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.
2. Enquiries received by the working group organised with the goal to communicate with the students, employees and third persons in relation to the University reorganisation
On 10 March, a working group from the University academic staff was organised with the goal to communicate with the students, employees and third persons in relation to the University reorganisation by means of establishing the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a separate legal entity (the University of Liberal Arts and Sciences) outside the research and education complex of St Petersburg University (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 10 March 2021). The group leader Professor Ivan Uralov informed that during that time period about 60 questions were received with about 30 questions from the students and their parents and about 20–30 questions from the teachers and other employees of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The questions were analysed and answered in detail at the Rector’s Meeting. Some examples are presented below.
Enquiry 1: ‘Hello, I’m a student of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I have seen a lot of information about the fact that the students are given the choice to stay at St Petersburg University or transfer to the new university created on the bases of our Faculty. However, before taking such a decision it is important to understand the following: if I stay at St Petersburg University, what will be the rest of my education like? I mean, will I become a part of one of the Faculties or will we continue to study following the liberal arts model?’
Answer: The rest of your education will correspond to the academic programme that you entered: bachelor’s programme ‘Liberal Arts and Sciences’ and the relevant master’s programmes. The teaching will be performed according to the curriculum that was used during the years of study at St Petersburg University. The University will assign the head of the academic programme, student council of the programme, etc.
Question 2: ‘Hello, at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences we were often told about a unique endowment foundation that also funded the education of some talented students. Will this scholarship remain valid for those students who will not transfer to the new university? And where shall the endowment foundation itself remain?’
Answer: The special-purpose capital of the University endowment foundation ‘Arts and Humanities’ shall stay with St Petersburg University and shall be used to support students and teachers, research and academic mobility in the field of ‘Arts and Humanities’. The scholarships from this endowment foundation for those, who continue to study at the University, shall remain unchanged.
Questions 3: ‘Dear colleagues, I teach at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and I incline to stay at St Petersburg University after the separation of the faculty. What is the order of my actions? What should I do in this case? I would also like to understand if the new university shall keep the advantages, academic rights and freedoms that St Petersburg University has? In particular, shall the new university keep its own academic standard?
Answer: You should inform the human resources office of the University in free format about your decision to stay. As for the advantages of the new university, this question should be addressed to the management of the University of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The leading universities — St Petersburg University and Moscow State University — have the right to their own academic standard in the Russian Federation. The right to have their own academic standards, diplomas, etc. is provided by the Federal Law No 259-FZ ‘On Lomonosov Moscow State University and St Petersburg University’ dated 10 November 2009.
3. Considering the opinion of students about the quality of education
During the meeting of Irina Balova, the Director of the Institute of Chemistry, with the Student Council of the Institute of Chemistry, the students suggested that Irina Balova should use the results of the student survey on the education quality in the Institute of Chemistry when evaluating the work of teachers. Irina Balova noted that she was not going to use the results of students’ survey in awarding bonuses to the teachers. St Petersburg University administration regularly performs student surveys on the quality of education. The survey results are taken into account by the directors, deans and other heads in their work. Irina Balova asked the students to participate more actively in those surveys.
4. Integration of the Distributed Ledger Technology in the ‘Digital Portfolio’ software complex
The University has started implementing the works on integrating the Distributed Ledger Technology into the University software complex ‘Digital Portfolio’. Pilot testing at the University is planned to be performed by 1 September 2021. After the integration of the Distributed Ledger Technology into the University software complex ‘Digital Portfolio’, the data from the ‘Digital Portfolio’ shall be used exclusively with the permission and under the personal control of the owners of the posted information. Only such owners will have secret keys. The two-key system will increase credibility of the ‘Digital Portfolio and safety of storing the information.
5. The results of the University participation in competitions for the provision of expert and analytical services
The work of the University Centre of Expert Advice in 2020 was analysed. The University has a possibility to perform expert activity within the framework of all the represented research fields. In 2020, research in the interests of external customers including state orders and commercial contracts was performed in 26 fields. The relevant presentation and more detail information will be published in the full report of the Rector’s Meeting.
6. Grant activity of the academic staff
The task of attracting external funding by the academic staff to conduct research remains a priority. Relevant obligations are provided for by labour contracts with the academic staff. Qualification requirements on attracting external funding are included into the terms and conditions during the competition for the position. An analysis of grant activity of the personnel of the University academic subdivisions in 2020 was performed during the meeting.
7. The work of the human resources committee
The first qualification committees on human resources at Russian universities appeared in 2015 at St Petersburg University. The participants of the meeting analysed the activity of qualification committees on human resources of the academic subdivisions including institutes, faculties and academic programmes in 2020.
8. Analysis of the enquiries from international students regarding the condition of the halls of residence
Based on the results of surveys from international students, the meeting participants traditionally analysed the enquiries of international students regarding the condition of the halls of residence and the measures on preventing the spread of COVID-19. The required explanations and answers were provided.
A full report of the Rector’s meeting will be published shortly.