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.

2. Three out of the seven winners of the BASIS Foundation competitions are St Petersburg University employees

The results of the all-Russian competitions of research grants launched by the BASIS Foundation for research groups and individual scientists conducting theoretical research in fundamental mathematics have been summed up. In the 'Leader' nomination, three out of the seven winners work at St Petersburg University. These are: Eric Mortenson; Nikolai Vavilov; and Vladimir Peller. All the other research organisations and universities that took part in this prestigious competition have only one winner each.

It was noted at the meeting that all three University winners had previously won open and highly competitive University competitions for teaching positions. Remarkably, Eric Mortenson and Vladimir Peller have started working in Russia quite recently. Their previous jobs were at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics, Germany, and Michigan State University, USA. These foreign scientists are invariably attracted by: the high level of bachelor's and master's students of mathematics at St Petersburg University; the opportunity to deliver advanced courses of lectures; the popularity of St Petersburg University's mathematical laboratories in the world; and the working conditions that are as good as those at European universities. The Euler International Mathematical Institute created in the consortium of St Petersburg University and the St Petersburg Department of V.A. Steklov Institute of Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (PDMI RAS) brings to a new level the University's attractiveness for international researchers specialising in mathematics and theoretical informatics.

3. Organisation of the teaching and learning process

Over the past week, the Virtual Reception accepted 56 applications from students, teachers and other persons. 21 of them were related to various teaching and learning issues including: requests for academic statements; questions about student transfer to the University; and technical questions about access to online courses at St Petersburg University (asked by non-University students).

Abdulla Daudov, Director of the Institute of History, reported that he had had difficulties in identifying certain problems before. He started organising meetings with the monitors of the first and second years and the activists of the student council, so now the Director of the Institute is promptly informed every week about the organisation of training in each academic discipline. That helps him solve urgent problems and eliminate minor faults. The student council of the Institute has appointed student volunteers who help the teachers, including four professors, who have a low proficiency in organising online classes. Last week, there was an appeal from a student's parents: their son could not get access to the lectures of Professor Igor Froyanov (they believed that the lectures were not held at all). Yet, the lectures were held exactly on schedule. The problem was solved. The volunteers helped the student: they found and provided materials of all lectures and established information exchange between the student and the teacher.

Svetlana Rubtsova, Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages, ​​recalled that the main problem of the semester was a large enrolment of first-year students, including international students, so the workload of the teachers had increased dramatically. Yet, this problem is being solved: additional payments are allocated to the teachers for additional hours of work, for overload. Another difficulty has surfaced recently: the organisation of elective classes (in a second foreign language) with a small number of students in the groups. Tatyana Frolova, Deputy Head of the Educational Programmes Department, proposed to solve the problem by combining students of different programmes into one group learning French (4 students of chemistry and 1–2–3 students of other fields of study). As a result, it became possible to create a unified group for students of several fields of study, who are now successfully learning French together. The online format made it possible to do what had been impossible in the on-campus work mode.

The participants of the meeting supported that fruitful idea. They suggested trying to unite in the same way students of various fields of study for classes in other elective disciplines.

The heads of academic subdivisions continue regular meetings with the student councils of the faculties and institutes.

4. Student practices during the autumn semester

Following the proposals from the directors and the deans, the field trips that were supposed to take place in the summer of 2020 were postponed to a later period. The following practices will take place in the summer of 2021: in astrophysics and astrometry for the students of mathematics; in archaeology and ethnography for the students of history; and all practices for students of biology. For medical students, their internships in general medicine have already taken place this semester. For non-resident students it was at their place of residence – for residents of St Petersburg at their local clinical facilities. The practices for students of geology, geography, journalism and management were organised on schedule. For some students of journalism internships are held in the autumn of 2020 alongside their on-campus training.

5. Organisation of dissertation defences at St Petersburg University

During the pandemic, the defence of candidate's and doctoral dissertations took place at the University in a new mode – in accordance with St Petersburg University Order No 2304/1 dated 23 March 2020. The dissertations were defended via remote interactive access using information and communication technologies. During that period of the pandemic, St Petersburg University was the only university in Russia that ensured the continuity of the state scientific assessment process in terms of dissertation defences. More importantly, it contributed to preserving the health of participants through the introduction of a full online mode.

A total of 38 dissertations were defended in the online mode from March to August. One month later, other universities followed our example. In May 2020, there was information in the mass media that online defences had started to be organised by Moscow State University, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) and others.

From January to September 2020, the total number of dissertations defended on St Petersburg University's own terms was 84 . About 70% of them were defended by postgraduate students and independent students of St Petersburg University. There were also external degree seekers, including those from other institutions of higher education entitled to conduct defences on their own terms: Moscow State University, St Petersburg Polytechnic University, RANEPA, St Petersburg Mining University and others.

St Petersburg University has a wide range of foreign citizens applying for academic degrees. Recently an Iranian citizen defended a dissertation in the speciality 'Radiochemistry'; while one of the next defences will be that of a Latvian citizen in the scientific speciality 'Mathematical Modelling, Numerical Methods and Software Systems'.

The need to work with postgraduate students was highlighted. It is important that they defend their dissertations on time, and understand and fulfil the University's requirements for dissertations. For this purpose, every six months, a meeting is held with postgraduate students. Such a meeting was organised in September 2019 at the big assembly hall of St Petersburg University. In March 2020, a webinar titled 'Organisation of the presentation of a dissertation for an academic degree' was held. It was attended by 93 postgraduate students of philology and their academic supervisors. Such meetings are also planned for the autumn of this year.

Consultations are held on an ongoing basis via corporate email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (the address is published on the University website). In 2020, more than 240 written responses were sent to applications received from our postgraduate students. On weekdays, a special call centre is available. The employees of the Department for the Support of Dissertation Councils are on permanent duty answering the phone (+7 (812) 363 61 14; the number is published on the University website). Since the beginning of the year, more than 210 applicants have been provided oral advice on the preparation of a dissertation for defence and on related organisational issues.

The interest to dissertation defences in the University dissertation councils is high. They are very popular. While in the system established by the Higher Assessment Committee the defence takes place in an already existing dissertation council, at St Petersburg University a separate dissertation council is formed for each defence. There is even a queue: as of the date of the meeting, about 70 people have applied for a dissertation defence.

The meeting participants discussed why defences on the University's own terms were growing in popularity. They came to the conclusion that the main reason for that was the openness of the procedure and an open assessment of each dissertation (The University's own academic degrees: the past and the present). Each defence (they are all held online) is watched, depending on the topic and the person, by up to 40 people (not the members of the dissertation council meeting) from different parts of the world. Therefore, serious scientists who are confident in the quality of their research choose to defend their dissertations at St Petersburg University.

It was noted that at the recent meeting of the Higher Attestation Commission, many ideas implemented at St Petersburg University were discussed. They were related to delegating responsibility from the University to the members of dissertation councils.

6. The work of safety audit boards at the University

In order to fulfil the requirements of the Chief State Sanitary Doctor regarding the mandatory use of personal protective equipment (face masks), 20 safety audit boards continue their work at the University (On amendments to Order No 7541/1 dated 31 August 2020 'On the need to use personal protective equipment on the territory of St Petersburg University'). The boards include student activists and representatives of the trade union organisation (Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 14 September 2020). Over the past month, the boards carried out about 500 checks. The reports of the chairpersons sent to a specially created e-mail address state that at the entrance to the University buildings strict control of observance of the face mask mandate is organised, the temperature is measured, and the requirement to wear face masks is mainly fulfilled. Students and employees respond correctly to the comments of the board members, and teachers in classroom monitor the correct use of masks by students.

At the same time, not all of the teachers are aware of their responsibility for observing the face mask mandate by their students in the classroom. They believe this is the responsibility of the administration. Some teachers either do not reprimand the offenders, or they do it only when members of the board show up in the classroom with a check. Others even accuse the members of the boards of violating the University's Code of Conduct and ask at the Virtual Reception to punish the members of the board for unfair practices (such as Konstantin Lavrov, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics).

Upon the recommendation of the chairpersons of the boards, for violation of the face mask mandate, as well as for non-compliance with the security measures, disciplinary measures are applied, regardless of the position held by the offender. Konstantin Krotov, Head of the Graduate School of Management, was reprimanded. Alexey Shirkin, Deputy Head of the Department for Technical Support of Educational Programmes, was also punished.

The participants of the meeting spoke of the need to manifest personal responsibility and commitment. They stated that non-observance of security measures posed a threat not only to the health of University students and staff, but also to the health of their relatives and friends.

7. Students' appeal related to the teacher's actions

Students reported that the posts of one of their teacher's in social media contained insults on account of other people's ethnic descent and confession, pictures with banned Nazi symbols, and racist statements. All publications have become available to an unlimited audience. This information formed the basis for a statement sent by Deputy Rector for Security Elena Sharygina to law enforcement authorities, as well as an appeal to the University Ethics Committee.

8. On University badges

Since 2019, the University Marketing Department and the University Publishing House have been working on a line of the University's own souvenir products. The first products have recently been finished. They contain the symbols of the Vladimir Nabokov Museum, Dmitri Mendeleev Museum and the University Botanical Garden. Stationery, bags, thermo mugs and other goods can be bought at the stores of the University Publishing House. Moreover, the creation of a specialised online souvenir shop is almost finished.

The issue of expanding the product line is being discussed, in particular, the release of the first batch of University badges. The stylistics of the new badge reflects its evolution: from the 1899 lapel pins issued to graduates of the Imperial St Petersburg University (diamond shape, white enamel edging) to the USSR academic breastplates issued since 1945 (blue enamel, gilded edging). The University coat of arms is organically included in this symbolic row.

During the meeting, Senior Vice-Rector Elena Chernova demonstrated two versions of the badges made of different materials and having different types of fastening.

The option of reviving the lapel pins issued to the graduates of the Imperial St Petersburg University was also discussed.

Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 12 April 2021

  1. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  2. Round-table discussion ’Problems of formation and fixation of student electronic portfolio of individual achievements’
  3. The procedure for the entry of international students into the Russian Federation for study purposes has been established
  4. Competition for the position of Deputy Head of the Auditing Department
  5. Merging of the University’s Palaeontology Museum and Palaeontological and Stratigraphic Museum
  6. Separate waste collection at the University
  7. ’Vestnik of St Petersburg University. Law’ registered with the Scopus Science Metrix database
  8. Damage done by students to the University property
  9. Dissemination of information on the activities of the University scientists in the media
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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 11 May 2021

  1. Aleksandr Zagoskin, Associate Professor at St Petersburg University, is the winner of the Nika Film Award
  2. Meeting of the St Petersburg University Board of Trustees
  3. Cooperation Agreement between St Petersburg University and Sberbank
  4. St Petersburg University Strategic Plan until 2030 Approved
  5. Current issues related to the organisation of the teaching and learning process
  6. St Petersburg University online school
  7. Personnel competition to accompany a world-class international centre
  8. Accessibility of the St Petersburg University portal for people with special health needs
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Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 22 March 2021

  1. Current issues of organising the teaching and learning process
  2. Format of the teaching and learning process from1 April 2021
  3. List of the planned indicators of the internal assessment of the academic programmes
  4. Organising work with the online courses
  5. Applying for scholarships
  6. Strategy for the digital transformation of the University: drafting the event programme
  7. New duties of the University Academic Board
  8. Classroom-based studies delivered by academic staff who are 65 or older
  9. Enquiries submitted to be discussed by the working group formed in relation to the reorganisation of the University
  10. Vaccination of international citizens
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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.

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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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