1. A session of Petersburger Dialogue Coordinating Committees
  2. St Petersburg University Strategic Plan indicators
  3. Monument to COVID-19 victims
  4. The Office of RF Prosecutor General and Bard College (USA)
  5. Restructuring the St Petersburg University Research Support Service
  6. Organisation of theses defences
  7. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
   

Meeting participants observed a minute of silence in memory of Honorary Professor Rudolf Yanson.

1. A session of Petersburger Dialogue Coordinating Committees

On 15 May, the Russian and German Coordinating Committees of the German—Russian Forum Petersburger Dialogue met in Berlin. It was attended by: Nikolay Kropachev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Coordinating Committee, Rector of St Petersburg University; Anna Vasilyeva, Executive Secretary of the Committee, Director of the Directorate of Petersburger Dialogue Forum (Digitalisation, international cooperation and a road map for civil societies: the issues discussed by the ‘Petersburger Dialogue’ experts in 2020; and Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs.

During the discussions, the German side raised the issue of some European NGOs being declared foreign agents in the Russian Federation. According to the German side, this would hamper or even completely paralyse the work of the forum, as board members of Petersburger Dialogue from the German side are on the governing bodies of such organisations. Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Forum Coordinating Committee on the Russian side, stressed that a foreign agent is not an enemy, but a legal status that defines the rights and obligations of an organisation. This practice exists in many countries, including the USA.

Nikolay Kropachev, Russian Deputy Chairman of the Forum Coordinating Committee, reminded his German colleagues that Germany also has a list of Russian participants of Petersburger Dialogue who are under sanctions and cannot take part in the Forum events. In 2019, for example, the German side practically sabotaged the forum of Russian and German rectors in Kazan, because among the participants in the Russian delegation was a representative who was recognised in Germany as an undesirable person. Only one German rector came to Kazan. He publicly apologised for his colleagues. Besides, several rectors sent written apologies and explained their absence from the event in Kazan by the imperative recommendations of the German state authorities. The next meeting of Russian and German rectors is due to take place online in September. Regrettably, one of the Russian rectors will not be able to attend. Another example: during this year’s update of the Russian participants of Petersburger Dialogue, our colleague, who is under sanctions, was excluded.

The two sides then moved on to constructive discussions on cooperation in health, education, science, economy, and other areas.

2. St Petersburg University Strategic Plan indicators

St Petersburg University Strategic Plan to 2030, approved by a decree of the Russian Government, provides for 33 activities within the framework of six global objectives correlated with the national development goals of the Russian Federation established by Presidential Decree No 474 of 21 July 2020, the provisions of the National Project ’Science and Universities’, and the State Programme ’Scientific and Technological Development of the Russian Federation’, as well as a number of other federal strategic development documents (Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting dated 11 May 2021).

Implementation of the mentioned objectives will be assessed by 23 independent targets (indicators) affecting specific core activities of St Petersburg University: eight education sector indicators, six human resources sector indicators, five research sector indicators (excluding one attachment — 14.1), three financial indicators, and one infrastructural indicator. Some indicators are similar to the national ones that are widely used nowadays by the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia (including in competitive procedures with universities), but most have been developed specifically for St Petersburg University in order to provide the most reliable assessment of its actual achievements. The system of indicators is based on the principles of substantive integrity, transparency, and validity, providing for internal cross-compliance of indicators and eliminating the possibility of manipulation of reports to artificially inflate values, which has often been the practice of other organisations. Not least because of the methodological strengths of the indicator system, success has been achieved in the adoption of St Petersburg University Strategic Plan.

The following indicators can be considered key, since their implementation depends on the concerted action of the entire University workforce.

  • Indicator No 5 ’Share of academic staff involved in the implementation of academic programmes of other organisations of higher education, including through online courses’ shall not be less than 6% by the end of 2021, 15% by the end of 2024, and 17% by the end of 2030. In 2020 this share was 4%
  • Indicator No 6 ’Proportion of students in the bachelor’s, specialist’s, and master’s programmes who are studying according to individual academic trajectories’ shall not be less than 20% by the end of 2021, 28% by the end of 2024, and 50% by the end of 2030. In 2020 this share was 19%
  • Indicator No 9 ’Number of degree programmes that have undergone public accreditation’ shall not be less than 15 units by the end of 2021, 20 units by the end of 2024, and 25 units by the end of 2030. In 2020 there were 15 such units
  • Indicator No 12 ’Share of income from non-degree programmes and vocational training in total income from the academic activities’ shall not be less than 11% by the end of 2021, and 15% by the end of 2024 and 2030. In 2020 this share was 10%
  • Indicator No 14 ’Total number of patents for inventions, utility models, industrial designs, software, and databases registered in the reporting year’ shall not be less than 691 by the end of 2021, 788 by the end of 2024, and 1,043 by the end of 2030. In 2020, the total number of intellectual property patents and certificates received by St Petersburg University was 640
  • Indicator No 18 ’Increase in the proportion of doctoral students who have submitted a thesis for defence to obtain a candidate of science degree while enrolled in aspirantura programmes, compared with the indicator for 2018′ shall be not less than 20% for 2021, 110% for 2024, and 150% for 2030. In 2020 this share was 7%
  • Indicator No 21 ’Ratio of extrabudgetary funds to budgetary allocations in internal R&D expenditure’ shall be 0.20 by the end of 2021; 0.36 by the end of 2024, and 1.24 by the end of 2030. In 2020 this ratio was 0.10

In addition to the above, the system of indicators includes elements describing the performance of specific St Petersburg University officials, especially Vice Rectors and heads of specific departments. The information on the indicators for which the target values are directly associated with the officials has been communicated to the latter at the inception meetings. The delimitation of the officials’ areas of competence was also documented in the expanded configuration of the Implementation Plan of the St Petersburg University Strategic Plan for 2021–2030 (Annex No1 to Order No 1069 — dated 26 April 2021).

In general, it should be borne in mind that the target subsidy of 1.3 billion roubles per year for the University’s Strategic Plan depends directly on the achievement of the set targets. In case of a downward variation, penalties may be calculated based on the algorithm of costsharing write-offs for activities (the funding of which is outlined in Annex 2 to Order No 1069-r dated 26 April 2021), which will result in significant financial losses, ranging from 13 million roubles (1% of the total annual budget allocation) to 650 million roubles (the equivalent of the amount of annual extrabudgetary co-financing of the programme). In view of the above, a draft Rector’s order is currently being prepared to streamline the internal cooperation and record the responsibility of the officials. The directors and deans will submit their proposals on the organisation of work at the University to meet the indicators of the St Petersburg University Strategic Plan by 25 May 2021.

3. Monument to COVID-19 victims

It is known that in March 2021, a monument to the doctors who died in the coronavirus pandemic was unveiled in St Petersburg (RBC: A monument to the doctors who died in the pandemic was unveiled in St Petersburg).

The sculpture ’Sorrowful Angel’ by famous St Petersburg sculptor Roman Shustov, who passed away from COVID-19, has adorned the embankment of the Karpovka River near Pavlov University in St Petersburg.

In the foreseeable future, another memorial will be erected in St Petersburg in memory of all St Petersburgers who fell victim to the coronavirus infection.

In recent months, several people have suggested that the Rector of St Petersburg University should sign various collective petitions to erect a memorial in memory of Petersburgers who lost their lives to the coronavirus infection.

Nikolay Kropachev did not sign any petitions, but personally approached the Governor of St Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, with a proposal to erect a monument to the victims of COVID-19. It is certainly important to always express your personal position, choosing the arguments that matter to yourself and taking responsibility without trying to divide it among an unlimited number of people.

In his message to the Governor, Nikolay Kropachev explained why commemorating Petersburgers who lost their lives to COVID-19 was important to him as a university head whose teachers and colleagues had passed away, a citizen whose friends and acquaintances had passed away during that terrible time, a father of two children, one of whom had contracted COVID. The Rector received a reply from the Governor that Alexander Beglov decided to support the proposal of the Rector of St Petersburg University and other residents of St Petersburg. The initiative will be implemented under a relevant decree of the St Petersburg Government.

4. The Office of RF Prosecutor General and Bard College (USA)

Information is circulating on social media that the Rector of St Petersburg University, Nikolay Kropachev, has appealed to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Office to declare Bard College (USA) an undesirable organisation. The above information is untrue. Anyone can easily find reliable information in the St Petersburg University Virtual Reception (Open media query about the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Bard College), as well as in the media (TASS: Kudrin: an institution based on a St Petersburg University faculty will help other universities introduce Liberal Arts; Interfax: St Petersburg University is investigating whether the American Bard College Foundation is funded by unwanted NGOs; RIA Novosti: A request to check a St Petersburg university for links with the Soros Foundation was made in Russia*). An appeal to the supervisory agency was sent by the Russian NGO Coordination Council, after which the University received numerous queries from the media (Kommersant: The NGO Council demanded to check for links with the Soros Foundation* the as-yet-uncreated University of Liberal Arts; RIA Novosti: A request to check a St Petersburg university for links with the Soros Foundation was made in Russia*; Tsargrad: ’Why only this one?’ A request to check a Russian university for links with the Soros Foundation*raised questions), who wanted to find out whether St Petersburg University cooperated with organisations whose activities have been declared undesirable in Russia (Request from Open Media about the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Bard College).

St Petersburg University learned about the enquiry of the NGO Coordination Council from the media (RIA Novosti: A request to check a St Petersburg university for links with the Soros Foundation was made in Russia*). On the same day Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs of St Petersburg University, sent an enquiry to Bard College to find out whether donations from any organisations whose activities have been declared undesirable in the Russian Federation were used to ensure cooperation between the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Bard College, and whether the Open Society Foundation* is a donor to the endowment fund of Bard College to develop programmes at St Petersburg University in Arts and Humanities.

Bard College’s response did not contain the necessary information (What did Bard College respond about the possible funding of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences by organisations which are undesirable in the Russian Federation?). Due to continuous enquiries from the media and citizens on this topic, on 5 May 2021 the University administration sent a request to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Office to ’evaluate the possibility of continued cooperation between the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St Petersburg University and Bard College (USA) from the perspective of the legislation of the Russian Federation’. As of 17 May 2021, no reply was received.

*An organisation recognised as undesirable in Russia.

5. Restructuring the St Petersburg University Research Support Service

In 2018, St Petersburg University scientists worked with 171 grants from the Russian Science Foundation (RSCF), 600 grants from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), 35 RF Presidential grants, and 4 mega-grants. In 2020, the University’s scientists worked with 251 RSCF grants, 710 RFBR grants, 37 Presidential grants, and 4 mega-grants led by world-class scientists (190 projects more than in 2018). All projects require routine support from the Research Support Service staff, regardless of the scientific focus of the project.

Since 2018, the Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre of St Petersburg University has been in operation (implementation period: 2018–2022). At present, in order to meet the objectives and achieve the results of the National Project ’Science’, two world-class research centres have been established in St Petersburg University in 2019 and 2020 respectively and are successfully operating: the world-class mathematical centre ’Euler International Mathematical Institute’ (implementation period: 2019-2024) and the world-class research centre ’Agrotechnologies of the Future’ (implementation period: 2020–2025), where not only does world-class research take place, but also higher education programmes are provided.

For the implementation of the federal programme of the National Project ’Digital Economy of the Russian Federation’ to disseminate best international practices of training, retraining, and internships for advanced digital economy personnel in the fields of mathematics, computer science, and technology the International Scientific and Methodological Centre was established in 2019, which is implementing personnel training and retraining programmes (implementation period: 2019–2021).

In 2020, St Petersburg University became a member and partner of consortiums of scientific and educational centres (SECs): SEC ’Innovative Solutions in Agricultural Industry’ (Belgorod) in the key area ’Development of Microbiological Fertilisers for Plant Growth and Development Management "Smart Fertilisers"’; SEC ’Technoplatforma 2035′ (Nizhny Novgorod), the key areas of innovative production, components and materials, and intelligent transportation systems; and SEC ’Engineering of the Future’ (Samara) in the key area of work the ’Artificial Intelligence’.

In 2020, St Petersburg University won a competitive application process for leading organisations to receive grants to upgrade their instrument bank.

A separate subsystem ’e-Budget’ for managing the national projects has been set up in the State Integrated Information System (SIIS) for public finance management. All the agreements for subsidies for world-class centres, world-class scientific and educational centres, presidential grants, mega-grants, Federal Targeted Programme (FTP), instrument bank upgrade, etc. are concluded through e-Budget. This system provides not only financial, but also scientific, and other reporting on the St Petersburg University projects. The Research Support Service staff are responsible for collecting data and filing the reports.

Each of the major projects (Euler International Mathematical Institute, world-class research centre ’Agrotechnologies of the Future’, the International Scientific and Methodological Centre, the Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre) requires specific administrative support in order to meet the conditions of the agreement for the project funding subsidies. The activity of each world-class centre is regulated by the Centre Establishment and Development Programme, which not only sets out the targets (number of publications, attracted extra-budgetary funding from the industrial partner, the number of young researchers, etc.) to be achieved by the end of the reporting period (annually) but also lists the scientific events (conferences, symposia, etc.) and academic programmes to be implemented as part of the activities of the centre. It is also required to submit quarterly statistical reports on the centre activities through the account in the information system for monitoring the national projects and programmes in the social sphere.

The Research Support Service currently has 11 divisions:

  • Research Support Service (Central Office)
  • International Research & Technology Department
  • Department for External Financing of R&D
  • Advisory & Expert Department
  • 7 departments of activity spheres
  • Management
  • Biology, Medicine, Medical Technologies, Dentistry
  • Geography, Geology, Geo-Ecology & Soil Science, Chebyshev Laboratory
  • History, Psychology, Philosophy, Jurisprudence
  • Mathematics, Mechanics, Control Processes, Physics, Chemistry
  • International Relations, Political Science, Sociology, Economics
  • Asian and African Studies, Journalism, Arts, Philology

The current structure is characterised by: lack of coordination between the staff of different divisions and difficulties in formation of interdisciplinary projects; lack of continuity between the tender application and project inception and its support at St Petersburg University; lack of human resources in the Research Support Service in terms of specialised support of grants under the national projects: the International Scientific and Methodological Centre, Euler International Mathematical Institute, World-Class Research Centre ’Agrotechnologies of the Future’, etc.

Due to the large number of research projects that require routine support from the Research Support Service and the need to support major projects (world-class centres, the Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre, the International Scientific and Methodological Centre, megagrants, etc.), a transition to project-based support for St Petersburg University research projects is required. All the current St Petersburg University research projects can be divided into five types with the common project support: grants from the Russian Science Foundation, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the Federal Targeted Programme, etc. and prize applications; contract activities (including research internships, independent aspirantura studies) and partnership agreements; internal St Petersburg University projects financed with the University funds (Activities 1, 3, 5, 8, 9); international grants/ projects (including mega-grants); and major projects financed by subsidies in the scope of national projects.

The proposed structure of the Research Support Service shall have a function-based organisation of work:

  • Research Support Service (Central Office)
  • Department for Support of International Research
  • Department for Coordination and Monitoring of Grants and Science Prizes
  • Department for Support of Contractual Research
  • Department of Internal St Petersburg University Research Activities
  • National Projects Office
  • Strategic Planning & Analytics Department

A redistribution of functional responsibilities among the staff of the Research Support Service is also planned. Each employee shall monitor specific projects. Project managers should be selected for support of the National Project grants. The selection process will take into account not only professional competence and knowledge, but also business communication skills, friendliness, learning ability, proper goal-setting, and a focus on achieving results.

The meeting supported the change in the structure of the Research Support Service. Directors and deans shall submit their proposals on this issue before 25 May 2021. All the members of the University community may send their suggestions for possible candidates for the Research Support Service and for improvements to the Service structure to the ViceRector for Research (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

6. Organisation of theses defences

Order No 118 of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science of 24 February 2021 came into force, cancelling the old nomenclature of academic specialities for which degree theses are defended and introducing a new nomenclature (however, the passports of academic specialities were not attached; they will be approved later).

Paragraph 3 of the order granted permission for established dissertation councils to continue operating for 18 months. This permission gave the system of Higher Attestation Commission dissertation councils a 100% guarantee of eligibility to continue work since they had been established earlier.

For the dissertation councils of St Petersburg University, which are established practically every other day, the question arose about the eligibility of their formation after 17 April 2021 according to the old nomenclature of academic specialties.

It was decided to act on two fronts. An inquiry was sent to the Minister about the possibility of establishing dissertation councils according to the old nomenclature after 17 April 2021. And directors and deans were instructed to submit new academic specialties to form a list following the new nomenclature. When the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation introduces the passports of academic specialties, on the same day St Petersburg University can begin accepting theses under the new nomenclature in those cases where the already passed candidate’s examinations are valid.

A response was received from the Russian Ministry of Education and Science on the legitimacy of forming new dissertation councils at St Petersburg University for the old academic specialties within 18 months. On 13 May 2021, the St Petersburg University order was issued, taking into account this clarification.

7. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

Over the past period, the Virtual Reception received 53 enquiries from students and faculty (including 19 questions on educational and methodological issues) to the Senior ViceRector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods, and 34 enquiries were sent to the Vice-Rector by e-mail.

Enquiries were related to various subjects: the state examinations in 2021; problems with access to electronic resources of St Petersburg University; the size of the bachelor’s graduation project; accompanying a relative when arriving from Kazakhstan to take the examinations; transfer; the possibility of taking examinations in the autumn session of 2021 in the online format; expulsion; the possibility of reviewing the grade for the graduation project pre-defence; academic leave; the summer interim assessment format; the possibility of issuing a certificate of advanced training; the schedule of tests in research projects; the lecture format; passing the test during an online course with a proctoring system; given score; expulsion from a non-degree programme; lending documents from the personal file; missing results of an online course; reasonable cause of the unfulfilled programme requirements; and results of the candidate’s examination.

Timely responses to all student enquiries have been prepared by officials, heads of various services of the University, and heads of academic and research departments.

Detailed explanations were given on the most topical issues. It was mentioned that a firstyear bachelor student in restoration, who was in the Republic of Kazakhstan, had sent an application to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods asking about the possibility of crossing the Russian land border together with a guardian (a close relative). The applicant asked for a list of documents to be submitted to the University for her relative to cross the RF border.

She was given the following explanation. Following the instructions published on the St Petersburg University website, a student from Kazakhstan can apply to cross the land border of the Russian Federation as a student of the University. Following Item 14 of Article 2 of Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No 635-r dated 16 March 2020, a relative (grandmother) as an accompanying family member may cross the border of the Russian Federation only through the air border crossing points with the ’Private’ purpose of entry.

Several enquiries were received from students asking to clarify the order on the format of the summer interim assessment: St Petersburg University Order No 4567/1 dated 30 April 2021 ’On extension of the procedure of interim assessment, approved by Order No 11231/1 dated 11 December 2020 "On approval of the procedure of winter interim assessment in the academic year 2020/21"’. The question is raised whether this order means that the summer session will be held solely in remote format in all academic programmes.

Upon requests, a clarification was given that according to Order No 4567/1 dated 30 April 2021 ’On extension of the procedure of interim assessment, approved by Order No 11231/1 dated 11 December 2020 "On approval of the procedure of winter interim assessment in the academic Year 2020/21"’ validity of Order No 11231/1 dated 11 December 2020 ’On approval of the procedure for winter interim assessment in the academic year 2020/21′ applies to the summer interim assessment in the academic year 2020/21.

In accordance with this procedure, the summer interim assessment for the academic year 2020/21 is possible both on St Petersburg University premises (i.e., in the classroom format or in the mixed format including classroom tests/examinations) and by using the information and communication technology. Following Clause 1.2 of the Order, the interim assessment shall be carried out in accordance with the schedule of interim assessment (tests and test retakes, examinations and examination retakes, and other assessment tests) approved by the University and posted in the ’Electronic Timetable’ on the portal page. The format of the test/examination will be shown in the ’Electronic Timetable’.

The format of the interim assessment is based on the format in which the classes were taught. The information on the format of classes for the academic programmes and training areas was regularly posted in the Minutes of the Rector’s Meetings and responses to the Virtual Reception, as well as shown in the ’Electronic Timetable’.

The Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods received an appeal from the second-year master’s students in the Economics and Enterprise Management academic programme about the teaching of the Strategic Management course and the cancellation of the examination results. The students had complaints about the number of practical skills developed in the course, the lecturer’s assessment of the quality of the students’ presentations; they wrote about a discrepancy between the course topics and the materials provided in the Blackboard system, etc.

As a result of the audit, based on the copies of the course pages posted on the Blackboard system, as well as the teaching materials, it was found that:

  • classes and interim assessments were held in accordance with the approved timetable
  • the assessment methodology was applied in accordance with the requirements set out in the subject syllabus
  • titles of the course materials in the Blackboard system correspond to the sections of the ’Strategic Management’ syllabus
  • The curriculum contains a list of required reading (three sources), a list of additional reading (30 sources), and a list of other information sources (15 sources)

No violations in the examination were found and there are no grounds for cancellation of the results. According to the attached information from the Blackboard system, two of the five students who signed the appeal made very little use of the Blackboard system, where the course materials and links to the sources were posted; while two other students did not use the Blackboard system at all. It should be noted that during the course, the students had not approached either the Dean or the Academic Affairs Department regarding the quality of the education.

Alongside the inspection, Iurii Guzov, First Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Viktor Titov, Chairman of the Teaching Methodology Committee, and Iuliia Krylova, Academic Director of the programme, organised a meeting with the students (in an online format). The raised issues were discussed and resolved. As a result of the meeting, the students withdrew their appeal.

At present, the interim assessment for courses delivered in the format of mass open online courses is carried out with the help of the Examus proctoring system, which allows to identify the person taking the test and to monitor the completion of the final test in the online course. With the help of the Examus system, video recordings of the students’ performance of examination tasks in the online course are created, which are then manually checked by Examus specialists (proctors) for compliance with the assessment rules (hereinafter referred to as the Rules).

These rules are communicated to students through the relevant information messages (instructions) by the Academic Affairs Department staff, are present in the appropriate sections of the online courses. They are also communicated to students just before the examination, both on the related page on the platform, and via the platform newsletters.

After completion of the interim assessment in a discipline taught through online courses, proctors review the video recordings and identify violations of the rules. The results of proctoring are reported as positive or negative (in the absence or presence of violations respectively). At the same time, as part of the cooperation between Examus and the Open Education Platform, the following practice has been developed and implemented with all universities: the Open Education Platform receives the status of the Examus proctoring result after the assessment and automatically sends a letter to the student about the proctoring status and the final assessment (positive or negative proctoring status), informing that these results are preliminary, and that the final assessment is made by their university.

In order to support the ongoing session, the University Centre of E-learning Development interacts with the developers of the Open Education Platform and Examus and adjusts the form of the work: messages that are preliminary and do not contain information on passing or failing a test shall not be sent out to the students at St Petersburg University. The software code shall be finalised by the developers of the Open Education Platform.

Furthermore, between 12 and 13 May, the Open Education platform was not working correctly during the final assessment of the online courses delivered via the National Online Education Platform with the use of Examus proctoring system (including the online courses of St Petersburg University).

Due to the large number of complaints from the St Petersburg University students about the problems with opening access to the examination on the Open Education platform (including the Examus application) received by the Centre of E-learning Development, prompt interaction with the developers and representatives of the Open Education platform and Examus was organised by the University.

The feedback from the St Petersburg University students made it possible to identify some systematic errors in the work of the Open Education platform and to challenge the developers of the platform to rectify the situation.

As a result, it was found that this technical problem has been present in the system since the last Open Education platform update (in September 2020) and had appeared previously in other higher education institutions. It was not widespread and problems encountered by the students were solved manually by reconfiguring the assessments. Meanwhile, between 12 and 13 May, 39 (!) assessments of online courses were held at St Petersburg University (22 assessments on 12 May and 17 on 13 May). In the spring of 2020, some 3,700 students at St Petersburg University took interim assessments in disciplines delivered through online courses. This academic year, given the increase in the total number of online courses used, the number of students being assessed in online courses has increased significantly (in the previous session there were more than 22,000). The statistics of the spring interim assessment for the academic year 2020/21 will be made available after the end of the academic year. Obviously, an increase in the number of students has a direct impact on the number of different types of student complaints and appeals.

On 13 May, as of 3pm, the problem with malfunctioning of the Open Education platform has been resolved by the developers of the platform in cooperation with the specialists from the St Petersburg University Centre of E-learning Development and the Examus system. On 14 May, in cooperation with the St Petersburg University Academic Affairs Department, the staff of the University Centre of E-learning Development sent out a message to all St Petersburg University students who had taken the interim assessment in their online courses on 12 and 13 May, informing them that they could now take their exams at another time due to the technical failure of the Open Education platform.

The current teaching and learning process (according to information from most heads of the academic subdivisions) is taking place as usual in accordance with the timetable, both in the online and mixed formats. Problems that arise are duly resolved.

The Dean of the School of International Relations received two letters from bachelor’s students. The first was from a student from Turkey regarding a certificate of an online course posted on the international education platform Coursera. The student received a detailed answer. The second was from first-year students about receiving credit for a recommended online course at St Petersburg University, ’General History — Part 2′. The Dean reported the students’ appeal to the International Relations Academic Office and the problem was rectified.

The directors and the deans presented their reports on meetings with representatives of the student community. Organisation of classes and the instruction process were discussed. No issues were reported. Some heads of academic subdivisions either did not hold meetings with student councils over the past week.

Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 2 August 2021

  1. Admissions processes
  2. Amending the Rules and regulations for defending dissertations to gain a degree of candidate of sciences and doctor of sciences approved by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia
  3. Measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection (COVID19) at St Petersburg University
  4. Inspection by the Prosecutor's Office upon revealing educational documents and other materials from Bard College in St Petersburg University
  5. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  6. Admission of the Alumni Association's members to St Petersburg University
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Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 5 Jule 2021

  1. Changes introduced into the Federal Law ‘On Lomonosov Moscow State University and St Petersburg University’
  2. Decisions on Human Resources
  3. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  4. On accommodating students in the halls of residence
  5. St Petersburg University visited by the winners and laureates of the all-Russia Olympiads among school students seeking to be enrolled into the bachelor’s programmes in mathematics and computer science
  6. The number of the University projects supported by the Russian Science Foundation
  7. Digital profiles of research and teaching staff
  8. Preliminary results of the assessment
  9. The results of work dedicated to the perpetuation of the memory of Lyudmila Verbitskaya
  10. Organising medical check-ups for students
  11. The response of the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation to the enquiry from St Petersburg University
  12. Observing the face mask mandate by the students
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Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 15 June 2021

  1. Valerii Zapasskii, a scientist of St Petersburg University – laureate of the Russian Federation National Award
  2. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  3. Using the results of The Three University Missions ranking
  4. Taking into account the data of the World University Ranking (U.S. News Best Global Universities)
  5. A series of webinars for teachers of the Leningrad region
  6. Medals of the Russian Academy of Sciences – for young scientists of St Petersburg University
  7. Compensation of expenses for the publication of scientific articles
  8. Violations committed by students of St Petersburg University
  9. Tuition fees at St Petersburg University
  10. Termination of the contract between St Petersburg University and the Alumni Association
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Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 8 June 2021

  1. St Petersburg University scientists received Golitsyn Prize of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  2. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  3. Events on the margins of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum
  4. St Petersburg University is the best university in Russia in terms of financial management quality
  5. Strategic session devoted to the creation of world-class campuses
  6. The issues related to the University’s Strategic Plan have been clarified
  7. The cooperation between St Petersburg University and Lomonosov Moscow State University in the field of distance learning
  8. Who will receive the scholarships of the Russian Federation Government?
  9. The achievements of St Petersburg University students in the field of sport
  10. The St Petersburg University Collegium of Honorary Professors discussed the activity of the Alumni Association
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Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 31 May 2021

  1. Professor Petr Iablonskii is awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of St Petersburg
  2. The award named after Professor Vataniar Yagya is established
  3. St Petersburg University staff receiving the Prizes of the Government of St Petersburg
  4. St Petersburg University scientists in ‘The New Knowledge’ marathon
  5. ‘The Architecture of the Siege’ – the best documentary
  6. The use of digital portfolio in the system of general education
  7. The events within the framework of the Korea–Russia Dialogue
  8. St Petersburg University Agreement with Iranian partners
  9. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  10. The enquiry from a student of St Petersburg University
  11. The hybrid format of the graduation ceremonies
  12. The ‘Priority-2030’ programme
  13. Applications of the competition participants seeking academic and teaching staff positions
  14. The disappearance of a student
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Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 17 May 2021

  1. A session of Petersburger Dialogue Coordinating Committees
  2. St Petersburg University Strategic Plan indicators
  3. Monument to COVID-19 victims
  4. The Office of RF Prosecutor General and Bard College (USA)
  5. Restructuring the St Petersburg University Research Support Service
  6. Organisation of theses defences
  7. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
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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 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 5 April 2021

  1. Kirill Chistiakov has been awarded the title of ‘Honoured Geographer of the Russian Federation’
  2. The Government of St Petersburg Official Award named after Gennady Leonov
  3. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  4. Participation of students in the project on Monitoring Law Enforcement
  5. Organising access to the resources of the Research Park
  6. ‘St Petersburg University Journal of Economic Studies’ (SUJES) has been included into Scopus database
  7. The Prize of Elsevier company
  8. The results of the joint competition of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Iran National Science Foundation (INSF)
  9. Interaction of the University with Iranian partners
  10. The installation of a memorial plate to Vladimir Mavrodin
  11. The status of the reorganisation of St Petersburg University
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Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 29 March 2021

  1. Operation of the St Petersburg University Centre for Financial Literacy in 2020
  2. Professor Detlef Bahnemann is elected to the European Academy of Sciences
  3. How laboratory data sheets work
  4. Dmitri Mendeleev and St Petersburg University
  5. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
  6. Questions about the reorganisation of St Petersburg University
  7. Arbitration Court sustains St Petersburg University’s claim against the Territorial Fund for Compulsory Medical Insurance
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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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