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.
In order to resolve this issue, the University administration consulted the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. The rector informed the participants of the meeting about the results of his conversation with the State Secretary/Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, General N.A. Pankov. As soon as the decision is formally documented and is received by SPbU, the University students will be immediately informed.
2. SPbU Professor A.V. Kavokin is the first Russian scientist to receive the Quantum Devices Award
Professor A.V. Kavokin, the Head of the SPbU Spin Optics Laboratory, has become the first Russian scientist to receive the Quantum Devices Award. The Organising Committee stated that the prize was awarded to Alexey Kavokin for predicting Bose-Einstein exciton and excitonic polaron condensation at room temperature, which led to the development of polariton lasers. These lasers can be used to create qubits, the basic units of quantum computers of the future.
Because of the global pandemic, the awards ceremony will take place next year, during the Compound Semiconductor Week 2021 in Sweden.
The Quantum Devices Award was initiated in 2000 by Fujitsu Quantum Devices Ltd., affiliated with Fujitsu, a major Japanese electronics manufacturer and IT company. Today the award is supported by the ISCS Japanese Committee - the Japanese section of the Steering Committee of the International Symposium on Compound Semiconductors - along with two other prestigious scientific awards, namely the Welker Award and the Young Scientist Award. (The SPbU physicist Alexey Kavokin has become the first Russian scientist to receive the ISCS 2020 Quantum Devices Award.)
3. On the possibility of taking final state examinations next year
The Virtual Reception Office received a request from a student of Asian studies, who believes that due to the cancellation of final state exams, the graduates of the “Asian and African Studies” programme will be unable to prove their knowledge of rare oriental languages. It was explained at the meeting that there are several ways to address this issue. As you know, since 2010 SPbU has been issuing its own institutional diplomas to its graduates. During these years, the format of the diploma has been improved several times. For example, starting with 2016, all diplomas have a QR code that allows potential employers to obtain full information about the graduate. By following the link to the personal page of the University graduate on the SPbU portal, the employer can also read the text of his diploma paper/project.
The right of SPbU to issue its own diplomas provides for a lot of opportunities. At the meeting, it was decided to allow students graduating in 2020, if they so wish, to take the state exam next year, together with the students graduating in 2021. The document confirming successful passing of the exam will be issued as a supplement to the 2020 diploma. This opportunity will be given to students of all educational programmes. As for a foreign language exam, it can also be taken at the SPbU Language Testing Centre.
4. On the results of proctoring system testing
The participants of the meeting were informed about the results of proctoring system testing. From May 12 to May 25 (as of the day of the publication of the report), 2078 students took part in the testing and left their feedback. 1784 of the students reported that they had no problems or questions about the procedure. The students who contacted technical support received a pertinent answer. Besides, additional sessions are being organized for those students who could not participate in the testing in due time.
The Head of the Information Technology Service S.Yu. Sevryukov reminded the meeting participants that technical support can be contacted not only when students are faced with a problem, but also when they have questions regarding the testing procedure. If students were unable to take part in the testing at the time assigned for them or encountered any difficulties, they can leave a request for retesting. Requests should be submitted to the head of the educational department of their main field of studies.
5. Graduation project defence organization and academic leaves of absence
The Virtual Reception Office received a request from a student who said that for two months after the introduction of the quarantine measures “he had not had access to some part of the equipment necessary to complete his graduation project”. He admitted that he had the option of simulating all the systems on a computer, but he failed to configure the necessary software. At the same time, he did not contact the University to ask for help. The student stated that he no longer had enough time to complete his work on the graduation project and also could not submit any documents to support his claim of the problems he had encountered; however, he asked to be granted academic leave in this situation. The meeting participants paid attention to the fact that the request under consideration clearly conveyed the psychological state of the student. The student will be granted the academic leave he has asked for.
At the meeting of the SPbU Student Council held on May 15 in the video conference format, students were informed again of the possibility for students to obtain their individual assessment schedule, their individual study schedule or an academic leave (Proceedings of the Rector’s Meeting held on 6 May 2020).
6. Organization of online teaching
The traditional issue concerning the problems in organizing distance learning did not take much time. Directors of the institutes and deans of the faculties reported that they had not received any complaints from students or teachers with regard to the educational process. The First Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Methodological Support M.Yu. Lavrikova reported that the Virtual Reception Office had received just a few questions related to conducting classes in the remote format, and all of them were quickly resolved. The participants of the meeting stressed that the main thing for resolving any emerging issues was efficient feedback: if requests from students and teachers are received, they, of course, are resolved. The participants emphasized the effectiveness of dealing with requests through the Virtual Reception Office.
7. On volunteering
During the pandemic, SPbU student volunteers (the Volunteer Centre) launched the SPbU Superheroes Project to help older people, including the teachers and other staff members of the University, by delivering foodstuffs, medicines, and the living essentials as well as taking out garbage and walking the pets.
80 volunteers were registered to participate in the project. Starting from March 25, more than a hundred University staff members received help from the volunteers. Some of them now receive regular visits from the volunteers. Many university staff members when applying for assistance ask for a particular volunteer, trusting them and describing them as highly responsible and well organized individuals.
Besides, in order to support SPbU students during self-isolation, a student call centre was launched: student volunteers provide advice and consultation on various issues, including the use of online services and information resources. During the period since the call centre started its work (on March 27), 10 volunteers have provided consultation services to more than a hundred people.
Before the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in World War II, the volunteers delivered gifts to veterans, survivors of the Siege of Leningrad, home front workers, and war children. In three days, more than 300 people received gifts from the University, delivered by the volunteers.
The Vice Rector for Formative Education and Admissions A.V. Babich said that, in connection with volunteering, University students can contact the responsible curator for this line of work, Deputy Head of the Youth Office O.P. Noskova.