The meeting was conducted as a video conference, and it addressed the following issues.
1. Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19
The lockdown at the University will be maintained from 29 June through 12 July. Researchers and teaching staff will be allowed onto the grounds of the University to work in the research centres of the St Petersburg University Research Park (as before, no more than 300 individuals a day) (see Order No 5987/1 dated 26 June 2020 ‘On measures to prevent…’)
Some of the staff who have received clearance have not made use of it, or have used it sparingly (for example, one day out of five). As a result, others have not been able to exercise their right to gain access to the University grounds. Therefore, the lists will be adjusted to correspond to the actual situation, which is to say that clearance will be withdrawn from those who have no need for it.
2. Management of the end-of-semester assessment
The University’s end-of-semester assessment is coming to a close. In the past week, the Virtual Reception has received 74 appeals on academic matters from students and teachers, and Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Teaching Methods, has received another 21 through her corporate email. Of these, 17 had to do with the management of the exams and pass/fail tests. There were, among others, questions about changes in the timetable for the exams, about the material that was included from the last semester of the master’s programme, about visa support for foreign students, about the results of the exams and about the procedure for issuing diplomas.
3. Management of the State Final Certification
Over the past week, 364 graduate qualification defences have been held, and they were carried out by 75 State Examination Boards. As a result, 251 students received a mark of ‘excellent’; 103, a mark of ‘good’; and 10, a mark of ‘satisfactory’. There were no ‘unsatisfactory’ marks.
One third of the state examinations for law students in bachelor’s programmes have already been held. The results show that 48 students received a mark of ‘excellent’; 94, a mark of ‘good’; and 47, a mark of ‘satisfactory’. There were no ‘unsatisfactory’ marks. State examinations have also been held for 126 resident physicians from different programmes at the Faculty of Medicine. The results are the following: 94 of them received a mark of ‘excellent’; 30, a mark of ‘good’; and 2, a mark of ‘satisfactory’. State examinations have been held for 94 resident dentists as well, with the following results: 87 of them received a mark of ‘excellent’; 4, a mark of ‘good’; and 3, a mark of ‘satisfactory’.
During this past week, 5 appeals have been filed by law students. Two of them were upheld, but the final mark was changed in only one case. In the second case, the student received more points, but this did not affect the mark.
4. St Petersburg University has received a grant from the Ministry of Education and Science
St Petersburg University took part in a competition conducted by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation for grants to be awarded in the form of federal subsidies under the project ‘Provision of the possibility by the year 2024 for no less than 20 percent of students in higher learning educational programmes to take courses and disciplines (modules), including online courses, using the resources of other educational organisations, including universities, to ensure that the quality of the education provided to students is in keeping with the world standard’. The bid was drafted by the Centre of E-Learning Development at St Petersburg University. Igor Tikhonovich, the dean of the Faculty of Biology and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Kirill Chistiakov, the director of the Institute of Earth Sciences at St Petersburg University, provided considerable assistance. The University submitted an application for the project ‘A series of online courses on the agrobiotechnology of plants’ in the category ‘The development of online courses in Agriculture and the Agricultural Sciences’, and it was declared the winner of the grant. In all, 21 applications had been submitted in this category.
The participants in the meeting also discussed the results of the board meeting of the Russian Union of Rectors, which was devoted to the organisation of agricultural education in Russia. At this meeting, Dean of the Faculty of Biology Igor Tikhonovich gave a presentation on interdisciplinary research in the field of biology and agriculture at St Petersburg University (presentation of Igor Tikhonovich).
5. Participation of members of the public in monitoring the financial and business activities of St Petersburg University
In 2015, to boost the managerial effectiveness of the University’s business operations, a system of transparency in the planning, acceptance and carrying out of work and services was introduced (https://spbu.ru/openuniversity/documents/materialy-rektorskogo-soveshchaniya-410#p4; https://spbu.ru/topics/2391; https://spbu.ru/news-events/novosti/sostoyanie-universiteta-pod-kontrolem-studentov). Information about planned events and their outcomes is published on the University site (https://spbu.ru/topics/2391; https://spbu.ru/openuniversity/documents/o-formirovanii-komissii-po-priemke-vypolnennyh-rabot-po-dogovoram-ot). Anybody who wants to can take part in the acceptance of work and services. Among others, representatives of the employees’ trade union committee and the student council, along with members of the University community who are using facilities that are under repair, must be included in the work acceptance commissions (https://spbu.ru/sites/default/files/20181003_9567_1.pdf; https://spbu.ru/topics/2391). Representatives of the public are always informed well in advance about upcoming job tenders. Any decision made by the work acceptance commission is documented in an act, which all of the commission’s members, including representatives of the public, sign.
All of that having been said, unfortunately, representatives of the public do not always take part in hiring decisions.
As of 1 June 2020, more than 60 types of work were either under way or had been carried out, including the following:
- technical services (7)
- maintenance services for the premises and the grounds (12)
- emergency work (4)
- project design (23)
- repair work (8)
- overhaul of a façade (1)
6. An action plan for a barrier-free environment
The University has submitted an application to participate in a new phase of the federal action plan A Barrier-Free Environment. A plan has been approved for activities connected with the forming of such an environment at St Petersburg University (see Order No 5963/1 dated 26 June 2020 ‘On approval of a plan of action…’). Since more than 27 percent of the buildings at St Petersburg University are considered to be historical and qualify as cultural heritage sites, it is generally impossible to create a barrier-free environment in them. The directors and deans were instructed to send any suggestions or comments they might have about the plan of activities.
7. Elections to a new Academic Council
At a meeting on 25 June, the St Petersburg University Academic Council decided to hold a conference on 21 September of research and teaching staff, along with representatives of other categories of workers and students at the University, to elect a new Academic Council.
In light of this, other issues connected with organisation of the conference were discussed, including possible dates for meetings of the academic councils at the institutes and faculties. Proposals made by the directors of the institutes and the deans of the faculties concerning the requirements for becoming a member of the Academic Council were analysed. An overwhelming majority of those present agreed that the University’s Academic Council itself should establish specific requirements involving a candidate’s length of service at the University and their holding of an academic degree. As a result, the Academic Council was asked to come up with the following requirements: ‘A candidate for membership in the St Petersburg University Academic Council, to be elected at a University Conference on the recommendation of the academic councils of the University’s institutes and faculties, must have a degree that is recognised by St Petersburg University, and they must have held an academic position with the University as their primary place of work for at least five years.’
During this discussion, other proposals were adopted as well. Academicians or Associate Members of the Russian Academy of Science may stand for election to the St Petersburg University Academic Council even if they do not work full-time at the University. And researchers and teaching staff at St Petersburg University who hold the titles of Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation or Honoured Performing Artist of the Russian Federation are on an equal footing with those who hold academic degrees.