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.
On 23 November, Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev awarded the first diplomas to the winners of the new scholarship programme. The scholarship programme named after Lyudmila Verbitskaya was opened this year. It offers opportunities for students and postgraduate students in any field of study who excel in studying the wide-ranging science of the Russian language (The scholarship programme named after Lyudmila Verbitskaya). Preparation and publication has taken place of the first volume of the series that focuses on collecting memories about Lyudmila Verbitskaya compiled by Professor Daudov. On 23 November, there was a presentation of the book in the Twelve Collegia building and also the opening of the photo exhibition and book exhibition to commemorate the memory of Lyudmila Verbitskaya (St Petersburg University opened a photo exhibition to commemorate the memory of Lyudmila Verbitskaya).
The second volume of the series about Lyudmila Verbitskaya is expected to collect the memories of her colleagues and students about life at the University.
2. Three researchers at St Petersburg University are among the Highly Cited Researchers worldwide
The Web of Science (WoS) Highly Cited Researchers 2020 lists three researchers at the University. This is the best result among Russian universities.
The list of WoS includes 0.1% of the highly cited researchers in a wide range of fields of study. This year, it includes 6,167 researchers across the globe. Among them are 2,650 researchers from the USA (41.5% out of the total number), 770 researchers from China (21.1%), and 514 researchers from the UK (8%). The list includes only six researchers from Russia who indicated their affiliation with the Russian institutions. Three of them are affiliated with St Petersburg University.
- Among them are Raul Gainetdinov, who serves as the Director of the Institute of the Translational Biomedicine at St Petersburg University, Academic Supervisor of the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies of St Petersburg University (the Web of Science includes 345 publications, with 14 of them being indexed as the highly cited publications in pharmacology and toxicology from 2009 to 2019)
- NIkolay Kuznetsov, who serves as the Head of the Department of Applied Cybernetics at St Petersburg University (the Web of Science includes 189 publications, with 12 of them being the highly cited publications in interdisciplinary research)
- Gennady Leonov (died in 2018), who served as the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics at St Petersburg University and founded the Department of Applied Cybernetics (the Web of Science includes over 170 publications, with 12 of them being among the highly cited publications)
These achievements in science can boost our position in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The Academic Ranking of World Universities equals the highly cited researchers to the Fields Medal or Nobel Prize.
3. Winners of the award by the Russian Professor meeting
The Professor Forum included awarding the titles of the Rector of the Year, Dean of the Year, Professor of the Year granted by the Russia-wide public organisation ’Russian Professor Meeting’. The Forum ended on 19 November in Moscow. Three deans at St Petersburg University were awarded the title the Dean of the Year. They are: Professor Novikova, who serves as the Dean of the School of International Relations; Professor Shaboltas, who serves as the Dean of the Faculty of Psychology; and Professor Petrosyan, who serves the Dean of the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes. Four professors at St Petersburg University were awarded the title of the Professor of the Year. They are: Professor Kuznetsov at the Department of Applied Cybernetics; Professor Popondopulo at the Department of Commercial Law at St Petersburg University; Professor Smorgunov at the Department of Political Governance at St Petersburg University; and Professor Novikova at the Department of European Studies at St Petersburg University.
4. Organisation of teaching and learning
Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received 44 enquiries submitted by academic staff, students and their parents, with 17 of them relating to academic matters. 21 enquiries were submitted to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Teaching Methods via the University email service. Among the enquiries were those relating to student monthly allowances, welfare support, transfer and reinstatement, and issuing certificates and other documents.
Some enquiries were related to the changes in the timetable and mode of study in various fields of study. Detailed answers to all these enquiries are provided through the Virtual Reception. During the past week, proposals have been submitted by the heads of the academic staff. From 23 November to the end of the semester, all classes are to be delivered in distance mode by using educational e-technologies, except for medicine. The interim assessment is to be delivered in distance mode, as suggested by the heads of the academic and research departments.
In response to the enquires submitted to the Virtual Reception relating to the timetable of interim assessment, it was noted that all fail/pass tests and exams are to be held during the period from the end of December to the end of January, as stipulated by the academic calendars. The timetable is to be approved at least two weeks before the first exam is scheduled. The timetable is still in the process. The exams and fail/pass tests during the interim assessment are to be held by using the information and communication technologies. All information relating to which technologies shall be used during each exam or fail/pass test will be available in the student personal accounts.
As in spring, (Applying for an academic leave or individual learning schedule) enquiries have been submitted by international and Russian students relating to how to apply for academic leave or an individual learning schedule to have fail/pass tests or exams. A student in chemistry left for home in Irkutsk and was planning to return to St Petersburg to have a laboratory trial. Yet having been in contact with a COVID-19 positively tested person he had to self-isolate and consequently postpone his return to St Petersburg to a more convenient moment. The student telephoned the academic office to enquire about whether he could gain support from the University to have access to the laboratory situated at the University’s university-partner at Irkutsk (Laboratory trials during self-isolation). The way how the enquiries relating to applying for academic leave or an individual learning schedule for Russian and international students who reside in other regions or countries during the pandemic are approached remains the same as in spring and summer.
There is an increase in the number of students attending the classes delivered by using information and telecommunication technologies. Although many students are residing in other regions and time zones, they have become more actively engaged in working in a distance mode.
In autumn, there was a reduction in the number of international students who were expelled from the University by 0.2% compared with 2019. Yet the number of the Russian students who were expelled from the University increased by 0.1% compared with 2019.
5. Interim assessment for first-year students
The first-year students will have an interim assessment in December and January. The interim assessment will be delivered by using information and telecommunication technologies. This week, there will be a meeting with the leaders of the first-year students to inform other students about how the interim assessment is organised, what difficulties they might face, what they should pay attention to, and what to do if problems arise.
The directors and deans are instructed to discuss these issues with the student councils and suggest their proposals as to how to organise the interim assessment, provide support to first-years students, and communicate efficiently if problems arise.
6. Communication between academic staff and students
Being able to communicate with lecturers during and after classes is essential for students. At the University, it is a common practice to have consultations with the lecturers every week. Students can ask routine questions, discuss their term papers, graduation papers, and projects, and get support on various issues, while for lecturers these consultations are the way to get feedback. Yet few students know about these consultations. The deans and directors were instructed to control how these consultations are delivered by using information and telecommunication technologies on a weekly basis and to discuss it with the student councils.
7. Informing administration about leaving
As classes are delivered in a distance mode by using information and telecommunication technologies, students can study without having to leave home. If a student leaves St Petersburg and vacates their place in the hall of residence, they must inform the administration about where they will be staying and provide contact information in case problems arise. A special form to fill in can be found in the personal account of students. Once the form is submitted, the information will be available to all offices that work with students. Among them are Settlement Department of the University Campus, Academic Affairs Department, and Department for Youth Affairs.
During the past week, the Rector instructed Vice-Rectors and Deputy Rectors to issue the orders or introduce amendments into the current documentation that would be similar to those adopted in relation to how to organise the various processes in the spring semester. The deadline is 24 November 2020. These orders allowed academic staff and students to avoid personal contacts with the administrative staff and not to submit the originals of the documents to resolve issues relating to administrative and training processes. Among them are: applying for welfare support by students and academic staff; applying to receive certificates and copies of documents; and not paying for living in the halls of residence by students who left the halls of the residence for the period of delivering training by using information and telecommunication technologies (In case of emergency). Over half a year ago, Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs Yury Penov issued Order No 2452/1 dated 26 March 2020 ’On following the rules and legal interests of academic staff, administrative staff, and students at St Petersburg University in organising records and accounting’. The order aimed at helping staff and students at St Petersburg University adhere to their rules and legal interests in case of emergency. For this reason, the University eased the procedure about how to keep the records and ensure accounting under the new conditions. To prevent the spread of the COVID-19, this order was amended and its duration was extended to 31 December 2020.
8. Ensuring psychological support to students
Over ten years ago, the University started to provide its services relating to ensuring psychological support to students (The Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 19 November 2012 and dated 30 January 2012). Students can get psychological support free of charge. It is provided by high-calibre academic staff and senior students in psychology (The Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 19 October 2020).
The Rector also instructed to open an office to provide psychological support in Peterhof. The Campus will have two members of the Psychological Clinic services and practitioners who will offer psychological support in case of emergency and answer questions from students. The Peterhof Campus is also expected to hold various events that aim at preventing risky behaviour that may cause harm to health and to adapting first-year students to living at the University by engaging first-year students to take part in them. This year, the members of the Department for Youth Affairs have attended the programme of advanced training provided by the Faculty of Psychology to be trained in how to provide support in case of emergency.
9. Results and outcomes of meeting between the Dean and students in Political Science
All directors and deans are continuing to regularly collaborate with academic staff and student councils. Most of directors and deans report weekly about what difficulties they faced during the week in relation to organising the training process and provide information they obtain from student councils during the meetings. Analysing this information can reveal problems to promptly respond to.
Recently, the Dean of the Faculty of Political Science Professor Kurochkin had a meeting with the students and discovered two cases of not following the timetable by the members of the academic staff, including Professor Zavershinsky and Professor Pavroz. Professor Zavershinsky failed to deliver a seminar on 3 November 2020. The investigation showed that Professor Zavershinsky did fail to deliver the seminar, and his postgraduate student did it for him. It is a case of violating the rules and regulations as postgraduate students are allowed to deliver classes only in presence of the members of academic staff (within the framework of pursuing teaching practice).
Professor Pavroz delivered a class by using information and telecommunication technologies without informing administrative staff and students. In his statement of explanation, he wrote that he had not been informed about the changes that had been introduced into the timetable. The timetable is a document that must be regularly checked for amendments and changes by academic staff and students.
There are discussions relating to imposing disciplinary measures to the professors.
10. Preparing students on military reserve
The Virtual Reception receives enquiries from students relating to how the classes for students on military reserve should be delivered. The training shall be delivered in accordance with the regulations and legal acts approved by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. All requirements as to how to implement programmes in the military that are approved by the military administration are stipulated by those who order training in accordance with the programmes. The consultations with the military administration resulted in adopting a decision relating to organising training by using information and telecommunication technologies since 1 December 2020 to the end of the semester.
11. Welfare support to students
St Petersburg University can provide welfare support to students to compensate for the expenses relating to purchasing tickets to their home from St Petersburg during the pandemic. To receive welfare support students shall submit an application form via Personal accounts by attaching the copies or photos of relevant documents that prove purchasing the tickets and making a trip (Providing welfare support). Last semester, over 1,400 students applied for welfare support. All applications were satisfied.
The University provides welfare support to students without forcing them to leave their halls of residence. Choosing where to continue studying is up to every student to decide.