Minutes of the Rector's Meeting

No. 518

    Tatiana Chernigovskaya wins the Lev Vygotsky award

    By the decision of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Education dated 27 January 2022, Professor Tatiana Chernigovskaya, Director of the Institute for Cognitive Studies at St Petersburg University, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Education, was granted the Lev Vygotsky award of the Russian Academy of Education for a significant contribution to education and research (Tatiana Chernigovskaya wins the Lev Vygotsky award).

    The Award of Lev Vygotsky is given to citizens of the Russian Federation. It can be awarded to administrative staff, academic staff at scientific or educational organisations, or prominent figures in the field of educational sciences who have made a significant contribution to the theory and methodology of psychology, cognitive sciences, linguistics, defectology, particular psychology, and correctional pedagogy.

    Professor Tatiana Chernigovskaya is one of the leading experts in cognitive sciences in Russia and abroad. This award is good evidence of her high professional level.

    The meeting participants congratulated Tatyana Chernigovskaya and wished her success and new scientific achievements.

    Results of the meeting held by Valery Falkov, Minister of Science and Higher Education, with rectors of universities

    On 21 March 2022, Valery Falkov, Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, held a meeting with the heads of higher education institutions. The key issue of the meeting is the organisation of the work of higher education institutions in the new conditions.

    In his speech, Valery Falkov drew attention to the issues reflected in the presentation of the Minister’s speech (Presentation).

    • Working with students in a full-time format. Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities of St Petersburg University, was instructed to organise the teaching and learning process mainly in a full-time format and consider the issues relating to increasing the number of contact hours and practical training of students
    • Providing legal aid and psychological support for students and staff. St Petersburg University provides legal aid and psychological support via the St Petersburg University Clinics. The first legal clinic in Russia appeared in the 19th century at St Petersburg Imperial University. The first legal clinic in modern Russia opened at St Petersburg University in 1998. Today, the University has 15 clinics. The objectives of the clinical model are to: improve the quality of education; ensure the teaching of moral values; and provide opportunities for the socialisation of students and social assistance. The main distinguishing features of the clinics at St Petersburg University are: for students, being engaged in a clinic is an obligatory part of the learning process; for academic staff, working in a clinic is one of the mandatory formats of the teaching process. Since the clinics opened, more than 25,000 students at the University have participated in their activities ("It should become the norm for everyone": the country’s leading universities discuss the benefits of clinics as a form of education)

    Additionally, as reported at the previous Rector’s meetings, the heads of academic and research subdivisions, on behalf of Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, held meetings with the students from the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, and Ukraine to offer psychological support and financial assistance to name just a few (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 14 March 2022).

    • Improving approaches to work with young people. At St Petersburg University, a proposal to change the procedure for forming student councils was made as early as 2021 by the Student Council of the Faculty of Law. Last year, the members of the Student Council proposed to include representatives of the student associations of the Faculty of Law in addition to the representative students of different years of study and academic groups (for example, a student scientific society). Taking into account this proposal, the Student Council of the Faculty of Law prepared a draft of a new version of the Regulations on the Student Council at the Faculty of Law. The project was supported by the Academic Council at the Faculty of Law and is currently under consideration by the Student Council at St Petersburg University
    • Introducing the posts of Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Deputy Dean for Youth Policy. At the Rector’s meeting, a decision was made to appoint Aleksandr Babich, Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Admissions, to the post of Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, and to appoint Vladimir Savinov, Head of the Department for Youth Affairs, to the post of Vice-Rector for Educational Activity. The Vice-Rector for Educational Activity will report to the Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions

    The heads of academic and research subdivisions were instructed to submit proposals for introducing the post of Deputy Dean/Director for Youth Policy at the University and their scope of responsibilities by 4 April 2022.

    • Analysis of international educational and research projects. In this part, attention should be paid to the interaction between Russian universities and universities of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and the Eurasian Economic Union(EAEU) to name just a few. Earlier, the Rector had already given the instructions to the heads of academic and research subdivisions to submit to Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, proposals regarding foreign organisations and public authorities to develop academic cooperation (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 9 March 2022, dated 14 March 2022). Today, it is also necessary to focus on reconsidering the members of the councils of the academic programmes, the editorial boards of the University’s journals, dissertation councils, and other units to include representatives of organisations from partner countries of the Russian Federation
    • Indicators of scientists’ publication activity in journals indexed in the international databases (Web of Science, Scopus) and participation of scientists in international research events. The Government of the Russian Federation agreed with the proposal of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation not to take into account the relevant indicators in the course of: monitoring the execution of state tasks; assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of organisations, and the work of their heads; implementing programmes to support higher education, research, technical and innovative programmes and projects; and other events. At the same time, the collection and analysis of data on the availability of publications indexed in international databases (Web of Science, Scopus) and the participation of scientists in international research events will be continued. If university students have the opportunity and are ready to publish in relevant journals and participate in international events, there is no need to stop this work

    Meeting of the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District ‘The Methodology for Calculating the Regional Rankings "The Three University Missions" and the Results of the Pilot Release’

    On 25 March 2022, a meeting of the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District was held to discuss the methodology for calculating the indicators of the regional rankings ‘The Three University Missions’ and the results of the pilot release for universities of the Northwestern Federal District. The meeting brought together rectors and representatives of universities of the Northwestern Federal District (91 participants) and deputy heads and representatives of the administrations of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation of the Northwestern Federal District: the Republic of Komi, the Government of the Leningrad Region, the Republic of Karelia, the Pskov Region, the Novgorod Region, the Murmansk Region, the Vologda Region, the Kaliningrad Region, the Arkhangelsk Region, the Office of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Northwestern Federal District, and St Petersburg Administration (13 participants). There were more than 100 participants in total.

    Nikolay Kropachev, Chairperson of the Presidium of the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District, Rector of St Petersburg University, made an opening speech. He stressed that the policy of international rankings agencies is set to exclude the higher education institutions of the Russian Federation from the rankings. Therefore, the development of the national ranking system "The Three University Missions", including the special regional rankings, is essential.

    At the meeting, there was a report by Dmitry Grishankov, CEO of the Association of Ranking Compilers, Advisor to the President of the Russian Union of Rectors, ‘Positions of universities in the Northwestern Federal District in the pilot release of local university rankings in 2021 from the ecosystem of "The Three University Missions Rankings"’ (the presentation is available on the website of the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District). The report describes the methodology for compiling regional rankings and presents the results of a pilot project for the Northwestern Federal District, including a comparison in terms of indicators with the results obtained in other federal districts.

    St Petersburg University becomes the vice-champion of the "medal standings" of the Three University Missions Rankings

    The meeting discussed the need to improve the system of indicators of regional rankings, primarily in the section "Society". When summing up the results of the meeting, it was noted that the social mission of the university is not only related to how it is represented in social networks, but how it achieves the results of participation in the social and socio-economic development of the region: from volunteering, organising psychological, legal and other types of assistance to the population of the region to preparing high-calibre staff and carry out research projects for the development of each region.

    The system of regional rankings is being developed to be used: as a basis for the mutual evaluation of universities in order to develop cooperation and partnerships; as an incentive for regional authorities to involve universities in solving the real-life problems of the regions; in the implementation of the partnership project of St Petersburg University "Mendeleev"; and other forms and areas of cooperation.

    To develop rankings’ indicators, it was proposed to create an expert group with the participation of universities and representatives of the authorities of the regions of the Northwestern Federal District.

    Meeting of St Petersburg University students with Valery Fadeyev

    On 24 March 2022, a meeting was held between Valery Fadeyev, Chairperson of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation, and representatives of student associations of the University.

    The meeting brought together more than 70 students, leaders and representatives of various student associations of the University. Among them were representatives of student councils of institutes and faculties; student scientific societies; the St Petersburg University Sports Club; the Headquarters of the St Petersburg University student teams; the Ingria student search team; the St Petersburg University Volunteer Centre; the St Petersburg University International Students Club; and representatives of the St Petersburg University clinics.

    During the meeting, Valery Fadeyev told about current issues of the international geopolitical situation and answered questions from students.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received eight enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Additionally, 13 enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register.

    The enquiries were on various topics, including the format of the teaching and learning process; obtaining documents from the student’s personal data.

    According to information from the heads of most academic and research subdivisions, classes are delivered according to the timetable in the prescribed manner. Information about the teaching and learning process was not received from the heads of the Institute of Pedagogy, the Institute for Cognitive Studies, the Faculty of Law, and the Graduate School of Management.

    Following the task to increase the contact classroom work and increase the practical training of students, the Rector of St Petersburg University ordered to organise the teaching and learning process mainly in the classroom format and consider the issue of increasing the number of contact hours and practical training of students.

    Following Order No 1893/1 ‘On the operation of Order № 7991/1 dated 13 March 2021 "On the format of classes in the 2021/22 academic year" in the period from 07 March 2022’ dated 04 March 2022, the University has a predominantly mixed format of the teaching and learning process.

    Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, held a meeting with the heads of academic and research subdivisions and received proposals from the directors of institutes and deans of faculties to increase the percentage of classes delivered in the in-person format.

    Some heads (including the heads of the Faculty of the Asian and African Studies; the Institute for Competition Development and Antimonopoly Regulation at St Petersburg University; the Institute for Cognitive Studies; the Institute of Philosophy; the Institute of History; the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science; the Faculty of Physics; the Faculty of Sociology; and the College of Medicine) said that the teaching and learning process was organised mainly in an in-person format, no changes were required. Some heads (the Institute of Chemistry; the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes) said that a significant part of the classes was delivered in the in-person format and transferring classes to the in-person format was underway. Some of the heads of the academic and research subdivisions reported that the current percentage of on-campus classes was optimal, taking into account the need to deliver classes in a hybrid format for international students.

    Decisions were made to deliver practical classes, on-campus classes in elective courses and others in the in-person format in those academic and research subdivisions where a mixed learning format was stipulated in the relevant documents. These changes will be published on the E-Timetable in the near future.

    Meetings with students (representatives of student councils, student scientific societies and group heads) were not held by some heads over the past week.

    At the meeting with student representatives, the Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Biology discussed a proposal of the first-year undergraduate students on the distribution of students into groups for summer practice at the educational and research station "Belomorskaya". Students are distributed into groups by the supervisor of practice, taking into account the opinion of students, whether they have the necessary vaccinations, the absence of medical contraindications, the capacity of the practice base, and other conditions. The meeting of the supervisor of practice with students to discuss the issues relating to the organisation of the practice is scheduled for the next week. Other issues of the organisation of the teaching and learning process were discussed.

    At the meeting of the Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts with representatives of the Student Council and the head of the fourth-year bachelor’s students, the issues with organising the teaching and learning process were discussed. The third-year students of the academic programme "Applied Informatics in Arts and Humanities" were interested in incorporating disciplines to study languages into the block of the elective courses. The students proposed to increase the elective courses for the third year of study. As it has been repeatedly discussed at the Rector’s meetings, any University student can send proposals regarding the content of curricula and particular academic disciplines and practices to the teaching methodology committees in consolidated groups of specialities and fields of study.

    At the meeting of the Dean of the School of International Relations with students, the issues relating to conducting the state final assessment in 2022 for master’s students were discussed. The main organisational and procedural issues relating to preparing and conducting a state final assessment were highlighted during the discussion. In order to test the technical and procedural part of conducting exams in the Blackboard system using the invigilation system, it is planned, together with the heads of academic programmes and chairpersons of subject commissions, to organise trial state exams for bachelor’s and master’s students in May and for postgraduate students in June 2022.

    The Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics informed the students about the format of the teaching and learning process; interim and final assessment; pre-graduation practice; defence of graduation projects; and other issues of the current activities.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process and other issues were discussed at the meetings with representatives of student councils, student scientific societies and heads of groups and heads of the Institute of Chemistry; the Faculty of Political Science; the Faculty of Sociology; the Institute of Earth Sciences; the Faculty of Philology; and the Medical College (the minutes of the meeting are not formalised and have not been submitted for publication).

    There were meetings of students with the heads of the College of Physical Training and Sports, Economics and Technology (the minutes of the meeting were not formalised and have not been submitted for publication); the Institute of Philosophy; the Faculty of Asian and African Studies; and the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes.

    Student complaints about the quality of education

    Due to various student complaints about the quality of education, recording classes using information and communication technology will be organised. Employees of the Information Technology Service have prepared a guide to record classes held with the help of MS Teams and a guide to publishing the recordings performed outside MS Teams in OneDrive. Now every teacher holding classes with the use of information and communication technologies has to record videos of classes and keep them in a particular storage space similar to the records of tests and examinations held in a distant format. The recording will be stored until all the students of the course or group take the test or examination in the given discipline.

    The link to the guide published on the University website will be sent to the research and teaching staff in the near future.

    Organising money transfers from other countries for international students

    In view of the current limitations, students experience difficulties transferring money from other countries and withdrawing money from the accounts in international banks.

    According to Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector, Bank Saint Petersburg provides an opportunity for international students of St Petersburg University, currently located in the Russian Federation, to open bank accounts and receive money from abroad.

    St Petersburg University has prepared an instruction for students on further steps towards receiving transfers from abroad:

    1. In the Student’s Personal Account, the student has to fill in an application form to issue a rouble card in Bank Saint Petersburg
    2. St Petersburg University organises the production of such bank cards by Bank Saint Petersburg. Bank Saint Petersburg provides the bank cards in a centralised manner at the University
    3. Upon receiving the bank card, the student has to open an account in a foreign currency via online-bank service at Bank Saint Petersburg. This account can be used to receive transfers from abroad to cover tuition and other costs
    4. Residents of the Russian Federation have the right to sell foreign currency, transfer roubles to their bank account and pay for their studies, and other costs with this bank card
    5. Non-residents of the Russian Federation will be able to transfer money from the established foreign currency account towards their tuition to the foreign currency account of St Petersburg University in Bank Saint Petersburg. The money remaining in the account will be converted into roubles following the order of the account holder and transferred to the bank card to be further withdrawn in an ATM or used for payments in roubles

    If other banks able to perform transactions with foreign currency offer similar or different options to St Petersburg University, international students and the Rector’s meeting participants will be immediately informed about it.

    Transfer of students from international universities to St Petersburg University

    As previously mentioned in the minutes of the Rector’s meetings and other sections on the University website, the University has provided for accepting applications for transfer to St Petersburg University of the citizens of: the Russian Federation currently receiving education abroad and facing unfair prejudice due to the situation in Ukraine; the citizens of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, who had to leave their countries and arrive in the Russian Federation. According to Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, as of 25 March 2022, 83 applications for transfer to St Petersburg University from the universities of other countries (the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Israel, the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, Romania, Canada, the USA, Switzerland, France, Ukraine, Spain, Austria, Italy, Latvia, Finland, South Korea) were received.

    The orders on enrolment in the form of transfer from an international educational organisation of three students from the universities of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Czech Republic and Poland in the field of "Public Administration", "Political Science" and "Tourism" were issued.

    Legal aid and psychological support for the students and staff

    The students arriving at the higher education institutions located in St Petersburg from the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic and Ukraine, and Russian students studying abroad and forced to suspend their education there need support in adjusting to the new circumstances. As previously mentioned, the University has an established system of support for everyone, who needs help, with a network of continuously operating specialised subdivisions — clinics.

    Today, 15 clinics operate at St Petersburg University: the IT Clinic, the Legal Clinic, the Psychological Clinic, the Social Clinic, the Environmental Clinic, the Museum and Architectural Clinic, the Mediation Centre, the Centre for Financial Literacy, the Social Translation Centre, the Media Centre, the Centre for Applied Economic Research, the Sociological Clinic for Applied Research, the Pedagogical Clinic, the Archival Clinic, the Clinic of Communication Projects. The clinics systematically perform a social activity at the University.

    The Psychological Clinic
    The Psychological Clinic

    The staff and students of the Psychological Clinic at St Petersburg University provide professional psychological support. The students of the Legal Clinic, supervised by teachers, provide free legal services to the citizens in different fields of law. The Centre for Financial Literacy, with the help of students supervised by teachers, provides advice in the field of insurance, bank services, and bank loans to name just a few.

    The Centre for Financial Literacy
    The Centre for Financial Literacy

    Every year, students of the Legal Clinic perform over 500 consultations. The students of the Psychological Clinic provide help and support in solving psychological issues to the citizens of St Petersburg University and the students, teachers and staff at St Petersburg University. Every year, the students supervised by teachers perform over 2,000 consultations.

    The Social Translation Centre
    The Social Translation Centre

    The students of the Social Translation Centre, supervised by teachers, provide free services in interpreting and translation to at-risk groups and non-governmental and charity organisations.

    The Social Translation Centre
    The Social Translation Centre

    In 2021, the students of St Petersburg University providing help within the framework of the clinics at St Petersburg University conducted over 4,300 different consultations based on citizens’ requests and implemented over 300 projects. Contact information to request support is available on the webpages of the clinics.

    The directors and deans shall conduct meetings with the active members of the clinics to provide them with the necessary support in their work.

    Requests of support on the part of teachers arriving in St Petersburg from Ukraine

    A married couple of teachers (a lawyer and a philosopher) evacuated from Kharkov and turned to St Petersburg University for help. They had difficulties with migration registration since they had arrived with their Ukrainian passports and the confirmation of their certificates of education. ‘Soon we will have issues with accommodation and material support since we left Kharkov literally under bombing and had no chance to take things, money and technical appliances’.

    The Rector gave relevant tasks to the University officials. At the Rector’s meeting, Dmitry Gryaznov, Deputy Rector for Security, said that the family is being helped with migration registration and refugee status. Dmitrii Mikhailov, Chief Engineer, said that this family needed temporary accommodation. He offered them a University-owned apartment located at 15/3 Khalturina Street, Peterhof, and they will move there in the near future. Sergei Belov, Dean of the Faculty of Law, asked the teacher from Kharkov to send his CV and other data to assess the level of his scientific training. It turned out that the teacher has many research publications, including four articles published in international journals indexed in Scopus, and he can apply for a position at St Petersburg University or other legal institutions in the city. Nikita Kuznetsov, Director of the Institute of Philosophy, talked to the wife. She has been trained as a lawyer, defended a dissertation in philosophy, worked as a psychologist and performed teacher training. She will also receive help with seeking a job at St Petersburg University or other universities and organisations in the city.

    Nikolay Kropachev noted that the University staff will also help other teachers from Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic requiring support.

    Application of demands and target values of the parameters related to publication activity

    At the Rector’s meeting on 21 March, the details of the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation on accounting for the indexation of publications of Russian scientists in the international databases and the participation in the scientific conferences abroad in 2022 were announced (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 21 March 2022). Order № 414 "Some issues on applying requirements and target values of indicators related to publication activity" published on 21 March 2022. It is slightly different from the project discussed at the Rector’s meeting.

    According to Anastasia Yarmosh, Acting Vice-Rector for Research, this order states that the requirements for the publications (publication activity) in journals and scientific journals indexed in international databases (information and analytical systems of international citation) (Web of Science, Scopus) as well as the requirements to target values of the indicators related to the stated publication activity shall not be applied till 31 December 2022 in the event of:

    • assessing the efficiency of science, research and technology, innovative and academic programmes and projects
    • taking measures of state support (providing grants, grants in the form of subsidies, subsidies from the federal budget) for research, technical and innovative programmes and projects as well as programmes and projects in the sphere of university education (in the part of such projects as the world-class centres, grants of the President of the Russian Federation, mega grants, grants of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation for supporting joint research with international organisations within the framework of implementing the programmes of bilateral and multilateral research and technical cooperation and other subsidies received following the competitions organised by the federal executive authorities)
    • assessing the results and efficiency of activity performed by public and autonomous institutions as well as other organisations and their management
    • assessing the efficiency of implementing milestones and events as well as the results and indicators of national and federal projects and state programmes of the Russian Federation

    The order also states that before 31 December 2022, the requirements shall not be applied towards the participation in international scientific conferences as well as towards the target values of the indicators related to publication activity following the results of the stated conferences, the assessment of the results of milestones and events as well as the results of national and federal projects, state programmes of the Russian Federation. At the same time, it is emphasised that the requirements and target values of the indicators related to publication activity shall be applied if such requirements are implemented. The target values are achieved before the date of the order publication on 21 March 2022.

    Unlike the draft of the order, the version approved on 19 March 2022 does not include non-application of requirements on the publications in journals indexed in Web of Science and Scopus (including the target values of the indicators related to publication activity) when assessing the results of the state order for research; on the assessment of the results and efficiency of the labour of staff in public and autonomous institutions; in the scientific qualification evaluation of students seeking academic degrees and titles.

    Anastasia Yarmosh shared the position of Valery Falkov, Minister of Science and Higher Education, (A moratorium is called on the indicators related to publications indexed in international databases) declared during the meeting with the rectors of universities. She stated that the moratorium on the indicators does not forbid publications in the Web of Science and Scopus journals. Thus, when concluding employment agreements following the competition results in 2022, it is suggested that the University keep the requirements on publications indexed in the Web of Science and Scopus while adding a possibility to publish in the journals from the State Commission for Academic Degrees and Titles.

    Due to the current geopolitical situation, the authors with Russian affiliation may be refused publication. The Ministry of Education and Science of Russia requests that such cases should be reported. The directors, deans and the chairpersons of scientific committees should inform the research and teaching staff about the need to send the materials confirming the refusal to be published based on the Russian affiliation of the author to the address of the Vice-Rector for Research. The information should be sent via e-mail to science@spbu.ru by 6 April 2022.

    The plan of St Petersburg University events aimed at supporting young researchers and attracting them to the implementation of high priority tasks in the scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation

    On 18 March, Order No 937/1р of Vice-Rector for Research approved the Plan of St Petersburg University events aimed at supporting young researchers and attracting them to the implementation of high priority tasks in the scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as the Plan). The events listed in the Plan are aimed at attracting, supporting, creating conditions for professional fulfilment and interdisciplinary cooperation of young scientists at St Petersburg University, as well as at forming the criteria of financial and administrative support to attract young scientists to the implementation of high priority tasks in the scientific and technical development of the Russian Federation including the search of new sources to fund research activity of young scientists on the part of industrial partners.

    According to Anastasia Yarmosh, Acting Vice-Rector for Research, it is planned that following the results of holding six events of the Plan in 2022 at St Petersburg University, a system of supporting young researchers will be formed. It will enable the researchers to form new interdisciplinary teams headed by young researchers, increasing the motivation of research supervisors.

    The following events will be held in accordance with the Plan:

    1. Developing the system of personal scholarships in the high priority fields of the scientific and technical development of the Russian Federation
    2. Extending the support system for promising projects and developments with commercial potential by young scientists ("SPbU Start-up")
    3. Organising and holding research events for students and young researchers to create conditions for exchanging experiences and presenting research results (round tables, workshops, conferences)
    4. Developing the system of teaching young researchers to perform project and grant activity: teaching academic writing, completing degree programmes with the disciplines aimed at learning about the project and fund-raising activity, developing the skills of submitting applications to various research funds and implementing fundamental and applied research based on grants and contracts
    5. Developing the programmes that support interdisciplinary projects by young researchers
    6. Stimulating aspirantura students to defend their candidate dissertations and perform research activity at the relevant level

    Directors and deans shall send proposals on the events of the Plan to the address of the Vice-Rector for Research (science@spbu.ru).

    Expert evaluations conducted by specialists from St Petersburg University

    In 2021, St Petersburg University conducted 290 expert evaluations in accordance with the state assignment. The analysis by type and subject matter has demonstrated the highest demand for linguistic expertise (58 %) and interdisciplinary expertise (21 %). There have also been submitted separate opinions on medical, historical, environmental, cultural, psychological research and legal reviews (the Expert University).

    The orders for the expert evaluations by St Petersburg University as part of the state assignment came from the federal judicial, executive and legislative authorities and the executive authorities of the two federal entities — St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. The legal reviews targeted nine federal and three regional draft laws and regulations. The environment impact assessment included a study of the natural ecosystem of the Kurgalsky Nature Reserve in the Leningrad Region. Specialists in the field of medicine examined claims of medical errors. Experts in psychology and sociology studied the factors that shape young people’s political outlook and behaviour.

    The expertise and scientific competencies of specialists from St Petersburg University made it possible to conduct 62 interdisciplinary evaluations that ensured comprehensive research in the interests of the governmental clients. The interdisciplinary evaluations integrated research in the field of humanities, natural and social sciences. Psychological and linguistic research accounted for the largest number of such evaluations (24).

    A considerable part of government-commissioned expert evaluations conducted by St Petersburg University involved evaluating information materials for extremist content. These evaluations have been requested by law enforcement and supervisory authorities. During the review period, they requested 207 expert reviews concerning extremist content in the information media. In 155 cases, experts from St Petersburg University concluded that the materials had exhibited signs of extremism. In 25% of enquiries, the university experts reported no evidence of illegal content.

    Such enquiries have most often concerned controversial texts that allegedly contained signs of incitement to hatred and hostility on the grounds of racial, national or social affiliation or signs that advocated exclusivity, superiority or inferiority on the grounds of a particular social, racial, national, religious or language community. For example, one of the review requests was to examine a media text for signs of inciting social, racial or religious hatred. The text described the events of the Second World War, with a particular focus on the attitude of Germans to the collaborators who had fought for the Third Reich in the Russian Liberation Army. The experts studied the submitted documents and concluded that they did not contain the elements alleged by the client. In doing so, the experts based their opinion on the fact that the text did not include the concepts of "race", "social group’ or ’religion".

    The law enforcement authorities have initiated and investigated eight criminal cases and 49 administrative proceedings based on the reviews prepared by the experts from St Petersburg University. Expert reviews have made it possible to restrict access to 227 electronic information resources containing extremist content. On the basis of 52 reports prepared by the experts from St Petersburg University, the law enforcement and supervisory authorities took decisions not to initiate criminal or administrative proceedings.

    One of the fundamental principles for the development of St Petersburg University as a leading expert institution is the principle of transparency and extensive publication of the research conducted by the University’s specialists. This general principle certainly extends to expert evaluations carried out as part of the state assignment. All expert opinions completed in 2021, subject to the restrictions imposed by the current legislation, have been published. Therefore, the University ensures maximum transparency and publicity of its expert reviews, conducted for the state authorities, to the extent established by the legal and regulatory framework.

    International activities of St Petersburg University

    At the recent Rector’s meetings, the participants reviewed the international activities of St Petersburg University (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 14 March 2022, 21 March 2022). Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, reported on a number of new events that took place last week.

    International Conference "Russia and Ukraine: an international outlook on the conflict"

    The international online conference "Russia and Ukraine: an international outlook on the conflict", organised by the Catholic University of La Plata (Argentina), took place on 25 March.

    The conference was attended by Argentine scholars: Mariano Caucino, lawyer, Professor of Modern History and Foreign Policy at the Catholic University of La Plata (UCALP), former Argentina’s Ambassador to Israel (2017–2019) and Costa Rica (2016–2017); Alberto Hutschenreuter, Professor of the National Foreign Service Institute (Argentina); Marcelo Montes, Professor in the Institute of the Foreign Service of the Nation (ISEN) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MREC), International Trade and Worship of Argentina. The experts from Russia included: Viktor Kheifets, Professor in the Department of Theory and History of International Relations at St Petersburg University; Stanislav Tkachenko, Professor in the Department of European Studies; and Artem Barynkin, Associate Professor in the Department of European Studies at St Petersburg University.

    During the conference, the experts from Argentina voiced their confidence that Russia will win the current conflict; according to Professor Marcelo Montes, ’Mr Putin will win because he cannot but win.’ They have also expressed their views on how events will unfold after the end of the operation in Ukraine, including, for example, whether Russia will participate in the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine. The experts have also considered the role of other powers, especially China, in the current events. Some speculations have been made regarding China, how it will benefit from the current situation and what part of the Russian market it will gain after the withdrawal of European and American companies.

    Professor Tkachenko analysed the consequences of the conflict for the parties and the main stakeholders in the conflict, such as the USA, China, the EU, India and Japan. Professor Barynkin argued that the current conflict is rooted in the US policy and the NATO expansion to the east. He presented convincing reasons why Russia couldn’t stand aside and not get involved in the conflict.

    Following the presentations, the participants held a question-and-answer session during which the students from the Catholic University of La Plata had a chance to pose questions to the speakers.

    Visit of a delegation from St Petersburg University to the Republic of Belarus

    During the visit, the delegation held negotiations with the head of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Minsk on the organisation of admission of citizens of Belarus to St Petersburg University. The visit resulted in a number of cooperation agreements with the Centre for the Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature Research of the National Academy of Sciences, the State Literary Museum of Yanka Kupala and Minsk Centralised System of State Public Libraries.

    Testing in Russian as  a foreign language in Greece

    The university of Ioannina in Greece continues a course in Russian as a foreign language.

    Cooperation between the Russian and Greek universities began in February 2020, when the first group of students began studying Russian as a foreign language. Now, it is the third group of students preparing to take the state test in May. The courses are attended by 150 students, professors and employees of the University of Ioannina, almost 40 of whom attended the courses at St Petersburg University last year. Faculty members, students and academic staff across various programmes, including medicine, information technology, archaeology, art, psychology, economics and speech therapy, have expressed their interest in learning Russian as a foreign language.

    This year, the specialists of the Language Testing Centre of St Petersburg University made the programme more intense, doubled the number of classes, and introduced various forms of interim assessment to evaluate the students’ progress and adjust the educational process. The course was also enhanced by recreational activities such as theme clubs and lectures about St Petersburg University.

    The project is supported by the Foreign Languages Centre at the University of Ioannina. St Petersburg University offers its expertise in online education to involve more people in the educational process.

    St Petersburg University museums and exhibitions in the Pushkin Card programme

    St Petersburg University has joined the Pushkin Card programme: the card can now be used to pay for entrance tickets to exhibitions and museum events at St Petersburg University (St Petersburg University has joined the Pushkin Card programme).

    Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector, explained that the Pushkin Card is a state programme to promote cultural activities among young people. It is a joint project of the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Digital Development and Pochta Bank (Post Bank) that grants the opportunity for young people (aged 14-22) to visit museums, theatres, cinemas, exhibitions, philharmonics and other cultural institutions for free. The programme is funded from the federal budget.

    Young people can apply for a virtual Pochta Bank card with a balance of 5,000 roubles. The card account will be replenished annually, but the money can only be spent on events approved by the Ministry of Culture. St Petersburg University joined the programme on 16 March.

    The information and technological interaction within the Pushkin Card programme between the Bank and St Petersburg University is conducted through the PRO.Kultura.RF platform (the platform of the Kultura. RF portal).

    The museums of St Petersburg University have registered on the platform "PRO.Kultura.RF" to participate in the events and activities of the cultural life of St Petersburg University, which are then covered on the portal of cultural heritage and traditions of Russia "Kultura.RF". Events and activities hosted by the museums of St Petersburg University undergo moderation to participate in the Pushkin Card programme. The platform also registers the technical parameters of the terminal access device used to access the Pushkin Card programme.

    To accept payments by Pushkin Card, the University introduced a specialised terminal access device (payment terminal) on the webpage of St Petersburg University payment service, which has been registered in the national payment system to accept exclusively Pushkin Cards in accordance with the rules of the Pushkin Card programme.

    To purchase a ticket to any of the University museums, select it from the list in the payment services of St Petersburg University and, after entering your data, tick the box "Pay by Pushkin card". The card details can be entered in the corresponding boxes when adding a regular card.

    All tickets paid for by the Pushkin Card are registered, so the cardholder may be asked to present proof of identity when visiting the museum. The programme rules prohibit purchasing tickets for another person. It is possible to attend the same event several times if you purchase a separate ticket each time.

    More information about the programme is available on the website Gosuslugi and the platform Kultura.RF.

    Contest for the design of the memorial sign to "The Lost Book"

    Following the Rector’s order, the library has continued its efforts to return books to their readers for more than ten years. Over these years, more than a million books have been returned to the library, including the library of the Saint Petersburg Imperial Society of Naturalists (Books that are no longer available in the Library of the Saint Petersburg Imperial Society of Naturalists) and the Library of the First Sociological Society.

    Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector, informed that, unfortunately, not all stolen, missing or unreturned books can be restored to the library collection. Moreover, a significant number of books from the library have been lost as a result of the criminal attitude of the University staff towards the storage, transportation and treatment of books.

    For example, the books stored in the basement of the Jeu de Paume building, upon the decision of the University administration, have repeatedly flooded as a result of heating system breakdowns and groundwater rising (Treatment room for books). Inspections of these library collections revealed that due to the violations of the temperature and humidity regime in the basement, 3,021 copies of books published between 1806 and 1946 had been completely destroyed (according to the act № 5206 on writing off excluded items from the library collection dated 19 December 2014) (’Why are books "sick"?’). Severe losses have also been discovered in the book collection of the Imperial Society of Naturalists, as well as in the Library of the Bestuzhev Courses, and in the newspaper collection to name just a few. (How we put an end to the chaos, Books that are no longer available in the Library of the Saint Petersburg Imperial Society of Naturalists).

    Thus, although more than a million volumes have been returned to readers over the years (8,240 books returned to the readers in 2021), it is impossible to say how many books were lost, destroyed or stolen from the library’s collections in the period from the early 1990s to 2008 due to a long period of negligence.

    Еlena Chernova added that in memory of lost valuable books, as a mark of respect for the selfless work of librarians who preserved and saved books, in order to publicly recognise the value of books as the primary source and medium of knowledge on the eve of the World Book and Copyright Day (celebrated on 23 April), it was decided to organise a competition to design a memorial sign to "The Lost Book".

    An order approving the rules for the competition for the design of the memorial sign will be issued shortly. The competition will be held in two stages, with the first stage scheduled for the end of July 2022 and the second stage to be completed in December 2022. The first phase will consist of evaluating submitted essays describing the idea of the memorial sign; the second phase will involve the evaluation of the memorial sign model produced with the help of design projecting tools.

    All university students, academic staff and other employees are invited to take part in the competition. The jury will be composed of research and academic staff from the Faculty of Arts, and will also include staff from the M. Gorky Scientific Library of St Petersburg University.

    The memorial sign is to be constructed on the territory of the main campus on Vasilievsky Island. Funding for the memorial sign will be provided courtesy of a donation from the LSR Group (LSR Construction Company), negotiations being held with Andrei Molchanov, Chief Executive Officer of the LSR Group and member of the Board of Trustees of St Petersburg University.

    Apologies for an error in published information

    In publishing the response to the question in the Virtual Reception ’Is it true that the University reports the statements of its lecturers to the police?’ a technical error was made in referring to the name of a distinguished faculty member who was not involved in the complaint to law enforcement agencies (Is it true that the University reports the statements of its lecturers to the police?). The error has been corrected, and an apology has been made to the lecturer (On the appeal of a lecturer on the legality of actions of another lecturer).