- Admissions processes
- 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
- Measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection (COVID19) at St Petersburg University
- Inspection by the Prosecutor's Office upon revealing educational documents and other materials from Bard College in St Petersburg University
- Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
- Admission of the Alumni Association's members to St Petersburg University
1. Admissions processes
At St Petersburg University, admissions process for degree programmes is still underway. The dead line to submit application documents to study bachelor's and specialist’s programmes on the state-funded places was 29 July 2021. The ranked lists of applicants were published on the University website on 2 August 2021.
75,582 applications were submitted to study on the government-funded basis and fee-paying basis, updated 1 August 2021. It is 46.3% more that in the previous year. In 2020, there were 51,670 applications submitted by 1 August 2020. 1,264 out of 75,582 applications were submitted to study on specially allocated places (on 1 August 2020, there were 413 applications, i.e. a three-fold rise), among them were 891 applications from applicants with disability (on 1 August 2020, there were 284 applications, i.e. a three-fold rise); there were 494 applications for sponsored places (on 1 August 2020, there 137 applications for sponsored places, i.e. a 3.6-fold rise). It was also noted that among those who were recommended to be enrolled for study in some academic programmes were many applicants who had a right to be enrolled without having to take entrance examination.
The University is currently organising entrance examinations, including assessment of portfolio, for master's programmes implemented in an intramural form of study. The University continues to accept documents to: bachelor's and specialist’s programmes on a fee-paying basis; master's programmes implemented in intra-extramural form of study; clinical residency programmes; and non-university level higher education. The deadline for submitting the documents to study postgraduate programmes for training research and teaching staff was 2 August 2021.
As part of the admissions process for international students, the University and Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation are preparing the documents that are necessary to enrol those who have successfully passed entrance examinations and have been recommended to be enrolled: preparing a document for study; visa policy; and enrolment orders for international students whose documents for study have already been received from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation on the government-funded basis.
On 30 July 2021, the Government of the Russian Federation held an extended session for the federal bodies that had a right to govern educational institutions of higher education and for the rectors of universities that reported to the Government to discuss the issues relating to usage of the federal information system – super service 'Admissions online'.
They discussed the issues relating to: modern processing of applications and documents by educational institutions submitted via the super service; accuracy in presenting the obtained information by the educational institutions; rules and regulations for preparing and publishing the competition lists of applicants of bachelor's and specialist’s programmes; and rules and regulations for organising acceptance of the consents for enrolment. The University has been successfully accepting the documents via the super service (read more in Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 26 July 2021). About 12% applications have been submitted via the super service 'Application online'.
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
The Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation published Order
No 458 that partially became in force on 1 August 2021. The order specifies the Rules and regulations for defending the doctoral dissertations based on the overall number of works that was approved by Decree No 426 of the Government of the Russian Federation dated 20 March 2021. The website of an organisation must have a list of the publications of an applicant. If the publications are not possible to read online, they must be submitted in paper. St Petersburg University introduced the possibility to defend doctoral dissertations based on the overall number of publications in 2016 (Order No 6821/1 dated 1 September 2016 and Order No 6129/1 dated 4 June 2021).
Additionally, the Order of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education introduces a right to include candidates of sciences and PhDs in the dissertation councils that shall account for 25% at most (the draft of the order on introducing the relevant amendments to form dissertation councils at St Petersburg University has been developed and is currently being discussed). The order also specifies the concept of the conflict of interests that must be taken into account in forming dissertation councils. St Petersburg University solved this issue as long ago as 2016 (Order No 6821/1 dated 1 September 2016).
The University is four up to five years ahead of the federal regulations for organising defences of dissertations. The Rector of the University, Nikolay Kropachev, told that the University was not ahead as all universities across Russia were different as were the councils that were formed according to the rules of the Higher Attestation Committee of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. The University was entitled to operate under its own rules and regulations to test new working schemes in Russia. If they prove to be effective, they can be adopted by other institutions across Russia (in case these institutions are ready to adopt them).
If you defend your dissertation as a research report based on your works published during the recent 10 years and submitted to be defended, the number of publications should be at least 50 for humanities and 30 for technical sciences. Although the requirements are high, there are nevertheless those who are intended to defend their dissertations based on their publications.
The rules and regulations for preparing research and teaching staff on the postgraduate programmes (postgraduate military programmes) shall come into force on 1 September 2021. They will specify the form and the content of the certificate of postgraduate studies, names of the programmes to prepare teaching and research staff, and other issues.
There are a number of requests to issue documents in foreign languages that prove that the degree has been awarded. The Virtual Reception received an enquiry submitted by Mr Kuryndin. He suggested issuing a diploma of candidate of sciences or doctor of sciences both in Russian and English. The University has a right to issue the diploma both in Russian and English as the University is entitled to issue documents of its own format. The division that is responsible for organising the work of the dissertation councils has been instructed to develop a draft of the new diploma and prepare an order for new certificates in English and Russian. It should be noted that translation of the diploma into English means there may be several variants of translation of the academic degrees.
For example, the academic degree 'Кандидат юридических наук' (Candidate of Law) can be translated as follows:
- Candidate Juridicheskih Nauk
- Candidate of Legal Sciences
- Candidate of Sciences in Jurisprudence
How the translation of the academic degree sounds in English is important. The translation shall therefore be assessed by experts in philology at the University. The text in English with the transcripts of academic degrees is not a text of the state document, but a translation because the list of academic degrees is stipulated in the Russian language in the federal laws. The participants of the meeting are sure that the diploma in Russian and English will enable Russian scientists and scholars to gain international recognition and facilitate the search for international colleagues from universities and research organisations abroad to develop joint projects.
3. Measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) at St Petersburg University
The Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation presented recommendations for organisations under the surveillance of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19). The document lists the legal acts to operate in accordance with in solving the issues relating to prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus infection among staff and students. The position of the University remains the same. The University is to follow the recommendations of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) at St Petersburg. The University continues basic sanitation of the University premises: halls of residence, laboratories, buildings, according to the approved schedule. The University buildings have hand sanitiser dispenser machines. The restrictions related to mask regime and social distancing at the University buildings are still not to be eased as the current number of the vaccinated staff and students or staff and students who have suffered from COVID-19 during the last six months is 3,000 at most. This number is evidently not enough to develop a herd immunity.
As the epidemiological situation shows, the lessons from 1 September 2021 will be delivered in a blended format. They will be delivered in a face-to-face format, by using information and telecommunication technologies, or in a hybrid form. When moving in the halls of residence, students shall provide all necessary documents and a COVID certificate, or a notice that they have medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated, or a notice that they have suffered from COVID-19 during the last six months.
If Rospotrebnadzor at St Petersburg adopts decisions similar to those adopted in Moscow, the University is to follow the same measures as Lomonosov Moscow University and other universities in Moscow have. The University staff and students are advised not to wait for these decisions to be adopted in order to prevent the situation when they will be forced to get vaccinated to be allowed to deliver or to visit face-to-face classes.
4. Inspection by the Prosecutor's Office upon revealing educational documents and other materials from Bard College in St Petersburg University
On 21 June 2021, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation, published information on its website in relation to recognising the activities of the foreign nongovernmental organisation 'Bard College (USA)' as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation and information on sending the data to the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation to include Bard College into a list of foreign and international nongovernmental organisations whose activities are recognised as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation, and the publication of this information (Minutes of the Rector's meeting dated 17 May 2021).
On 24 June 2021, an information letter issued by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation was received. The letter informed educational institutions about the decision adopted by the Prosecutor General's Office and contained a link to the updated list of organisations published on the official website of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and in the newspaper 'Rossiyskaya Gazeta'. On 22 June
2021, in accordance with the decision adopted by the Prosecutor General's Office, Sergey
Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs of St Petersburg University, sent a letter to Bard College on terminating the collaboration between the University and Bard College and terminating all agreements signed between the University and Bard College. (Terminating the collaboration with Bard College, Minutes of the Rector's Meeting dated 28 June 2021).
After the information on Bard College was officially published, St Petersburg University issued orders to exclude the representatives of Bard College from the Academic Council of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at St Petersburg University, research and methodological committees, and councils of the relevant academic programmes (Order No 6697/1 dated 22 June 2021 'On Amending Order No 1742/1 dated 2 April 2014 “On the Temporary Composition of the Academic Council of the Faculty of Liberal
Arts and Sciences at St Petersburg University”'; Order No 6682/1 dated 22 June 2021
'On Amending Order No 8060/1 dated 11 September 2020 'On the approval of the composition of the research committees for interdisciplinary research in the field of natural sciences and humanities for 2020-2021”'; Order No 6694/1 dated 22 June 2021 'On the new edition of the clauses of Order No 5549/1 dated 6 June 2018 'On the approval of the council of the master's programme VM.5670 * “Curatorial research””’; Order No 6695/1 dated 22 June 2021 'On the new edition of Order No 8020/1 dated 4 October 2016 'On the approval of the council of the bachelor's programme SV.5045 * “Liberal Arts and Sciences””’; Order No 6698/1 dated 22 June 2021 'On the new edition of the clauses of Order No 4834/1 dated 24 May 2018 'On the approval of the council of the master's programme VM.5620 * “Music Criticism””’).
Additionally, on 22 July 2021, there was published Order No 7402/1 'On organising the work of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation' that approved the members of the working group to inspect the implementation of the decision adopted by the
Prosecutor General's Office in the Russian Federation. The head of the working group is Acting Deans of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the relevant periods; the members are academic staff at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. By 20 August 2021, the working group was instructed to inspect the following:
- library stocks
- teaching methodology documents
- research plans
- the Faculty premises
- the Faculty website to eliminate the information on collaboration with Bard College
On 27 July 2021, Acting Head of the Academic Office in Arts and Humanities (the former head of the office left the service without duly transferring duties and documents to the acting head of the office) was searching for a place to file documents and opened a metal wardrobe for filing office documents at the building of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences where he found the documents of Bard College: duly issued diplomas of Bard College, certificates, and files for documents of Bard College. The documents were analysed, and the data in those documents were compared with the data from the
University's databases of students and graduates. Among the documents were diplomas and certificates issued for the University graduates of the 2020-2021 academic year.
As the documents concern the foreign non-government organisation 'Bard College, USA', whose activities are recognised as undesirable in the Russian Federation, the information was forwarded to the Prosecutor's Office at St Petersburg. An inspection is currently being carried out on the fact of a possible violation of legislation on the territory of St Petersburg University in terms of storing and distributing information materials of Bard College and assisting Bard College in its activities on the territory of the Russian Federation.
5. Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process
Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received 31 enquiries on various subjects, including those on organising teaching and learning process and methodological work: format of learning and teaching in the new academic year; teaching people with disability; subject syllabus; advanced training at the University; submitting documents and passing entrance examinations during academic transfer at the
University; elective courses at the University; a diploma supplement issued in the European format; and others.
There were registered nine enquiries submitted by students, with eight out of them relating to the methodological issues: a student monthly allowance; results of the pass/fail tests; issuing notices and transcripts; receiving documents on licensing; and others. In relation to all enquiries, information is collected and there are follow-up check-ups by a range of the University divisions, with all replies sent on time.
Most reports submitted by heads of the academic and research divisions show that the teaching and learning process is completed, and students are on holiday. Over the past week, heads of most academic and research divisions reported that they had no meetings with students as students were on holiday
6. Admission of the Alumni Association's members to St Petersburg University
St Petersburg University has so far issued 5,287 e-passes for the members of the organisations that is generally referred to as St Petersburg University Alumni Association. The pass holders could visit the academic, research, and other events organised on the territory of the University, library, and all University buildings. In 2019, there were 21,538 admissions to the territory of the University by the passes of the Alumni Association; in 2020, there were 8,839 admissions; and, in 2021, there were 5,796 admissions. The decline in admissions is primarily associated with introducing the COVID-related measures to ensure epidemiological safety on the territory of the University.
On 9 July 2021, St Petersburg University terminated an agreement that was signed with the
Alumni Association on 26 October 2014 (Minutes of the Rector's Meeting dated 8 June 2021). This decision was adopted in relation to violation of the current legislation of the Russian Federation by the administration of the Alumni Association that was revealed during the inspection of the documents by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
After the University terminated the agreement, the University had to tackle an issue of the passes that had been issued previously. On 14 July 2021, the Virtual Reception received an enquiry from the University graduate relating to the right to use the e-pass to visit the University Library. As the members of the Alumni Association became the victims of violation of the legislation by the administration of the Alumni Association, the University adopted a decision to extend the period of validity of the passes that had been previously issued.
The number of people who participated in the recent election procedures of the Association was small. Also, there is a lack of accessible and accurate information on the Association's membership. It is therefore necessary to eliminate doubt about the admission of certain members of the Association to the territory of the University. For that reason, a note was issued to the current administration of the Association requesting that it evaluate the relevance of the listed pass holders with the issued passes. The reply to the enquiry has not been received so far. The University will therefore have to evaluate the relevance of the listed pass holders and adopt decisions on a case-by-case basis.