars from the University. Three scientists work in the natural sciences and two in the humanities: A. Timoshkin, M. Vinarski, A. Saraev, L. Moskovkin, A. Filyushkin. The amount of each grant is six million roubles to be allocated annually. The implementation period of the research project is within 2021–2023 (The Russian Science Foundation will support 18 joint Russian–German projects). Our University has the best results among all research and educational institutions across Russia. No other institution has won more than one grant.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 12 October 2020

1. New members of the University Academic Council elected

On 21 September 2020, at a conference of research and teaching staff, a new University Academic Council was elected for a five-year period along with representatives of other categories of workers and students (Conference on the election of a new Academic Council of St Petersburg University).

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 5 October 2020

1. Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Taking into account the revised version of the Resolution of the Government of St Petersburg No 121 'On Measures to Counteract the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in St Petersburg' dated 13 March 2020, additional measures the University should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were discussed at this Rector's meeting. All University employees working under civil law contracts and not participating in the technological processes necessary for the life of the University are transferred to the online mode of work. The same mode is maintained for academic staff aged 65+ and employees with chronic diseases.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 30 September 2020

1. A representative office of St Petersburg University at the University for Foreigners of Siena

A week ago, a representative office of St Petersburg University was opened in Siena, Italy. The office is housed at the University for Foreigners of Siena, a partner of St Petersburg University. This is the sixth foreign representative office of St Petersburg University and the second in Europe. The University uses its representative offices to organise various events, such as lectures, seminars, conferences, roundtable discussions, exhibitions of students' creative works, and joint competitions. The efficiency of the representative offices is reflected in the positions occupied by the University in the rankings, especially in such an indicator as internationalisation. Therefore, it is very important to organise the activities of the representative offices by filling their work with particular content. In this regard, Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, asked the meeting participants to submit proposals on the activities that could be organised at the new representative office in Italy.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 14 September 2020

1. Influenza vaccination campaign

This year earlier than ever St Petersburg University has started the seasonal influenza mass vaccination. Influenza vaccination is the responsibility of territorial healthcare authorities. The University Rector addressed enquiries to concerned vice-governors to deploy mobile vaccination points on University campuses in Vasileostrovsky and Petrodvortsovy districts, so that students and staff could benefit from getting a vaccine near their homes, work or study place. The enquiry is still to be considered. Without further ado, the University approved the student vaccination schedule with Outpatient Clinic No 3 and its administration; vaccination points will be set up inside University buildings at 16/18 7th Line, Vasilyevsky Island. The vaccination schedule for another point at 35 Universitetsky prospect is pending approval with St Nikolas Hospital administration. Vaccination schedules will be tailored to the academic timetable and posted on the University website.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 7 September 2020

1. The results of the meeting of the Council for Governmental Support of the Creation and Development of World-Class Research Centres carrying out research and development in the priority areas of science and technology – the world-class research centre 'Agrotechnologies of the Future'

On 28 August, a meeting was held of the Council for Governmental Support of the Creation and Development of World-Class Research Centres carrying out research and development in the priority areas of science and technology. It was chaired by Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. The meeting summed up the results of the competitive selection. Valery Falkov announced that 60 applications had been received in 2020 (St Petersburg University was presented in four applications). 11 out of 60 applications were selected for face-to-face consideration featuring presentation of charts.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 24 August 2020

1. Preparation for the new academic year

This year the academic timetable is the most crucial challenge of all the preparation efforts, considering that it must comply with all the COVID-19 spread prevention measures and requirements. Currently, the timetable for the 2020/2021 academic year is 70% ready and reflects the proposals submitted by deans and directors.

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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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