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.

The acceptance of documents to the programmes of non-university level higher education (St Petersburg University Medical College and St Petersburg University College of Physical Culture and Sports, Economics and Technology) will continue until 15 August. The dynamics of the number of submitted applications is estimated as comparable to last year’s indicators (about 1000 applicants).

On 18 August, the acceptance of applications and documents from candidates applying solely on the basis of the results of the Unified State Exam to government-funded places will finish. 26 August will be the deadline for those applying for contractual places. There was a shift in the admissions schedule for bachelor’s / specialist’s programmes caused by the rescheduling of the Unified State Exams. Therefore, it seems inappropriate to carry out a comparative analysis with the last year’s indicators for this period. However, we can say that at the moment about 16,000 applicants want to become students of St Petersburg University.

The acceptance of applications and documents to clinical residency programmes will continue until 11 August. At present, the number of applicants has exceeded last year’s figures by 200.

Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received about 100 applications from applicants and their parents. They were devoted to various issues related to admission to the University, namely: the operability of information systems; competitive selection of documents (portfolios); consideration of individual achievements; admission of winners and awardees of school olympiads; summing up of the results of admissions tests to master’s programmes; and so on. Prompt decisions are made on all the issues received by the Virtual Reception: if the reasonability of the applications received is confirmed, positive decisions regarding the applicants are made in all such cases. At the same time, many applicants send repeated requests to the Virtual Reception, expressing their gratitude and asking to withdraw the previously submitted application, since the problem has already been solved. Such feedback demonstrates high efficiency of the Virtual Reception as a method of communication and quick solution to problems encountered by the applicants.

In accordance with the Decree of the Russian Government No 889 ’On the procedure and criteria for the distribution to educational organisations of additional admission quotas for specialities and fields of study and/or consolidated groups of specialities and fields of study of government-funded degree programmes in 2020′ dated 19 June 2020, the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education has distributed additional admission quotas for the 2020/2021 academic year among the educational organisations of higher education. It should be noted that, in doing so, the Ministry did not request the University to submit any application related to the provision of additional government-funded places. By the decision of the Ministry, the University was allocated the following additional government-funded places for the 2020/2021 academic year: seven places in three clinical residency programmes (’Roentgenology’ — one place; ’Infectious Diseases’ — two places; ’Oncology’ — four places) and two places in the bachelor’s programme ’Physical Training and Sport’. For comparison: Lomonosov Moscow State University was allocated 17 additional admission quotas for the 2020/2021 academic year. The total number of additional government-funded places allocated by the Ministry makes up about 11,000. Most of them were allocated to regional educational institutions of higher education.

2. Getting ready for the new academic year

On 31 July, Valery Falkov, Russian Minister of Science and Higher Education, held a meeting of university rectors. He announced that Russian higher education institutions will start the educational process on 1 September, as usual. Yet, certain restrictions related to the requirements for the prevention of the novel coronavirus disease will be introduced. These requirements are specified in a document approved by the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Russian Federation on 29 July 2020. Among other things, this document contains recommendations for the prevention of COVID-19 at higher education institutions. This decree regulates not only the hygienic measures (cleaning and ventilation of rooms), but also the organisation of the entire educational process.

One of the main requirements is observance of the face mask mandate during lectures. It must be observed by all persons involved in the educational process. Disposable personal protective equipment should be changed regularly. The face mask may be removed in two cases: when conducting creative classes or during lectures (for teachers). In addition, it is necessary to provide ventilation of classrooms during breaks and measure the temperature of each person entering the University buildings. Also, people showing any signs of an infectious disease are not allowed into the University buildings. If such signs are identified during the educational process, an ambulance team will be immediately called to hospitalise such individuals. After arriving in Russia, international students will be admitted to the educational process only after 14 days’ isolation and upon submission of a negative PCR test result.

In addition, academic workers aged 65 and over, as well as academic workers with chronic diseases regardless of their age will not be admitted to classroom-based work. All the requirements specified in the 29 July document will be fully complied with and taken into account when drawing up the schedule for the new academic year. Rospotrebnadzor also recommends to assign, where possible, a particular classroom to each study group, to take measures to minimise student communication and to prevent crowded public areas.

The directors and the deans were instructed to review this document in detail and submit their proposals on how to apply these requirements to the academic process.

3. On organisation of practical training

Pursuant to the proposals of the directors of the institutes and deans of the faculties, Order No 4471/1 ’On conducting practical training in the 2019/2020 academic year’ dated 20 May 2020 (as subsequently amended) was revised (Order No 6904/1 dated 24 July 2020). Due to the fact that certain restrictions related to the novel coronavirus disease are still in effect, field trips of University students have been postponed and / or will be held in a different format. Some of the practices will be integrated into the educational process in the upcoming semesters.

4. The matriculation ceremony for first-year students of St Petersburg University — 2020

Due to the fact that Rospotrebnadzor’s ban on public events participated in by students is still in force in St Petersburg, the matriculation ceremony for first-year students of St Petersburg University on 31 August will be held in a mixed format. Most of the events will take place online. Active preparation for the ceremony is in progress. The directors and the deans will record their welcome speeches for new students and congratulations on the beginning of the new academic year. Some of the events, such as setting afloat Ships of Hope and ceremonial flying of the flag, will be held offline, yet only direct participants will be present at them. The programme of the event also includes lectures given by top University scientists.

5. On the Concept for the Implementation of National Goals in the Field of Science and Higher Education

On 13 July 2020, Valery Falkov, Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, presented the Concept for the Implementation of National Goals in the Field of Science and Higher Education Until 2030 within the framework of the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects (Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects). The new document identifies targets and socially significant results in the field of higher education. For example, it is necessary to provide government-funded places at higher education institutions for at least half of the school and college leavers in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. In addition, a strategic academic leadership programme has been proposed to replace the 5-100 Project. The new programme will integrate the results of several existing federal projects: ’Young Professionals’; ’New Opportunities for Everyone’; ’Export of Education’; and ’Infrastructure of the Science National Project’.

The programme contains specific indicators that must be achieved by the participating universities. Also, there are indicators common to the entire higher education system. For instance, doubling of the number of international students at Russian universities. This indicator will be fixed in the St Petersburg University Strategic Plan 2021–2030. Another example of an indicator common to the entire system of higher education is as follows: the Concept provides for the renovation of 380,000 out 1 million places in the halls of residence of Russian universities. By comparison, the state of the University’s halls of residence is significantly worse than the national average. 65% of the places require major renovation and more than 30% are in need of routine repairs. The general deterioration of the engineering infrastructure of the University buildings exceeds 80%. Senior Vice-Rector Elena Chernova reminded the participants of the meeting that back in 1998 the deans of three special faculties carried out a general analysis of the state of St Petersburg University buildings and submitted their conclusions and proposals to the Rector. One of their conclusions was: if the University buildings stay without renovation, they will begin to collapse by 2006 (’Renovation under supervision’ (Part 1 and Part 2), ’Construction works at St Petersburg University: the past and the present’ (Part 1 and Part 2), Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 23 September 2019, and Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 28 October 2019).

The directors and the deans were instructed to study the Concept in detail for the next Rector’s Meeting.

6. St Petersburg University Strategic Plan 2021–2030

The St Petersburg University Strategic Plan is being developed (Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 15 June 2020, Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 10 February 2020). Previously, the directors and the deans had been instructed to submit their proposals on any new areas, activities and indicators to be taken into account in creating the new Strategic Plan. Over 160 such proposals were received and 109 of them were taken into account in the forthcoming draft.

The main results for 2010–2019 in all areas of the University’s activity were presented at the meeting. Thus, the University has managed to significantly increase the number of international students during this period (2010 — 1,809; 2019 — 3,775). According to the Concept for the Implementation of National Goals in the Field of Science and Higher Education, by 2030 this indicator should also be doubled. In addition, there is an increase in the number of non-degree programmes and students enrolled in them. In 2010, the total number of students was 1,472, while in 2019 this figure increased to 11,084. The number of partner universities has also expanded. The clinical model of internships is on a strong track: instead of two clinics, there are now eight. Over the years, the number of participants in School Olympiads held by the University has grown significantly. That became possible due to the inclusion of these Olympiads into the list approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. One of the most significant results in the field of education was a significant increase in the grade point average of the applicants to St Petersburg University: from 76.3 points in 2010 to 92.4 in 2019.

The previous Strategic Plan set forth the task to increase the number of double-degree programmes. From 2010 to 2019, the number of such programmes has increased from 4 to 14. The number of the University’s partner employers has increased significantly: now the employers’ representatives are members of educational and methodological boards, councils of educational programmes, and state assessment boards. There is also a positive trend in the growth of non-resident applicants (Steps to open admissions).

In the field of science, there has been a significant increase in the number of University scientific journals indexed in Science Metrix databases (in 2010: one journal out of 19; in 2019: 16 journals out of 28). Almost 80 foreign scientists work at the University under labour contracts. As of 2019, 118 projects of University scientists were supported by the Russian Science Foundation and 315 by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research. The number of Scopus indexed publications has increased: from 1,307 (2010) to 4,338 (2019); as well as Web of Science indexed papers: from 1,098 to 3,799. In addition, 19 small innovative enterprises have been created from scratch at the University during this period, and 11 grants related to the creation of mega-laboratories led by the world’s top scientists have been approved.

The University’s expert activity in 2010–2019 is characterised by the expansion of the subject areas of expertise. In 2010 the expertise was mainly limited to only ten subject areas, while today the University is positioned as a centre of expert advice for public authorities, with the number of its areas of expertise having been increased to 36. Also, the number of academic workers involved in expert activities has increased fourfold. Due to the efforts of the University’s senior managers, expert activity became part of the governmental assignment for St Petersburg University (Anton Popov: ’Anyone may apply to St Petersburg University for expert advice’; How do we write the University’s history today? or The historical memory of generations, Expert University).

In addition, the University’s senior staff managed to achieve the inclusion of museum activity into the list of the main activities of the University. Now the total number of items in the University’s museum holdings makes up three million units (’The University museums: a victorious leap from the past into the future’ (Part 1 and Part 2)).

The outgoing mobility of St Petersburg University students educated at a foreign partner university has almost doubled. The number of partner universities has also increased (from 319 to 533). St Petersburg University has opened four representative offices abroad and increased the number of foreign teachers and students who took part in academic mobility programmes (How the University changed the way it runs its international affairs). The number of ’Russian as a Foreign Language’ Language Testing Centres abroad has increased from 6 to 80. They play a significant role in promoting the Russian language overseas (‘Those who decide to learn Russian are amazing people’: about the work of the Language Testing Centre; From one to twenty languages: how the Language Testing Centre of St Petersburg University works; A boost for the Russian language: St Petersburg University holds an online marathon for teachers from over 100 countries).

In 2018, the Rector succeeded in fulfilling the electoral mandate he was charged with as a candidate for the University Rector’s position in 2008 (Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 9 July 2012). The University has finally opened its own medical clinic. The Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies at St Petersburg University is one of the most efficient specialised surgical organisations in Russia. It has a major pool of highly qualified doctors (The clinic of tomorrow is already here today; The Pirogov Clinic of St Petersburg University is ranked as one of the best medical institutions in St Petersburg; Over 5,000 operations have been performed at the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies during the pandemic; The Pirogov Clinic of St Petersburg University ranked first among the St Petersburg medical institutions).

In 2011, a Virtual Reception anyone can apply to was created at St Petersburg University. It was the first tool of such kind at the disposal of the Russian universities (St Petersburg University Student Council and students’ rights: from the past to the present; Students influence the quality of education at St Petersburg University; Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 23 March 2020). During these years, the number of appeals to the Virtual Reception has grown from 397 to 2,533. During the pandemic, it was the only opportunity for students and teachers to contact the University administration and ask any question.

During this rector’s meeting, Senior Vice-Rector Elena Chernova spoke about the main requirements for the structure and contents of the University Strategic Plan. It is necessary to define the goals, ways to achieve them, and a set of measures that will help achieve these goals. The structure of the Strategic Plan should contain quantitative and substantive characteristics that are included into its application package. The contents requirements are specified by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. First of all, the Plan must comply with: the strategic documents; modern challenges of the economy; the demands of the labour market and the technology market; and advanced scientific achievements. The contents should meet the requirements of assertiveness; yet at the same time be realistic and ensure continuity in the development of the goals set by the previous Strategic Plan that were achieved wholly or partially. The new Strategic Plan should absorb the best practices and accumulated scientific and research achievements.

7. Results of ’The University League’ competition organised by Gazprom Neft

In early June 2020, Gazprom Neft PJSC initiated a competition for higher education institutions titled ’The University League of Gazprom Neft PJSC’. The University submitted information within the framework of competitive selection, and prepared an application that included a presentation of University projects (20 projects). The application was submitted on 01 July 2020. More than 40 Russian universities located in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Tyumen, Omsk, Ufa and other cities took part in the final stage of the selection. According to Gazprom Neft’s letter No NK-20/010745 dated 31 July 2020, St Petersburg University became one of the company’s preferred partners — members of the University League of Gazprom Neft. In the near future, it is planned to sign a cooperation agreement between St Petersburg University and Gazprom Neft within the framework of the University League project.

8. Results of the competition for the right to conduct major scientific projects in priority areas of science and technology

The Ministry of Science and Higher Education announced the results of the competition for the right to conduct major scientific projects in priority areas of science and technology. Ultimately, 41 applications out of 367 were supported. Among the winners there are three applications with St Petersburg University as one of the project contributors as part of a consortium. These are applications from: Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science ’A. V. Rzhanov Institute of Semiconductor Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ with the project titled ’Quantum structures for post-silicon electronics’ (University employee in charge is A.M. Shikin); Joint Institute for Nuclear Research with the project ’Superheavy nuclei and atoms: nuclei mass limits and the boundaries of Dmitri Mendeleev’s Periodic Table’(University employee in charge is V. M. Shabaev); and Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science ’Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ with the project ’Theoretical and experimental research into the formation and evolution of extrasolar planetary systems and characteristics of exoplanets’(University employee in charge is R. V. Baluev). The maximum value of each grant will be 300 million roubles for the whole duration of the project (for all members of the consortium). The grants will be funded up to 2023.


Application registration number

Name of the legal entity participating in the competition

Project subject

Final assessment of the application, points

University employee in charge

Item 1. No 2020-1902-01 ’Conducting major scientific projects in the priority areas of science and technology’



Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science ’A. V. Rzhanov Institute of Semiconductor Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences’

Quantum structures for post-silicon electronics


A. M. Shikin



Joint Institute for Nuclear Research

Superheavy nuclei and atoms: nuclei mass limits and the boundaries of Dmitri Mendeleev’s Periodic Table


V. M. Shabaev



Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science ’Space Research Institute

of the Russian Academy of Sciences’

Theoretical and experimental research into the formation and evolution of extrasolar planetary systems and characteristics of exoplanets


R. V. Baluev



Applications participated by the University that did not win


Application registration number

Name of the legal entity participating in the competition

Project subject

Final assessment of the application, points

University employee in charge



Federal State Budgetary Scientific Institution ’All-Russian Research Institute of Agricultural Microbiology’

Plant-microbial systems in ensuring stable plant productivity: genes, signals and external factors


A. A. Nizhnikov



Federal State Budgetary Institution ’Federal Centre for Brain and Neurotechnologies’ of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency

Oxidative stress as a driver of brain pathologies: from molecular bases to therapy


R. R. Gainetdinov



Federal State Budgetary Educational Institution of Higher Education

’St Petersburg State University’

Creation of personalised functional food products aimed at achieving active human longevity and reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and nervous disorders


A. A. Frolov



Federal State Unitary Enterprise ’Scientific Research

Institute of Hygiene, Occupational Pathology and Human Ecology’ of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency

Development of new means of pharmacological protection and methods of laboratory diagnostics of acute toxic exposure to nerve agents, metabolic agents and genotoxic agents


N. V. Goncharov



Federal State

Budgetary Institution of Science ’Federal Research Centre Kola Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Fundamental mineralogical research for the benefit of the Russian mineral resources sector and creation of new nature-like technologies and materials


V. V. Gurzhiy,

S. V. Krivovichev



Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science ’Institute for Problems in Mechanical Engineering of the Russian Academy of Sciences’

Hybrid intelligence in cyber-physical systems, mechanical engineering and energy industry


A. L. Fradkov



Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science ’V. A. Trapeznikov Institute of Control Sciences

of the Russian Academy of Sciences ’

Heterogeneous modelling of socio-economic and scientific-technological development in the context of global transformations


L. A. Petrosyan



Federal State Budgetary Educational Institution of Higher Education ’Don State Technical University’

Formation of a methodology for the synthesis of new functionally graded biocompatible materials and a comprehensive study of their physical and mechanical properties for the creation of implantable sensor devices


A. Yu. Arbenin



Federal State Budgetary Institution

’National Research Centre Kurchatov Institute’

Fundamentals of neurohybrid systems development


P. E. Musienko



Federal State Budgetary Educational Institution of Higher Education ’Omsk State Pedagogical University’

Genetic and ecological aspects of the stability of invertebrates’ populations and communities


M. V. Vinarski


9. Organisation of renovation works at the University

In the near future, the amount of funding will be determined for the 2021 renovation works of the University buildings engaged in the academic process. Senior Vice-Rector Elena Chernova said that the Rector had made a decision to improve the disbursement procedures. The directors of the institutes are entrusted with the following: to determine which rooms will be renovated in the buildings where the institute’s team works; and to prioritise the renovation works within a specified amount of funds. The deans of the faculties will make proposals for such renovation works, as they did it before, and the decision is up to the Vice-Rector in the appropriate field of study.


Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

A brief report of the Rector’s Meeting dated 15 March

1. Current issues related to organisation of the teaching and learning process

Last week, the Virtual Reception received 21 enquiries from students and teachers addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods. These included 7 enquires on teaching and methodology. 11 enquiries were sent to the email of the Vice-Rector. They exclude the enquiries on the University reorganisation (see paragraph 2 below). The most urgent issues were addressed in detail. They will be published in the full report of the Rector’s Meeting.

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A brief report of the Rector’s Meeting dated 10 March 2021

The participants of the meeting observed a moment of silence in memory of the University Professor Emeritus Evgeny Veremey.

1. Current issues related to organisation of the teaching and learning process

Last week, the Virtual Reception received 45 enquiries from students and teachers addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods. Nine enquiries were sent to the e-mail of the Vice-Rector. The most urgent issues were addressed in detail. They will be published in the full report of the Rector’s Meeting.

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A brief report of the Rector’s Meeting dated 20 February 2021

1. The format of training sessions from 1 March 2021

The Rector’s meeting addressed the proposals of the heads of academic and research departments on the format of training sessions from 1 March 2021. The following decisions were made taking into account the experience of organising the teaching and learning process with the use of information and communication technologies and the need to comply with the Recommendations for the prevention of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in educational institutions of higher education, approved by the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Russian Federation on 29 July 2020.

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A brief report of the Rector’s Meeting dated 22 January 2021

1. Current issues with organising the academic process

Last week, the Virtual Reception received 35 enquiries from students and teachers including 23 enquiries on academic issues addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods. Seven enquiries were sent to the e-mail of the Vice-Rector. The most urgent issues were addressed in detail. They will be published in the full report of the Rector’s Meeting (The quality of the heating system in hall of residence No 18;St Petersburg University branch in Tashkent;Competition for funding to cover participation in student olympiads, intellectual contests, conferences and other scientific events in 2021;  Imposing disciplinary liability).

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 14 December 2020

1. St Petersburg University is a co-founder and the sole Russian representative in the Global Alliance of Massive Open Online Courses

The Global MOOC Alliance is a non-commercial partnership of higher educational institutions, online educational platforms and international non-profit organisations initiated by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technology in Education (UNESCO IITE) and Tsinghua University (PRC). Its creation was officially announced in Beijing at the global online conference ‘Learning Revolution and Higher Education Transformation’, which took place on 9-11 December 2020. St Petersburg University’s participation in the founding of the Global MOOC Alliance is a great honour and gives us worldwide recognition in the field of online education.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 7 December 2020

As proposed by the Rector, the meeting began with a moment of silence in memory of Professor Igor Froyanov.

1. About a meeting with Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

On 2 December, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko met with the heads of the following organisations, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government: Moscow State University, St Petersburg University, Kurchatov Institute, the Higher School of Economics, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, and the University of Economics. St Petersburg University Rector Nikolay Kropachev and Vice-Rector for Research Sergey Mikushev participated in the meeting, during which the work of the Situation Centre of the Government of the Russian Federation and new approaches to contemporary digital management were demonstrated. Two lines of development were highlighted in the work of the Centre: teams of professionals, ad hoc groups of experts and government officials, who are engaged in dealing with particular tasks, and an approach to work predicated on the principle of co-working.

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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 30 November 2020

1. The Second International Congress of the Russian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science

On 27-29 November, the Second International Congress of the Russian Society for History and Philosophy of Science was held at St Petersburg University. The main areas of history and the philosophy of science that are presented in Russia were considered, as were new, emerging areas of research that are just beginning to develop in our country. Emphasis was placed on a discussion of issues involving the interplay between philosophical, academic and technological research and society from both contemporary and historical perspectives. These included the relationship between the goals of academic activity and significant public objectives, the place of scholarly expertise in relevant public discussions and the ability of scholarship to meet the fundamental challenges of our time. More than 400 Russian and over 50 foreign scholars (from such countries as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Germany) took part in 14 panel discussions and 9 roundtables.

It was noted at the Rector’s Meeting that St Petersburg University was more and more frequently the organiser or co-organiser of international scholarly events, and this helps to promote the University’s image.

2. The All-Russian Academic Conference — Theology in the Field of Education and Scholarship: Challenges and Solutions

On 25-26 November, the All-Russian Academic Conference — Theology in the Field of Education and Scholarship: Challenges and Solutions was held at St Petersburg University. It included three roundtables, which took place on 25 November. The conference was organised with the support of the Association of Leading Universities (ALU).

On 26 November, a plenary session was held by videoconference, and it was opened by Nikolay Kropachev, the Rector of St Petersburg University, Chairman of the ALU and a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, President of the Scientific-Education Theological Association and Rector of the Theological Institute of Postgraduate Studies of the Russian Orthodox Church, also delivered a welcoming address. The following representatives of different faiths participated in a discussion of complex theological issues: Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar; Chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of St Petersburg and the North-West Region of Russia and Mufti of the Cathedral Mosque of St Petersburg Ravil Khazrat Pancheev; Rector of the St Petersburg Theological Academy Bishop Siluan of Peterhof, Chairman of the Council on Islamic Education, and Rector of the Russian Islamic Institute Rafik Mukhametshin — along with their secular colleagues, theologians and scholars. The materials of the conference will be published in the journal Issues of Theology, which is published by St Petersburg University and the Theological Institute of Postgraduate Studies.

3. Organisation of the teaching and learning process

In the past week, the Virtual Reception has received 29 appeals from teachers and from students and their parents (of which 11 were about academic issues), and the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods has received another 22 through her email. These included questions about transfers and reinstatements, the time period and the timetable for resitting exams, the awarding of scholarships, and also about requests for certificates and duplicate documents.

There was a question in the Virtual Reception from a student who wanted to know about advance notice for the resitting of exams. Students are informed about the schedule for resitting exams two weeks before the first pass/fail or graded exam. These exams are held throughout the entire semester, especially for those students who have been given their own schedule for classwork. The student was asking why they had been notified only four days before a pass/fail German exam. It was explained at the meeting that, according to University regulations, a student must be informed about the date and time of a resitting (as part of an additional period of exams) three calendar days prior to their first pass/fail exam and one week prior to a graded exam. So, in this case, the rules had been observed.

All of the directors and deans continue to be in regular contact with the teachers and the student councils of the academic and research departments. To wit, the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, Sergei Ivanov, passed along a question that he had been asked during a meeting with the faculty’s student council about the proctoring system that is used for exams in online courses. The same question was recently raised by biology students (‘Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 2 November 2020’). It was reported at the meeting that the Director of the Centre of E-Learning Development at St Petersburg University, Vladimir Starostenko, is prepared to hold separate meetings with students from different academic programmes in order to explain everything, to answer questions and to remove all of the students’ apprehensions about what is for them a new procedure. The heads of the academic and research departments are requested to organise such meetings (as needed).

There were a number of complaints about the operation of technical equipment and software, the first one being that when working in MS Teams, there are problems with the sound and with the screen sharing function (students do not see what the teacher is demonstrating on the screen). It was explained that problems with the sound can arise from the use of cloud-based distant learning platforms, a poor Internet connection and equipment specifications (from both teachers and students, who may be connecting up from different devices and from different corners of the earth). Should problems arise, it is recommended to use the audio-conference mode, which is less demanding when it comes to the Internet connection and the features of the computers being used. The screen sharing system is standard for such platforms as MS Teams and Zoom, and problems may come about because the teacher has been poorly trained to work with the system.

Just as a reminder, an ever-expanding collection of instructions and methodological materials is being published on the St Petersburg University portal. Recordings will soon be published there of educational webinars, in which many of the University’s teachers participated.

There was another complaint about the use of MS Teams. For forty minutes, one teacher kept getting the same response from the programme: ‘An error has occurred. Try again in a few minutes.’ They were forced to set up a conference in Zoom on the spot. A number of teachers have noted that the MS Teams programme does not run on the departmental computers and does not have the capacity of home laptops and desktop computers. There are also problems with managing students’ work in seminars, and the interface is not user-friendly.

There are such problems on a number of computers in different buildings that did not use to be used to conduct classes with multimedia software and equipment and may not meet MS Teams requirements in a number of ways. In response to requests from the directors and deans, and also from the heads of departments, the equipment is being selectively upgraded, taking into account the reserves of equipment on hand and what can be assembled from different places. In addition, comprehensive upgrading and re-equipping are being carried out: 75 PCs have been purchased to refresh the computer fleet (on average, 3 computers per faculty) and 120 laptops for the academic staff (on average, 5 laptops for each faculty). Consideration is being given to meting out an additional 260 laptops for this purpose (11 per institute or faculty).

A third complaint had to do with the choice of platforms: despite the 40-minute time limit for free accounts, some teachers feel that Zoom is more convenient than MS Teams. It was explained that the MS Teams and Zoom programmes serve different purposes. MS Teams is integrated into the St Petersburg University corporate environment (with user accounts, user groups, which are formed according to the year of study, and course teams), with the possibility of automatic recording and storage of meetings, file allocation, etc. Zoom is a platform for audio-visual meetings, which is easier to use because it does not offer the possibility of creating student groups. It also does not provide automatic storage of recordings (once finished, they have to be manually transferred to special resources).

In a fourth complaint, students reported that in a St Petersburg University hall of residence in the Nevsky District (at 27/1 Solidarnosti Prospect) access to the Internet is often cut off. The students asked for measures to be taken. In response, it was explained to them that, according to the monitoring system, the port load at this particular hall of residence was 20 percent. The last transmission interruption at this hall of residence was on 25 September at 15.21 and it lasted for 28 minutes (during a power outage).

The main problems and complaints of Internet users are related to the functioning of personal equipment. A considerable number of students use their own Wi-Fi routers, to which users are connected that are not registered with the IT Division. As a result, personal equipment may malfunction and load speed may decrease. An analysis of students’ appeals to the Virtual Reception shows that, as a rule, it is students that are not registered as subscribers who complain about a poor Internet connection and, as it turns out, those who have paid for the Internet have no complaints at all.

And there was a fifth complaint: ‘Unfortunately, there were also some rather unfruitful contacts with the IT Division.’ The head of a department reported that in one session with MS Teams, it turned out that he was not able to enter a programme, which ‘gave’ him the following explanation: ‘You have not been granted access either because your organisation has not set up an account or your password is invalid.’ He tried to deal with it on his own, but to no avail, so he tried to call, using the specified phone number, but couldn’t get through. In the end, he wrote to the support service.

As it turned out, he himself had changed the password on 28-29 September (there is an entry in the logs of the authorisation system). It should be noted that login passwords for all systems (one single account is used) are the same. Having recalled the right password, he was able to get into MS Teams. His appeal had been recorded by the technical support helpline (the written request had not been recorded). The technical support desk, however, has no information about user passwords and is unable (without proof of a user’s identity) to quickly and remotely reset a password. Since the problem had been resolved by the user himself and there had been no further appeals, the request for a new password was dropped because the deadline had already passed. In response to the request, a face-to-face meeting was held with him, for the purpose of consultation and for adjustment of the equipment. A decision was made to update the computer, which was in one of the classrooms of the Mendeleev Centre, so that the staff in this department could work more effectively in MS Teams.

4. Misconduct and disciplinary action

Information about violations of internal labour regulations comes from different sources, both from an analysis of the records of visits by officials, deans and directors with representatives of student councils and trade unions and from appeals received through the Virtual Reception, by e-mail, or by other means.

For example, on 12 November, a first-year student appealed to the Senior ViceRector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods in reference to several instances when classes taught by Valentin Starikov, an assistant lecturer in the Department of the Theory and History of Sociology, got late starts (later than they were supposed to according to the timetable). These facts were confirmed by an investigation. In an explanatory letter, the teacher admitted to these late starts, attributing them to ‘technical constraints and problems with Internet (online) access’, and committed himself to conducting additional classes (seminars) in the course, The History of Sociology, at dates and times agreed to by the students. When considering disciplinary action against an employee of the University, the following factors are weighed: the presence or absence of malicious intent, the degree of guilt, the proportionality of the punishment to the gravity of the offence, the circumstances in which it was committed and the person’s work ethic. Taking into account that there had been no previous complaints about Assistant Lecturer Starikov’s observance of the labour regulations, and that he enjoyed a generally favourable reputation, the decision was made to limit his punishment to a warning that henceforth such offenses would be impermissible.

It was pointed out at the meeting that over the past three months, 27 violations have been reported, for each of which an investigation has been conducted and disciplinary measures have been taken (as a comparison, during the same period in 2019, there were 12 violations). This year, the most frequent infraction was nonobservance of the mask requirement (ten reprimands), followed by smoking in undesignated areas (three associate professors in the Faculty of Philology — Olga Blinova, Anastasiia Ryko and Suren Takhtadzian), and also disorderly conduct and security violations. To be more precise, research engineer Boichenko gave her pass to another person so that they could enter the University, IT Division engineer Siukalov broke the rules by taking equipment out of a University building, and Professor Sergei Maksimov of the Institute of Earth Sciences, while driving into the courtyard of 33 10th Line, completely demolished one wing of the gate and, in so doing, caused damage to the University.

5. The Personal Digital Certificates Project becomes a reality

In 2018, as part of the National Technological Initiative of Russia, the Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre was established at St Petersburg University (‘Results of the Meeting of the Academic Council of St Petersburg University dated 24 June 2019’). The Centre is engaged in research and applied engineering design, and also in teaching and learning. Accordingly, in two years, six non-degree programmes, five online courses and three master’s programmes (in Physics and Mathematics, Economics and Political Science) have been created.

Recently, the latest in a series of events was held on the Autonomous Nonprofit Organisation platform, the University of National Technology Initiative 2035. The information posted there about the St Petersburg University academic programmes, designed by expert teachers at the Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre, was sought after. The government pays for the instruction given in these courses in the form of personal digital certificates, the purpose being to create competencies in the digital economy among Russians. Seventeen students received such certificates, and ten of them went through the training. In this way, St Petersburg University became a participant in the Personal Digital Certificates Project (which is part of another project: Personnel for the Digital Economy). These opportunities will expand.

6. St Petersburg University students are among the winners of the Samsung IT Academy Inter-University Student Project Contest 2020

Two years ago, St Petersburg University signed an agreement of strategic partnership with Samsung Electronics. The two parties subsequently signed another agreement to launch the Samsung IT Academy project at the University (‘The Rector of St Petersburg University and the President of Samsung Headquarters have signed a cooperation agreement’). Our students have since become participants in Samsung projects.

Recently, the work of St Petersburg University students from three academic programmes in applied mathematics, ‘A System for the Monitoring of Crowding Levels in Suburban Trains’, reached the finals of the Samsung IT Academy InterUniversity Student Project Contest 2020 and was one of the top three projects in the Internet of Things section. The finals were held on 11 November, 2020, and the St Petersburg University team (Aleksandra Gavrilova, Nikita Antonov and Aleksandr Timofeev) took second place. There is a system that monitors for vacant seats that is already operational in London’s suburban trains, and such a system is soon to be set up for the first time in our country. It will have a convenient interface based on a mobile communications system.

7. St Petersburg University’s agreement with the VTB Bank

A charitable donation agreement has been concluded between St Petersburg University and the VTB Bank. Construction works will be carried out to install a fence on the University’s Mikhailovskaya Dacha campus along SanktPetersburgskoe Shosse and also to improve travel on the road. The grounds (including nine halls of residence and academic buildings) will be re-landscaped so that by the beginning of the next academic year we will have a well-protected campus. The meeting noted the role that Olga Dergunova, Director of the St Petersburg University Graduate School of Management, had played in concluding the contract with the VTB Bank.

8. University experts participate in formulating a conception for the scientific and technological development of St Petersburg

During the course of the year 2020, leading experts from St Petersburg University were invited to take part in efforts to come up with a draft Conception for the Scientific and Technological Development of St Petersburg up until 2030 (CSTD), which is under the direction of Vice-Governor of St Petersburg Vladimir Kniaginin. Among them are Professor Sergei Tunik, Dean of the Faculty of Biology Academician Igor Tikhonovich, and Director of the Institute of Pedagogy Elena Kazakova. In their reports, it is noted that a great deal was done in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Research and Innovation Infrastructure working groups to come up with proposals for sections of the future CSTD. Even so, almost none of the proposals were included in the final version.

On 26 November, at a meeting of the Governor of St Petersburg’s Science and Technology Council, the draft Conception for the Scientific and Technological Development of St Petersburg up until 2030 was presented. All the members of the Council, who had been included in the list of speakers, endorsed the proposed version. After that, first Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and then Vladimir Litvinenko, Rector of the Saint Petersburg Mining University, took the floor. Mr Kropachev drew the attention of the Governor and the members of the Council to several important areas of scientific and technological development in St Petersburg, as they are described in the current version of the CSTD. He pointed out that although the authors of the conception believe that these will be the driving force behind the further development of the city and deserve support, they do not take into account the substantial contributions of the team from St Petersburg University. He cited, as an example, that when it comes to research and development in the social sciences and the humanities, mention should be made of the role played by the St Petersburg University institutes in these fields, as they have traditionally been a key source in our region for the grooming of brainpower — for the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences as well — and the generation of research in this field. He also drew attention to the valuable contributions of the social sciences and the humanities to the city’s development and to the necessity of involving the socio-humanities divisions of St Petersburg University in the CSTD project as among the pivotal organisational structures that would form its backbone.

In a similar vein, for the life sciences, he noted the role of the St Petersburg University Institute of Translational Biomedicine, whose director, Raul Gainetdinov, is one of the most highly cited researchers in the world. The Rector proposed that the Institute, one of the leaders in its field, should be a key player in the CSTD project, as, along with the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies, it would have a profound effect on scientific and technological achievements in the region, elevating them to a global level. The Rector of the Mining University said that he supported Mr Kropachev’s proposals and noted other shortcomings in the conception.

The chairman of the Council, Governor of St Petersburg Alexander Beglov, requested that the criticism be taken into account. He pointed out that there is a similar conception of scientific and technological development being prepared in the Leningrad Region. A working group, representing the governments of the two regions, will attempt to revise and harmonise the two documents, taking into account that they are one big megalopolis, and with due consideration to the recommendations made by St Petersburg University.

It was noted at the Rector’s Meeting that, while preparing the conception for the scientific and technological development of St Petersburg, the University experts and the members of the working groups had not reacted promptly enough to the results of the group discussions. And it was stressed that when they serve on such committees, St Petersburg University experts should not only champion their own positions on the issues under discussion but also defend the interests of the University.

9. Publication of information about teachers on the St Petersburg University portal

A question came in to the Virtual Reception from a person who is not employed by the University concerning the publication of information on the St Petersburg University portal about teachers at the Faddeev Academic Gymnasium, which provides a comprehensive secondary education. He did not find information about some teachers (their level of education, qualifications and work experience), but found, he said, information about teachers who apparently are no longer employed there. It was reported at the meeting that Rosobrnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science) had approved the requirements for the layout of the official website of this educational organisation and the format in which it presented information. These requirements will take effect on 1 January 2021. On the St Petersburg University portal, full information about teachers will be made known to the public in accordance with the requirements. The volume of information on the University portal is constantly growing, and the University requirements exceed those of Rosobrnadzor (for example, information about a teacher’s publication activity and their participation in obtaining grants is included). At the moment, there is no uniform standard, so this information is posted in different ways on the pages of the academic and research departments of the University, and monitoring of how it is posted and updated is carried out manually by the staff of the institutes and the faculties.

It was also noted that the list of full-time teachers at the University who have classes with the schoolchildren at the Academic Gymnasium, especially after the temporary move to Peterhof, has undergone some changes. In any case, the missing information was gathered, and the page on the site of the Academic Gymnasium was brought in line with the requirements of Rosobrnadzor, which was reported to the person who had appealed to the Virtual Reception.

10. Reporting on holding positions in the national or local civil service

When the University concludes a labour contract, or an independent contractor agreement, with an individual who holds or has held during the past two years a position in the national or local civil service that is included on a list of positions established by statutes and regulations of the Russian Federation, that individual is obliged to inform the personnel department. The staff of the personnel department, in turn, are obliged to request and obtain permission to document this individual’s relationship with the University according to the place of their national or local civil service, as provided for in article 12, paragraphs 2 and 4, of the Federal Act of 25 December 2008, 273-FZ, On Counteracting Corruption, and parts 2 and 3 of article 64.1 of the Labour Code of the Russian Federation.

To ensure that the University and the individual in question comply with this requirement, in the text of labour contracts and independent contractor agreements with natural persons for the performance of work or the rendering of services, a clause is included prescribing the filling in of the relevant document, in which the candidate notes whether they have or have not held a position in the national or local civil service over the past two years.

11. Competition for the 2021 awards of the Government of the Russian Federation in the field of education

The Inter-Departmental Council for the Government of the Russian Federation awards in education has announced a competition for the 2021 awards. Works that are compliant with the list of requirements are being accepted in person from the authors, or from their proxies, at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, and are also being posted by the authors on the Правпремии.рф website until 10 February 2021. Students are asked to send their works to the address of Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. It is important to note that, in order to meet all procedural requirements, the deadline for applications is 18 December 2020. The announcement of the competition — along with the list, examples and requirements — is available on the site. Works that breach the requirements of the competition will not be accepted. Information about the possibility of applying for the competition will be sent to the students’ email addresses.

12. The first batch of University badges

After a discussion about the issuance of the University breast badges (Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 5 October 2020), the directors of the institutes and the deans of the faculties were asked to give their opinions. In the end, a decision was taken to issue a first, trial batch of badges, after which a marketing study will be conducted to determine which of them catch the fancy of alumni and members of the University community.

Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 23 November 2020

1. Events held in the memory of Lyudmila Verbitskaya

St Petersburg University held the International Philological Conference in Memory of Professor Lyudmila Verbitskaya from 26 to 24 November 2020 (St Petersburg University opened a free open access to a book Let’s talk correctly! by Lyudmila Verbitskaya). The conference brought together over 1,100 scholars and researchers. This is twice more than last year as the conference was held in a distance mode.

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Minutes of the Rector's Meeting dated 16 November 2020

1. Organisation of teaching and learning

Last week, 73 enquiries from teachers as well as students and their parents, including 31 enquiries on academic issues, were sent to the Virtual Reception. 21 enquiries were sent to the email of Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods, including 19 enquiries on academic issues. The enquiries included requests for certificates and document copies, and questions on student residence and information systems’ work.

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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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