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.
2. On arrangements for practical training opportunities
Organizational matters in connection with arrangements for student practical training opportunities (museum practice, archaeological practice, etc.) were discussed at the meeting. A lot of practical training has already been provided or is still being provided in the online study mode (including clinical skills training). Following the proposals of some directors and deans, the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Methodological Support has made a decision to postpone some types of practical training to August-September, including fieldwork study visits (for example, for students of the Institute of Earth Sciences and the Institute of History) and for the following academic periods (practical training in astronomy, physics, etc.), if the restrictions imposed in certain areas due to the pandemic are lifted.
3. Organization of research work under the conditions of coronavirus restrictions
In connection with the measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), SPbU has introduced restrictions on employee access to the premises of the University. These restrictions cannot but affect the organization of the work of SPbU researchers, and especially their use of the Research Park equipment.
The Vice-Rector for Research S.V. Mikushev informed the participants of the meeting about receiving a large number of requests from University staff members, who want to be allowed access to the premises of the University (to carry out their research work, to fulfil their obligations under current grants/agreements, etc.).
At the moment, University staff members are only allowed to enter laboratory facilities for research work if such access is necessary to maintain the uninterrupted operation of the working equipment, if it is impossible to stop a long-term experiment, or if there is a risk of an emergency or an unexpected situation.
If staff members need to access the experimental base in order to fulfil their obligations under current grants/agreements, an official memo should be sent to the Vice-Rector for Research S.V. Mikushev, stating the reasons for the need to carry out the work connected with grant and contract obligations, and substantiating the need to carry out the work in question at this moment in time.
After the inspection of the obligations, a schedule will be created for staff members to get access to the equipment and other infrastructure. Staff members will not be allowed access to office premises; they shall continue to work remotely.
S.V. Mikushev named the main factors that are taken into account when a decision is made on granting access to the premises and the minimum requirements that the individuals who are granted access need to comply with. He also emphasized that if SPbU staff members are found to be violating the requirements, the Vice-Rector for Research or persons authorized by him shall make a decision to withdraw the permission of such individuals to access the premises, without the right of getting such access again. S.V. Mikushev gave specific examples of such decisions.
The main factors that are taken into account when decisions are made on granting access to the premises:
the need to carry out specific experimental work using the research equipment in order to fulfil the obligations under current grants/agreements;
presentation of a precise schedule, detailing the staff members’ presence on the premises (indicating room numbers, the dates and time intervals of staff member presence);
the availability of sufficient premise space and the possibility to comply with the safety requirements when carrying out the experimental work;
the ability to get to the place of work only on private vehicles or on foot (for people living within walking distance from the place of work).
SPbU staff members who belong to the following categories shall not be allowed access to the University premises: pregnant women; women with children under 14 years old; staff members 65 years old; staff members with diseases requiring self-isolation.
The minimum requirements that the individuals who are granted access need to comply with are as follows:
SPbU staff members showing signs of infectious diseases cannot be allowed to enter SPbU premises;
Not more than two employees can be present in one laboratory room at the same time;
The employees shall air the room every two hours;
The employees are obliged to sanitize the premises with disinfectants: door handles, switches, railings, contact surfaces, etc.
4. On organizing the final state assessment
A detailed discussion of draft guidelines for participants of final state assessment took place at the meeting. The draft guidelines had been prepared by the working group, consisting of the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics V. O. Titov, the Chairmen of the Teaching and Methodological Committees for Legal Studies S.M. Olennikov; the Head of the General Office of Academic Affairs and Methodological Support E.A. Zeletdinova; the Head of the Information Technology Service S.Yu. Sevryukov; the Head of the Academic Affairs Office N.G. Boiko; the Head of the Department of Educational Programmes M.A. Solovieva; Deputy Head of the Department of Educational Programmes E.M. Repina; Deputy Head of the Information Technology Service I.L. Sheronov.
The day before the meeting, draft projects were sent to all directors of institutes and deans of faculties, and many of them submitted their comments and suggestions. Some of the directors and deans had an opportunity to discuss these instructions with members of the teaching staff and student councils. During the meeting, all these proposals were discussed. Following the results of the discussion, the working group was instructed to introduce appropriate changes to the projects and send the updated guidelines to the heads of educational and research departments not later than May 17. Deans and directors are to submit their opinions not later than 16 May 2020.
5. Testing the organization of the final state assessment
The Head of the Information Technology Service S.Yu. Sevryukov presented a report on testing the proctoring system by SPbU students. From May 12 to May 14, students of the Institute of Earth Sciences, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the Institute of History, and the Institute of Philosophy (a total of 911 students) were to take part in the testing of the proctoring system. 721 students took part in the testing. 601 of them indicated in the questionnaire that their equipment fully met the requirements of the proctoring system. At the same time, everyone who had not participated in the testing was given an opportunity to do so from May 15 to May 17. As of the date of the publication of the material, 62 people took this opportunity. Based on the results, only ten of them requested help from the support service. Attention was drawn to the fact that all students who for some reason wanted to do a retest needed to contact the educational departments for the integrated groups of main fields of studies, and in due time they would be notified about the dates and the procedure for retesting.
6. Participation of SPbU in the Competitions for Research Grants of the Ministry of Education and Science
The Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation has announced competitive selection for research grants in the form of subsidies for large-scale research projects in the priority areas of scientific and technological development. Only one application may be submitted from SPbU as one legal entity. At the same time, SPbU may participate as a co-executor in other applications as part of the consortia with other universities.
SPbU departments were asked to come up with proposals. The Office of the Vice-Rector for Research received 17 proposals. Eight proposals involved SPbU as a participant of different consortia, with the application being submitted by partner organizations (the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, the Institute for Problems in Mechanical Engineering of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IPME RAS), Don Technical University, the Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IEPHB RAS), Omsk Pedagogical University, the Research Institute for Agricultural Microbiology, V.A. Trapeznikov Institute of Control Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the National Research Centre “Kurchatov Institute”), while nine proposals involved SPbU as the principal research organization. All the projects submitted are undoubtedly of high research merit and worthy of participation in the competition. Following the results of the internal selection of the nine projects presented, it was decided to prepare and submit an application for the proposal entitled “Developing personalized functional food products aimed at achieving active human longevity, reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis and nervous disorders” (research work led by A.A. Frolov and E.V. Tsvetkova), with SPbU as the principal research organization.
At the same time, SPbU may participate as co-executor in other applications as a participant of the consortia with other organizations. All such projects will be supported by SPbU, so please contact the Vice-Rector for Research or the Department of Research Projects for matters regarding the preparation of applications.
On 20 March 2020, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation announced the second stage of competitive selection for grants in the form of subsidies from the federal budget, providing state support for the establishment and development of world-class research centres to carry out research and development in the priority areas of scientific and technological development. Four applications were submitted by SPbU as part of consortia, including one initiative application from SPbU to create a world-class scientific centre “Chembiomed: Breakthrough Technologies in Medicine” (responsible researchers N.R. Skrynnikov and I.A. Balova), together with the Institute of Cytology RAS.
SPbU acts as a member of consortia in three other projects for the establishment and development of world-class research centres:
“Advanced nanotechnology of a new generation components for photonics, electronics, spintronics and sensors” (responsible researchers D.V. Dubrovsky and A.V. Kavokin), together with the project initiator the Ioffe Institute of Physics and Technology;
“Agrotechnologies of the Future” (responsible researcher I.A. Tichonovich), together with the project initiator the Russian State Agrarian University - Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy;
“The Centre for Atmospheric and Climate Problems” (responsible researcher Yu.M. Timofeev), together with the project initiator A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The application deadline closed on 12 May 2020; the results will be announced in mid-July 2020. Based on the results of the competitive selection, grants will be awarded to provide state support for the establishment and development of at least three centres.