Minutes of the Rector's Meeting

No. 520
11.04.2022

    Vaccination against COVID-19

    The meeting participants considered the information on the process of vaccination against COVID-19 among the University staff and students. As of 11 April, the general number of research and teaching staff with vaccination, antibodies or medical exemptions is 4,548, which makes 91.1 % (with the general number of research and teaching staff amounting to 4,993). The general number of administrative staff with vaccination, antibodies or medical exemptions is 5,320, which makes 92 % (with the general number of administrative staff amounting to 5,776). Thus, the general percentage of the University employees with vaccination, antibodies or medical exemptions is 91.6 %.

    It was noted that lifting certain limitations related to the pandemic does not replace the need for the teachers, administrative staff and students to get vaccinated and revaccinated against COVID-10 in a timely manner. Although the infection rate has decreased, the risks of contracting the disease still exist.

    According to Order № 4430/1 dated 29 April 2021 "On informing about the cases of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and vaccination against coronavirus infection (COVID-19) by the students of St Petersburg University (with amendments and changes)", the University students have to inform about receiving a full cycle of vaccination against the coronavirus infection (COVID-19) by filling in the application form "Providing the information on vaccination against COVID-19" in the Student’s Personal Account and indicating the name of the vaccine. The information is accumulated in the "Students" Information System.

    As of 11 April, the percentage of of-age vaccinated students who provided certificates of past disease or medical exemptions is 42.31 %. A small growth of vaccinated students is found only in seven student teams at the Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes, the Faculty of Political Science, the Institute of Earth Sciences, the Institute for Cognitive Studies, the Institute for Competition Development and Antimonopoly Regulation. No changes in the number of vaccinated students were reported on the part of the bachelor’s programme in "Physical Training". The percentage of vaccinated students shows a visible decrease in other teams of students. The percentage of vaccinated students in the Graduate School of Journalism and Mass Communication is less than 25 %. In general, the entire body of students at St Petersburg University demonstrates a decrease of 1.04 % in the percentage of vaccinated people within a month.

    The information on vaccination against COVID-19’ among students is presented in the table below.

    Area of study

    Of-age students with vaccination, past disease certificates or medical exemption certificates

    as of 4 March 2022

    as of 8 April 2022

    Biology

    52.65 %

    49.93 %

    Asian and African Studies

    69.07 %

    65.9 %

    Graduate School of Journalism and Mass Communication

    24.38 %

    23.67 %

    Institute of History

    42.59 %

    40.37 %

    Institute for Cognitive Studies

    42.11 %

    44.44 %

    Institute of Earth Sciences

    47.91 %

    47.97 %

    Institute of Pedagogy

    47 %

    46.46 %

    Institute for Competition Development and Antimonopoly Regulation

    91.67 %

    83.33 %

    Institute of Philosophy

    44.58 %

    43.1 %

    Institute of Chemistry

    69.2 %

    66.6 %

    Arts

    42.19 %

    41.32 %

    Mathematics and Computer Science

    51.68 %

    47.82 %

    Mathematics and Mechanics

    45.37 %

    44.71 %

    Medicine

    53.75 %

    52.08 %

    Medical College

    60 %

    64.15 %

    International Relations

    40.78 %

    39.23 %

    Management

    42.66 %

    42.46 %

    Political Science

    36.09 %

    36.59 %

    Control Processes

    41.94 %

    43.15 %

    Psychology

    43.14 %

    40.74 %

    Liberal Arts and Sciences

    47.68 %

    46.32 %

    Sociology

    36.33 %

    35.91 %

    Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies

    44.42 %

    43.84 %

    Physics

    55.24 %

    56.19 %

    Physical Training (bachelor’s programme)

    76.19 %

    76.19 %

    Physical Training (non-university level higher education, excluding under age students)

    42.23 %

    41.71 %

    Philology

    49.13 %

    47.44 %

    Economics

    29.81 %

    29.41 %

    Law

    36.25 %

    35.88 %

    Total

    43.35 %

    42.31 %

    The students were urged once again to treat vaccination with responsibility. The heads of the academic and research subdivisions should continue educating students about vaccination.

    According to Piotr Yablonsky, Vice-Rector for Medical Activities, vaccination and revaccination of staff and students at St Petersburg University will be organised with the help of mobile vaccination teams as soon as the information on the number of people and desired vaccination dates is available from the Academic Affairs Department and the Human Resources Department. Requests and appointment cards for vaccination are processed by the Academic Affairs Department.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Last week, the Virtual Reception received seven enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Eight enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register. The inquiries covered various topics, including the following: Publication of expulsion orders; Procedure of calculating grade point average and taking it into account when distributing the elective courses.

    According to Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, a parent of a student of Psychology turned to her with a question about the timeline of transferring all classes to on-campus format. In response to this request, it was clarified that the timetable in all academic programmes on the date of starting the classes in the spring term in the 2021/2022 academic year was created on the basis of all by-laws of St Petersburg University and requirements of the state authorities on organising the academic process in view of COVID-19 preventive measures.

    To avoid mixing academic groups, cohort classes and classes in elective courses were held with the help of information and communication technologies. Since the degree programme curricula in the field of Psychology provide for a large number of elective courses, the percentage of on-campus classes has been 28.21 % since the beginning of the term. Taking into account the Regulation of the Government of St Petersburg № 163 dated 2 March 2022 "On amendments to Regulation № 121 dated 13 March 2020" and based on the proposal from Alla Shaboltas, Dean of the Faculty of Psychology, and other heads of academic and research subdivisions, Order № 1893/1 dated 4 March 2022 ’On the validity of Order 7991/1 dated 13 August 2021 "On the format of academic classes in the 2021/2022 academic year" starting 7 March 2022’ was issued. It prescribed a hybrid format of academic classes and interim assessment for degree programmes in the field of Psychology starting 7 March 2022.

    The percentage of on-campus classes in the field of Psychology increased, reaching 46.33 % in March and 49,49 % in April. The process of increasing the share of on-campus classes requires time and certain reorganisation of the academic process, since some teachers are involved in holding classes in various fields and giving classes in person in various buildings of St Petersburg University changes their schedule significantly. Many teachers work part-time or provide services under contractual agreements having different permanent employment. In this regard, any changes in the timetables should be agreed upon in advance to avoid overlaps and cancellations.

    The staff of the Academic Affairs Department continuously provide for a fast and smooth transition to on-campus classes taking into account technical and organisational possibilities. The number of on-campus classes will continue to grow.

    According to the majority of the research and academic subdivisions, the classes are held following the timetable in due order.

    According to the Dean of the School of International Relations, on 3 April 2022, she received a request for help from a second-year student, a resident of Ukraine. The validity of his international passport expires, and he is not able to travel back to replace it for objective reasons.

    The Deputy Rector for Security contacted the student and proposed possible solutions. One of the options is to submit documents (notification) for migration registration at the place of stay to the Migration Office of the Department of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Petrodvortsovy District of St Petersburg every 90 days with the support of St Petersburg University. The prolongation will be performed in cycles until the geopolitical situation stabilises.

    The international student accepted the proposal and will provide the required documents to the staff at the passport and visa subdivision at St Petersburg University within the stated time period (no later than 20 working days before the expiration date of the current migration registration). The student is in touch with the University staff. The situation is under control.

    The meetings with the students (representatives of the student councils, student scientific societies and group leaders) were not held by some directors, while many subdivisions held such meetings.

    At the meeting between the students and the Dean of the Mathematics and Mechanics Faculty, it was announced that due to various complaints from students on the quality of education, the classes with the use of information and communication will be recorded. The records will be kept in a special storage space and used when questions on the quality of education, attendance and incidents arise. The participants also discussed a request from a student on reconsidering the examination results. It was reported at the Rector’s meeting on 4 April 2022.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning and other issues were discussed at the meetings with the representatives of the student councils, student scientific societies and group leaders at the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Sociology, the College of Physical Training and Sports, Economics and Technology (the minutes were not recorded and published), the Faculty of Philology (the minutes were not recorded and published), the Faculty of Foreign Languages, and the Institute of Philosophy.

    The meetings were held with the students and heads of the Institute of History, the Institute of Earth Sciences, the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies, and the Faculty of Economics.

    Developing the system of non-degree programmes

    In the current year, the portfolio of non-degree programmes at St Petersburg University has about 750 programmes, including 580 professional advanced training programmes. The list of programmes is constantly updated. The annual growth is about 70-100 new programmes (10 %), while outdated and non-demanded programmes are closed.

    According to Elvira Zeletdinova, Vice-Rector for Teaching Methods, in the past two years, the number of programmes implemented with the use of remote educational technologies fully or partially has reached 60 % (Blackboard and MS Teams are actively used); a hybrid format of implementing non-degree programmes has been introduced combining on-campus and online formats with the use of information and communication technologies in one group of students.

    New programmes are developed:

    • following the initiative of the research and teaching staff (the representatives of medical specialities are the most active ones — 16 programmes)
    • within the framework of academic programmes (for example, in the "International cooperation in the field of nuclear education" project by the Rosatom corporation)
    • based on the order from universities (for example, a programme of professional retraining in "Bioinformatics", and a programme of advanced training in "International law and comparative law of the leading countries of the Asia-Pacific Region" and other programmes were created for Sakhalin State University)
    • based on the orders from corporate partners: St Petersburg Power Supply Company, Gazprominvest, Bank of Russia

    About a quarter of non-degree programmes are developed based on the orders from customers.

    To develop the portfolio of academic programmes at St Petersburg University, a system of advancing qualifications was developed. It consists of the modules of short non-degree programmes (from 16 hours) in general (management) competencies for top managers, and mid-level managers, as well as the modules of industry-based and professional competencies for specialists that can be offered to interested companies. Every manager and specialist in the industry can build an individual track for advanced training selecting those programmes and modules that are necessary for his or her professional development. The timeline and order of modules can be selected individually. All the completed non-degree programmes are summed up to the level of professional retraining. At the same time, the institution has an opportunity to increase the qualification of the entire team of managers and specialists.

    To form manager competencies as part of the advanced training for top and mid-level managers, the University offers training in the form of internships on the basis of offices and services at St Petersburg University. For example, the M Gorky Scientific Library, can host trainees in the field of Library Studies. The office of expositions and collections can host trainees in the field of Museum Studies. When developing a non-degree programme, academic classes and internships can be successfully combined.

    In accordance with this approach, a block of proposals for specialists in a specific field is formed. Such proposals were prepared for the Committee for the Physical Education and Sport and the Committee for Culture in St Petersburg.

    Elvira Zeletdinova noted that St Petersburg University proposed an initiative on organising advanced training for university teachers in the CIS countries in a wide range of disciplines in the field of Humanities, Sociology and Economics. These proposals are systematised, offering modules in modern methods and forms of education as well as modules in a specific subject enabling university teachers from the CIS countries (including Russia) to build an individual track of advanced training. In doing so, St Petersburg University forms a group with the representatives of various universities, who signed up for the same module.

    Implementing non-degree programmes in the format of summer and winter schools is popular among international participants. This is a successful practice of attracting international students to the University master’s programmes taught in English. Taking into account the current situation, directors and deans proposed opening 11 new non-degree programmes in the format of summer and winter schools. For example, the "Crisis business communications in view of digital and ESG challenges" programme. The programme is aimed at international bachelor’s and master’s students in the field of communications, journalism, marketing, PR, and management, as well as specialists working in these spheres. The programme is designed for the students from the BRICS countries, post-Soviet space (mainly Central Asia) and the students from Eastern Asia and the Far East.

    Currently, non-degree programmes on the bases of the University online courses are actively developed. Such programmes will have the form of non-degree programmes on the condition that the students pass the final assessment.

    In accordance with the tasks of network cooperation promotion, on the one hand, and non-degree education, on the other hand, St Petersburg University has established a new format of taking part in joint academic programmes with regional partner-universities in the form of non-degree programmes. For example, St Petersburg University concluded an agreement with Petrozavodsk State University enabling the students in the Republic of Korea to study at the University non-degree programme "Modern Financial Technologies and Risk Management" that will become a part of their degree programme.

    Elvira Zeletdinova added that to further develop, update and modernise non-degree programmes, directors and deans should take the lead in organising the activity of the research and teaching staff specialising in specific areas. The qualification requirements change extremely fast in the modern world. Thus, the response to the requests for advanced training should also be rapid. Elvira Zeletdinova underscored that the University can offer comprehensive systems of advanced training based on the ‘team’ principle to strategic partners. Such systems will not only meet the requests, but also form a broader perspective on the advanced training possibilities based on the wide range of options at St Petersburg University. Successful implementation of non-degree programmes at St Petersburg University can be provided only due to joint work between the representatives of academic and research subdivisions, the University services and teachers actively involved in developing and implementing non-degree programmes.

    The responsibility of every participant in this process, including the developers and research supervisors, is determined in the Regulation on developing and implementing non-degree programmes at St Petersburg University approved by Order № 7272/1 dated 28 June 2019. The difficulties emerging in the process of developing and implementing non-degree programmes should be resolved jointly by the staff of the University services, heads of teams in the academic and research subdivisions, directors of non-degree programme centres and research supervisors.

    1. At the stage of launching and re-registering non-degree programmes (with the goal of updating the programmes), the research supervisors of non-degree programmes should provide in a timely manner the information on the planned changes in the academic and teaching methodology documents for re-approval, possible change in the programme cost for the next academic year and anticipated timeline (timetable) of the programme implementation in the next academic year
    2. When registering a non-degree programme, a clear academic schedule should be developed in advance (start and completion of the programme, number of classes per week, duration of one class, format) for the academic and calendar year to plan to announce the application process for the non-degree programme and concluding agreements with corporate partners
    3. When launching a non-degree programme, a developer or a potential director should analyse and provide the information on the target audience for conducting a promotional campaign in order to attract interested students
    4. The information on the non-degree programme to prepare promotional materials and publish them on the website should be provided to the staff at the University offices and services in a timely manner. The description of the programme in the academic and teaching methodology documentation is not suitable for promotional materials that require more accessible abstracts and texts
    5. The team of teachers should be determined in a timely manner to organise the academic process. Thus, the heads of programmes, together with the heads of the academic and research subdivisions, should provide proposals in a timely manner on the candidates to teach in the non-degree programmes and take an active part in solving problems in case of an urgent teacher replacement. This issue is especially relevant in the case of attracting teachers under civil law agreements. Such agreements should be concluded in due manner and time well in advance before the start of the programme

    Elvira Zeletdinova emphasised that the timeline of developing non-degree programmes for the next academic year is determined by Order № 11347/1 dated 24 November 2021, "On preparing to implement non-degree programmes in the new academic year".

    It should also be taken into account that employment agreements for the heads of the academic and research subdivisions should include provisions for organising the work on the systematic development of continuous education, including non-degree programmes, with the goal to significantly increase the number of students. They also include requirements on the annual increase in the number of implemented non-degree programmes and the number of students in various fields.

    Scholarships were assigned to the finalists of the SPbU Start-up contest 2022

    A traditional contest of interdisciplinary projects of the University students "SPbU Start-up 2022"continues at St Petersburg University. The team can receive 350,000 roubles for the first place, 250,000 roubles — for the second place and 150,000 roubles for the third place. Besides, the finalists who decide to open a small innovative enterprise at St Petersburg University will receive grants in the amount of 1 million and 700,000 roubles from the University Endowment Fund.

    On 24 February, a meeting of the contest expert council devoted to the second stage (semi-finals) took place. Sixteen teams went on to the second stage, but only eight of them were selected by the expert jury and will meet in the final stage of the contest on 24 May. They include the following: NuMa (Nuclear Matrix); Lingvera; DoctorYura; DoctorScript; trash to treasure ("turn trash into treasure"); Modular platform on the basis of convertaplane; RoboKorr; U-stat. Detailed information on the team-finalists and their projects can be found on the website of St Petersburg University.

    The teams include 35 students (26 bachelor’s programme students, including one student with mixed attendance mode, one specialist’s programme student, seven master’s students, and one doctoral student). In accordance with the contest conditions, all finalists receive scholarships from the foundation of target capital management, "St Petersburg University Development" (Endowment Foundation), in the amount of 10,000 roubles per month from March to May 2022. The order was issued on 28 March. The sum of the scholarship foundation amounted to 1,050,000 roubles.

    The meeting participants congratulated the contest finalists and wished them success in the final stage and further project implementation.

    Open international Olympiad "Petropolitan Science (Re)Search" at St Petersburg University among students and young specialists

    Since the 2016/2017 academic year, St Petersburg University has been holding an open international Olympiad among students and young professionals called "Petropolitan Science (Re)Search". Students and university graduates can take part in the Olympiad.

    In the 2021/2022 academic year, the Olympiad is conducted in the following 17 fields:

    • Mathematics
    • Fundamental Mechanics
    • Computational Technologies (Fundamental informatics and information technologies)
    • Physics
    • International Tournament in Natural Sciences
    • Earth Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Economics and Finances
    • Urban Development (Management)
    • Social Sciences (Sociology and Social Work)
    • Political Science
    • International Relations
    • Pedagogy
    • Philology
    • Linguistics
    • Interdisciplinary Research (Arts and the Humanities)
    • Art History

    In the majority of fields, the Olympiad includes two stages: the preliminary stage and the final stage. The preliminary stage is held in a remote mode. The Olympiad involves various tasks as part of the preliminary and final stages:

    • conducting research with a further public defence of the research results during the final stage
    • written tests (solving problems, performing test tasks)

    The format of tasks is selected depending on the field. It enables the jury to assess the knowledge and skills of the participants in a more precise way.

    The final stage of the Olympiad is held in person with the use of distance learning technologies. Public defence of the research presented at the preliminary stage is held in the format of audio and video conference. Solving problems in writing is organised in a system designed by St Petersburg University to hold Olympiads remotely with the use of online invigilation technologies.

    The results of the Olympiad are taken into account during the admission process to St Petersburg University to study in the master’s and doctoral programmes. The finalists and prize winners of the Olympiad can receive up to 100 additional points for personal achievements depending on the chosen field of study.

    The forms of supporting Petropolitan Science (Re)Search methodologically include lectures consultation in an online format in the fields of the Olympiad, within which the research and teaching staff at St Petersburg University explain the tasks and special characteristics of holding the Olympiad.

    In the 2021/2022 academic year, following the results of assessing the University application, for the second year in a row, the Petropolitan Science (Re)Search Olympiad has been included in the list of events to provide for grants from the President of the Russian Federation to the persons, who enter master’s programmes at educational and research organisations. This list was approved by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. The award winners of the Olympiad, who were enrolled on master’s programmes, can apply for grants from the President of the Russian Federation and receive 20,000 roubles every month. The list of events eligible for grants to support students in master’s programmes is approved by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation on an annual basis.

    Following Order № 3456/1 dated 7 April 2022 "On holding the final stage of the Petropolitan Science (Re)Search open international Olympiad of St Petersburg University among students and young specialists in the 2021/2022 academic year", the initially approved schedule of the Olympiad final stage has been amended, which allows for holding the final stage in the field of ‘Mathematics’ on the date different from the date of a final contest of the Championship in Computer Programming "ICPC Northern Eurasia Regionals 2021" that involves the participants of the Olympiad in the field of "Mathematics". The information on changing the date is published on the website of St Petersburg University in the section devoted to the Olympiad.

    Measures adopted by the Government Commission to increase the sustainability of the Russian economy

    In view of the need for additional support for science in the current situation, Andrey Omelchuk, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, presented a set of non-financial measures adopted by the Government Commission to increase the sustainability of the Russian economy; financial measures agreed upon by the working group to increase the sustainability of the financial and economic system; financial measures agreed upon by the working group to counteract the negative effects of unlawful restrictions imposed on the country by unfriendly states; measures developed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, and system-wide measures.

    The participants of the Rector’s meeting have been informed of the adopted measures.

    1. Non-financial measures adopted by the Government Commission to increase the economic sustainability of the Russian Federation
      1. Relaxing the requirements for grants to organisations implementing innovative projects or end beneficiaries of state funding as regards:
        • conditions for attracting extra budgetary funding
        • submitting mandatory reporting on the use of grant funds
        • amending the approved plans (programmes) of innovative projects
        • terms and conditions for returning the grant issued before 1 March 2022 should the results specified in the grant remain unattained

          This measure is expected to reduce the risk of failure to deliver results, reduce the financial burden on organisations/recipients of state funding as regards suspension/deferral of fines, and lessen the bureaucratic burden in terms of reporting.
      2. Suspension of the requirement to have publications in foreign scientific journals listed in Web of Science or Scopus when implementing federal projects, education and research programmes, and government research assignments in 2022 (in accordance with Government Regulation № 414 dated 19 March 2022). This measure is expected to remove penalties in case of failure to meet the declared targets, to increase the number of publications in national journals, and to improve the competitiveness of national scientific journals
      3. Simplified admission to Russian higher education institutions for students expelled from foreign universities (Government Regulation № 434 on "Approval of admission procedure to higher education programmes with state accreditation, aspiratura programmes (or military aspirantura programmes) in 2022", dated 21 March 2022). This measure is expected to enable admission to the first-year course of studies, transfer to the second and subsequent courses of studies in the academic year 2022/23 of Russian citizens who formerly resided in the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, and Ukraine; Russian citizens expelled from foreign universities; citizens of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, and Ukraine; foreign citizens residing in the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, and Ukraine without citizenship
    2. Financial measures agreed upon by the working group to counteract the negative effects of unlawful restrictions imposed on the country by unfriendly states in the economic sphere
      1. Increase in the number of government-funded places for master’s programmes in priority areas of scientific and technological development (full-time programmes). This measure is expected to enable at least 30,000 people to continue their studies in master’s programmes. A total of 4.364 billion roubles have been earmarked for this purpose
      2. Expanding the programme for the provision of housing certificates to young scientists in 2022. It is planned to issue 259 certificates for the purchase of the residential property. A total of one billion roubles have been earmarked for this purpose
    3. Measures developed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation
      1. Approval of a draft regulation to enable operational procurement (non-financial measure). This measure is intended to allow for the procurement of goods, works and services from a single supplier (contractor, executor) and to improve the mechanism for estimating the initial (maximum) price of government contracts
      2. Launch of the federal project "Development of national scientific instrumentation" (financial measure). This measure is expected to result in the production of at least 42 new scientific instruments in the Russian Federation in 2024. A total of eight billion roubles have been earmarked for this purpose
      3. Creation of new scientific laboratories for young scientists pursuing research in the most advanced fields of science (financial measure). This measure is expected to create an additional 150 new laboratories for young scientists. A total of 2.68 billion roubles have been earmarked for this purpose
    4. System-wide measures
      1. Implementation of an import substitution programme for components (within the budget allocations of the relevant government programmes)
      2. Removing liability for parallel imports of products under the nomenclature in accordance with the procedure established by the Government of the Russian Federation (including approval of the relevant list of goods/commodity groups)
      3. Simplification and acceleration of budget procedures to increase the flexibility of reallocating federal budget (regional budgets) funds without amending the budget law
      4. Extending the deadlines for projects subsidised from the federal budget by two years without imposing penalties established by such agreements until the end of 2023
      5. Clarification of requirements (in terms of their simplification) for the provision of subsidies, including grants in the form of subsidies, to legal entities, individual entrepreneurs, and individual producers of goods, works, and services

    A total of 12 measures to support science and education have been envisaged, including four non-financial and eight financial measures (with total funding of 27.167 billion roubles).

    Procedure in case of receiving a refusal to publish research articles

    International journals, including those indexed by the Web of Science (WOS) and Scopus databases, international conference organising committees, have been rejecting publications of research papers for political reasons/because of Russian affiliation. Information regarding refusals of this kind was presented at the Rector’s meeting held on 28 March 2022 (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 28 March 2022).

    The Vice-Rector for Research has received seven notices of such refusals: from the organising committee of the EURAM 2022 Annual Conference (Switzerland, 15-17 June 2022), from the editorial board of the Eastern European Scientific Journal, from the editorial board of the Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical, from the editorial board of the German Chemical Society (Deutsche Bunsen-Gesellschaft), from Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT /University of Applied Sciences (Finland), from the organising committee of CMM-SolMech 2022 conference (Poland, 5-8 September 2022), from the organising committee of International Congress of Criminal Sciences (Lithuania).

    St Petersburg University finds such behaviour by representatives of the international scientific community unacceptable and shall defend the interests of its employees. In each case of rejection, the University intends to issue formal complaints to the relevant publishers and conference organising committees regarding the rejection, and will take other measures to restore the rights of the University’s employees.

    In case of rejection of a publication on political grounds, the employees of St Petersburg University should notify the Vice-Rector for Research by sending an email and attaching the supporting materials to science@spbu.ru.

    The Regulation on highly cited researchers is approved

    Order № 3198/1 dated 4 April 2022, approved the Regulation on Highly Cited Researchers. It aims to attract highly-qualified researchers whose professional achievements could contribute to the implementation of St Petersburg University Strategic Plan 2021-2030 to work at St Petersburg State University.

    Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, explained that highly cited researchers include specialists whose professional achievements have been recognised by their inclusion in the register annually prepared by Clarivate analytics on the basis of the Web of Science database (Highly Cited Researchers list from Clarivate, the HCR Register). Based on the latest HCR Register, the Vice-Rector for Research at St Petersburg University shall make the decision regarding the eligibility to be classified as a Highly Cited Researcher at St Petersburg University.

    The measures of support for highly cited researchers include:

    • conclusion of an employment contract for a period of up to three years, with the possibility of extension (monthly remuneration in the amount of 560,000 roubles per month subject to the annually formed payroll)
    • allocation of premises for laboratory research
    • compensation of publication costs
    • priority access to the available scientific and technical resources of St Petersburg University
    • priority administrative support when organising scientific seminars, workshops and conferences
    • organisational support for administrative activities, including through the introduction of an appropriate specialist position in the staff list

    The highly cited researcher undertakes to indicate affiliation with St Petersburg University in the HCR Register; submit at least five Q1 and three Q2 articles to be published in journals indexed by the Web of Science CC scientometric database on an annual basis (all publications shall be affiliated with St Petersburg University); generate at least 6 million roubles annually from external funding sources; stay and work at St Petersburg University for at least six months a year for foreign citizens and six months a year for Russian citizens.

    The employment contract with a highly qualified researcher can be extended for a new term provided that this researcher remains on the updated HCR Register and fulfils the obligations set out in the Regulation.

    Igor Tikhonovich, Dean of the Faculty of Biology, inquired about the reason for setting such a high bar for highly qualified researchers — eight articles in first and second quartile journals each year. Sergey Mikushev explained that the main requirement for researchers is to be included in the Register of HCR, which does not include any researcher with less than eight articles published per year (one or two articles will not produce a high citation rate). If a researcher has fewer articles and a sufficiently high citation rate, the requirements set out in the order might be modified.

    St Petersburg University suggests replacing the SWIFT system with an international system of exchanging financial communications based on the distributed ledger technology (blockchain)

    The decision to exclude a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT system indicates the high risks associated with its use. Regardless of whether Russian banks will be reconnected to SWIFT in the future, the mere fact that it has been disabled makes the regulator an unreliable partner with unpredictable behaviour even if there are legally binding agreements, and poses a threat to the interbank settlement system as a whole.

    In 2015, Russia developed its own system for Russian banks. An alternative to SWIFT also exists in other countries. Each system uses blockchain technology to improve security, but cannot resolve the issue of mutual credibility of all participants because of the affiliation of the regulator to one or more countries.

    St Petersburg University is ready to offer a solution. Dmitrii Shishmakov, Head of the Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre of St Petersburg University, Acting Deputy Senior Vice-Rector for Commercialisation, Head of the Marketing Department of St Petersburg University, explained that a financial messaging system based on blockchain, which would act as an independent and unbiased regulator, could provide a solution. The technology is designed to decentralise the financial system. Dmitrii Shishmakov pointed out that the Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre at St Petersburg University had begun work on a decentralised international interbank messaging system.

    All nodes in the system (a common database containing a copy of all transactions) shall be located in each member country. In this case, each participant becomes a holder of transactional information and co-owner of the system as a whole, which completely eliminates the risk of unauthorised exclusion from the system (whereby a participating bank may reject payments addressed to it). Distributed ledger technologies, in particular blockchain, guarantee access to the system, the security of transactions and the openness of the information system.

    Dmitrii Shishmakov noted that the organisation selected by the participants would only act as a technical operator, but not as a controller who would determine who should be connected to the system and who should not.

    This solution would provide all banking agents with a new tool that would allow them to exchange financial messages securely without fear of repercussions, and would give states greater autonomy.

    Distributed Ledger Technologies Centre at St Petersburg University was established in 2018 as part of the National Technology Initiative (NTI). The specialists of the Centre develop software solutions using blockchain technology for the financial and energy sectors, education, public authorities, logistics and independent control of moving objects (Latest news from the Distributed Ledger Technology Centre).

    The Centre has all the competences necessary to build this system. However, the scale of the task requires the involvement of organisations and experts from different fields. The Centre invites applications to participate in the joint implementation of the project as part of a joint consortium established by the Centre and the non-commercial partnership RUSSOFT. Applications shall be submitted to: dltc@spbu.ru

    The participants of the meeting also mentioned the use of electronic communication systems to conduct online meetings of the Academic Council of St Petersburg University. During the secret ballot, the Council has used the application "CryptoVeche", an electronic voting system developed at St Petersburg University. The software, purchased from St Petersburg University, has been effectively used by more than a hundred Russian organisations from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, and the number of applicants is still growing.

    International activity of St Petersburg University

    At the recent Rector’s meetings, the participants have reviewed the international activities of St Petersburg University (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 14 March 2022; Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 21 March 2022; Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 28 March 2022; Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 4 April 2022). Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, reported on a number of new events that took place last week.

    St Petersburg University holds a competition for students to participate in academic mobility programmes in 2022/23. Following two rounds of competition (the results of the final third round will be available after April 13), the University selected 68 students, the majority of whom will attend East Asian universities: the Republic of Korea (10 students), the People’s Republic of China (15 students). The arrangements with the universities in these countries have not changed given the current situation, and all financial commitments (subject to availability) have been honoured.

    Japan has opened its borders to students since the spring semester of 2022; ten students are planning to study at Japanese universities during this semester; 24 students will go to study in the autumn semester of 2022/23. Partner universities in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia), Iran and Turkey, and universities in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay) have also indicated their willingness to accept students from St Petersburg University.

    Although some European universities have temporarily suspended cooperation with St Petersburg University, a number of partner universities from Austria, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia and France have expressed their willingness to continue cooperation and support student exchanges, despite the challenges of the current international situation. For example, the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy) has sent an official letter of commitment to continue cooperation and develop student exchanges with St Petersburg University. The colleagues emphasise the high value of the partnership between the two universities in their letters.

    Even though the universities of the UK have informed that, due to the difficult situation, they are temporarily suspending the enrolment of their students in Russian universities, they will be happy to accept students from St Petersburg University (letters from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Chichester).

    Over the past week, the University has held a number of international events.

    Online exhibitions at St Petersburg University supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in the Russian Federation

    On 6 April, St Petersburg University, with the assistance of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in the Russian Federation, opened an online exhibition dedicated to traditional Turkish dress. Exhibits presented in the first exhibition — "Dilemma. Traditional and Modern"— reflect the traditions of Turkish national dress, many elements of which have been lost or in disuse. Dr Emine Koca, Professor at Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University, spoke about the changes in traditional Turkish dress throughout history. Dr Koca is convinced that such studies promote cultural awareness of the customs and traditions of the people, their beliefs and lifestyle. The Turks managed to preserve their ancestral traditions, which had been formed long before they came to Anatolia. Eventually, traditional dress forms changed and became a significant element of traditional Turkish culture.

    The second lecture in the series on Turkish dress will take place on 13 April. It will look at the history of a wedding dress in the Ottoman Empire and will be held to coincide with the opening of an exhibition of traditional felting clothes in a modern interpretation. The lecture will be delivered by Fatma Koç, Professor of Arts and Design at Haci Bayram Veli University.

    Agreements with academic institutions in the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic

    The agreement signed with Donetsk National Technical University, includes the following areas of cooperation:

    a) implementation of joint research projects 

    b) organisation of joint educational and scientific events, courses, conferences, seminars, symposia and lectures 

    c) academic and scientific exchange 

    d) exchange of students 

    e) exchange of bibliographic materials and other information of mutual interest 

    f) implementation of joint educational initiatives, including the development and implementation of academic programmes

    St Petersburg University is currently negotiating a cooperation agreement and a protocol on academic and scientific exchange with Lugansk State Pedagogical University.

    Implementation of academic programmes in a network format together with international partners

    St Petersburg University has received a proposal from Qingdao University (the People’s Republic of China) to develop and implement a joint master’s programme, ‘Mathematical Methods and Artificial Intelligence Methods for Digital Economy’, in the form of a network. The University has established a working group to produce teaching materials and programme specification and a draft agreement based on the template agreement for implementing an academic programme in a network format recommended by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation and approved by the by-law of St Petersburg University to enable admission to the programme in 2023.

    Representative Office of St Petersburg University in Spain

    On 5 April at 7pm Moscow time, the Spanish representative office of St Petersburg University held an online lecture "Anna Akhmatova, Amedeo Modigliani, Nikolay Gumilyov" in the framework of the lecture cycle ‘The story of one love’. The lecture was delivered by Anna Silyunas, a theatre reviewer, art critic, and General Director of the House of Russia in Barcelona.

    Russian House in Mongolia holds the test of Russian as a foreign language

    Since 4 April, St Petersburg University and the Russian House in Ulaanbaatar have been holding the national test in Russian as a foreign language for learners and specialists in the Russian language in Mongolia. More than 100 people from different cities of the country participated in the first session. On weekdays, the test is conducted online on the University platform. At weekends, specialists in the Russian language are tested in-person at the Russian House in Ulaanbaatar. Before the test, the participants attended a preparatory course. By the end of the year, about 500 specialists are expected to have taken the test.

    Testing in Oriental languages

    Following the initiative of the Rector of St Petersburg University, the Language Testing Centre has been conducting certification in oriental languages for several years. The participants in the Rector’s meeting reviewed the most recent results.

    The Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), conducted in cooperation with the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, was held at St Petersburg University on 10 April. The test session was attended by 417 participants.

    St Petersburg University also registers applicants for the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK), administered by the University in cooperation with the Confucius Institute. More than 150 candidates have already registered for the upcoming examination. The previous test session on 26 March was attended by 100 people. There is a growing interest in the HSK exam. The major advantage of St Petersburg University is that in addition to the written HSK exam, the University offers the Chinese Proficiency Spoken Test (HSKK). It attracts learners and specialists in the Chinese language from all over the Leningrad Region.

    The University has completed registration for the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which the University has been administering since 2019 with the assistance of the Consulate General of Japan in St Petersburg. The next session at St Petersburg University will take place on 3 July. The exam will be attended by 775 participants.

    As a result of the systematic work of St Petersburg University in the field of certification testing in Oriental languages, there is a steady interest in the examinations, and the number of candidates is growing every year. The test is attended not only by students and academic staff of St Petersburg University, but also by students from other language schools. The University staff regularly conduct marketing activities to publicise the exams. They provide pre-test counselling and create partner centres to encourage people to take the test.

    Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, concluded by informing the participants that over the past week, he had sent 50 letters of complaint to the heads of European universities who had earlier notified St Petersburg University of the suspension of cooperation.

    Preparations for the 2022/2023 academic year

    Preparations for the academic year 2022/23 continue in accordance with the schedule established by Order № 13239/1 dated 30 December 2021. Within the established deadlines, the University has conducted the following activities:

    • uploading the curricula of the degree programmes for the new academic year in the "Learning" information system
    • selecting teaching assignments for the 2022/2023 academic year in the "Teaching at St Petersburg University" electronic service in the "Learning" information system
    • confirmation by the Dean/Director in the "Teaching at St Petersburg University" electronic service (commenting) of the choice of permanent faculty and invited experts-practitioners
    • adding the academic groups for the new academic year to the "Students" information system

    The formation of teaching assignments and the processing of teaching assignments of permanent teaching staff and visiting practitioners in the Assignment information system based on the results of self-registration and comments of Deans/Directors shall be linked to the calls for teaching staff positions, which continue until the end of April.

    Equally important is the timely (by the end of April) entry of the results of these competitive procedures into the SAP information system.

    In accordance with the schedule, an additional period for submitting comments shall begin after 15 April (until 30 April) for Directors/Deans to adjust teaching assignments for permanent academic staff of various academic subdivisions of St Petersburg University.

    The assignment of outstanding disciplines delivered through civil contracts, including technical assignments, is scheduled from 1 to 31 May and shall be carried out via a special interface.

    On the basis of and in order to implement the schedule of preparations for the 2022/23 academic year, as approved by order № 13239/1 dated 30 December 2021, the University developed the Procedure for preparing a task order to procure teaching services to provide for the main teaching and learning process (hereinafter the Procedure), approved by order № 3273/1 dated 05 April 22 (Appendix).

    Following the instructions of the Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods dated 2 March 2022, Directors/Deans submitted 603 candidates (except for Deans of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science and the Faculty of Psychology) for potential civil contracts. Of these, 495 candidates had previously worked at St Petersburg University. On the basis of proposals and information provided by the Directors/Deans, and taking into account the planned assignment of tasks to specific employees whose records are available in the SAP information system of St Petersburg University, the Head of the Educational Programmes Department shall produce information in accordance with paragraph 2 of the Appendix to the Procedure and submit it to the Head of the Contract Service and the Vice-Rector for Human Resources for the conclusion of civil contracts in the period from April 10 to May 15.

    Candidates with no previous employment and/or civil contracts with St Petersburg University — 108 out of 603 (the maximum number (40 out of 62) at the Faculty of Philology, 20 out of 105 at the Faculty of Law, eight at the Faculty of Asian and African Studies, eight at the Graduate School of Journalism and Mass Communication, seven at the Faculty of Arts, other faculties- 1-4 candidates respectively).

    From 1 to 31 May, Directors/Deans shall submit information on these candidates to the Head of the Educational Programmes Department to indicate potential employees under civil law agreements with no previous employment and/or civil contracts with St Petersburg University (in accordance with paragraph 1 of the Appendix to the Procedure).

    On the basis of proposals and information on the assignment of tasks to specific employees provided by the Directors/Deans (paragraph 2.2), the Head of the Educational Programmes Department shall produce a draft technical assignment for potential employees under civil-law contracts with no previous employment or civil contracts with St Petersburg University and submit it to the Head of the Contract Service and the Vice-Rector for Human Resources for the conclusion of civil contracts from 1-30 June.

    This means that the technical assignment for the procurement of teaching services shall be finalised by 30 June 2022, which would ensure that the timetable is prepared within the set time frame.

    Sergei Belov, Dean of the Faculty of Law, inquired how the directors and deans would collect information and personal data on academic staff who had not previously had employment and/or civil contracts with St Petersburg University. Previously, directors and deans were required to submit only the contact details of these academic staff. It was decided that the order shall be amended: these data will be collected by the officials of St Petersburg University, who will prepare and conclude employment contracts with these employees.

    Financial assistance to the employees of St Petersburg University

    As part of the social protection programme for employees, St Petersburg University has introduced the "Regulation on the procedure and terms of financial support for the employees of St Petersburg University", as approved by Order № 3425/1 dated 22 April 2020, which made it possible to structure and regulate the financial support, provided to the employees of St Petersburg University on various grounds. The new Collective Agreement for 2021-2024 (Social Guarantees for Employees) includes provisions for financial support to the employees of St Petersburg University.

    Vladimir Eremeev, Vice-Rector for Human Resources, informed that in order to expand social support measures for the employees of St Petersburg University, the previous Regulation has been supplemented with new socially significant clauses providing, in particular, support for persons with disabilities. In addition, the Regulation stipulates that in complex cases involving a severe health condition and a particularly difficult financial situation, the decision to provide financial support shall be discussed at a meeting of a special commission, the structure and functions of which are set out in the Regulation.

    Vladimir Eremeev also informed that in 2021 financial support was provided to 881 employees. After reviewing the applications, the commission made positive decisions and made payments totalling 10,102,019 roubles, including 1,088,000 roubles from extra-budgetary funds.

    The University has built successful relationships with the Trade Union of St Petersburg University. In cooperation with the Trade Union, the University implements a voluntary medical insurance programme for St Petersburg University employees and their family members. The University annually allocates funds from its budget to pay a partial reimbursement of the cost of a voluntary health insurance scheme to employees of St Petersburg University. In 2021, 372 employees exercised their right to claim partial reimbursement for the voluntary health insurance scheme. The total reimbursement sum amounted to 1,116 roubles, including 48,000 roubles from extra-budgetary funds. Extra-budgetary funds of the University amounting to 7,734,350 roubles were used to implement the voluntary health insurance programme for Honorary Professors of St Petersburg University in 2021.

    Starting in 2022, in order to provide social support to the University’s employees, the University plans to offer employees and their families preferential vouchers to the Horizon training and recreation centre located on the Black Sea in the village of Olginka, 26 km from the city of Tuapse, with a 50% discount on the cost of accommodation. Another social support measure for the University’ employees is the provision of corporate accommodation (49 families of academic staff reside in corporate flats).

    Violations of provisions of the Russian legislation, the by-laws of St Petersburg University, employment agreements, and other documents committed by St Petersburg University students and employees

    In the first quarter of 2022, 20 violations were recorded, for each of which an internal investigation was conducted, and measures were taken (as a comparison: in the fourth quarter of 2021, there were 22 violations).

    As always, some of these violations of a recurring nature, such as smoking on the University grounds (reprimands were issued to Mr Solomkin, Deputy Head of the Chief Engineer Department and Mr Chebunin, Lead Engineer of the Chief Engineer Department) and non-compliance with the mask mandate (a reprimand was issued to Anastasiia Kozik, Chief Specialist of the Research Support Service).

    St Petersburg University officials continue to be punished for non-fulfilment or improper fulfilment of their commitments. An audit conducted by the St Petersburg University Accounting and Financial Control Department uncovered improprieties in the execution of the federal budget with regard to the allocation and use of grants for students. Accordingly, three employees of the department — Ms Barinova, Ms Smirnova and Ms Beliakova — were brought to disciplinary responsibility. Another audit by the University’s Accounting and Financial Control Department revealed irregularities in the execution of the federal budget with regard to the allocation and use of a subsidy for the modernisation of infrastructure and for the purpose of acquiring objects of particularly valuable movable property (equipment). In this case, Oleg Dubinov, Head of the Procurement Department of the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies, was given a reprimand. Mikhail Bessonov, Head of the Belomorskaia Educational and Research Station, was reprimanded for operating a small vessel at the station without properly executed documents. And insufficient preparation for snow removal was grounds for reproving Aleksandr Zharkov, Head of the Maintenance Office in the Chief Engineer Department.

    As Vladimir Eremeev, Vice-Rector for Human Resources noted, unfortunately, there have been violations of work discipline among the academic and research staff at the University. Aleksandr Degtiarev, Professor in the Department of Computer Modelling and Multiprocessor Systems, for instance, was absent without any reasonable justification from the committee for pass/fail and graded exams, which resulted in the annulment of the decisions made by the committee, and for this, he was reprimanded. Likewise, Aleksandra Koroleva, Research Engineer of the St Petersburg University Research Park was given a reprimand for an unauthorised connection to a power socket for recharging a personal electric vehicle. Alibek Iaraliev, an engineer at the University’s Laboratory of Laser Chemistry and Laser Materials, being the materially responsible party, prevented an inventory from being carried out, for which he was also reprimanded.

    As has often been pointed out, the sources of information on possible violations may differ, but after considering the violation and carrying out the necessary reviews, a decision must be made, taking into account the gravity of the misconduct, the circumstances in which it was committed, and also the employee’s prior conduct and attitude to their work. Moreover, disciplinary action taken against an employee constitutes sufficient grounds to reduce or cancel incentive payments to that individual.

    Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, became a member of the Board of Trustees of St Petersburg University

    It was announced at the meeting that on 28 March 2022, the St Petersburg University Academic Council unanimously adopted a decision to introduce Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, into the Board of Trustees of St Petersburg University. Information about the University’s Board of Trustees is available on the official website of St Petersburg University.

    The section of the St Petersburg University portal "The University is providing assistance under the new conditions"

    In connection with appeals from students about the scattered placement of information about life at and initiatives taken by the University in the current situation, an information page has been opened on the official site of St Petersburg University: "The University is providing assistance under the new conditions". This page provides information about measures of support available to citizens of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Ukraine, for Russian students who are studying abroad, and for all students at the University as well:

    • free psychological, legal and other assistance at the St Petersburg University clinics
    • financial support
    • the possibility of transferring to St Petersburg University for Russian students who are facing difficulties in continuing their studies at a foreign university
    • the opportunity to continue their studies at St Petersburg University for international students who are forced to leave Russia at the request of their home countries
    • the collection of humanitarian aid 

    In addition, for the convenience of users, links are provided on this page to the sections of the academic and research subdivisions on the main St Petersburg University portal: for instant access to the minutes of the meetings of heads of institutes and faculties; links to the section with the materials of all rector’s meetings; and also to the section for the Virtual Reception. For those who are unable to find the information they are looking for on this page, by pressing the "Ask a question" button, they will be transferred to the Virtual Reception.

    There are separate sections on the page that contain news about the life of the University under the new conditions and also comments by St Petersburg University experts in the Russian media on topics related to the special operation, and likewise to its geopolitical, social and economic consequences for Russia and the world. The directors and the deans are instructed to submit proposals to supplement the list of experts for providing comments on current events in the media.

    A link to this page is available in the menu of the ‘University’ section on the main portal of St Petersburg University.

    Transport service for St Petersburg University facilities located in the Petrodvortsovy District of St Petersburg

    It is well known that, St Petersburg is undergoing transport reform. In this regard, the Virtual Reception has been addressed by students and staff of the University who are worried about whether private transport companies will continue to extend benefits to veterans, the disabled and students. At the behest of the Rector, Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector, discussed these issues with senior officials of the Committee for Transportation of St Petersburg Government. As she explained at the meeting, until 2025, Bus Route No 210 will be operated by St Petersburg State Unitary Enterprise Passazhiravtotrans (Passenger Auto Transport), a city enterprise whose percentage of runs completed is one of the highest in the city. Operating hours are from 6am to 12.39am, with both large-sized buses (with a capacity of about 100 people) and jumbo-sized buses (with a capacity of about 140 people) running along the route at an interval of 10-15 minutes.

    Instead of commercial route No K-424A, served by Spunt-Severo-Zapad OOO, starting 1 June, Route No 204 will be established. Transportation on this route will be carried out by VEST SERVICE OOO on the basis of a concluded contract with the city authorities, and there will be 22 medium-sized, semi-express buses, that is, with only some intermediate stops. Thus, the travel time in this mode will be commensurate with the time of existing commercial routes, even taking into account arrival in the 23rd block of Peterhof (see map).

    Moreover, the planned interval will be no more than 15-20 minutes. At the same time, the combined carrying capacity will significantly increase. In addition, all types of discounted travel tickets, including student tickets, will be available on the route. Operating hours will be from 5.23am to 1.22am. Therefore, the Committee for Transportation does not foresee any risks of deterioration in the transport services along this route.

    The directors and deans were instructed to inform students and staff about the new conditions of transport in Peterhof.

    Regulation of the Russian Government No 505 dated 29 March 2022 "On suspending the validity of some provisions in some acts of the Government of the Russian Federation and establishing the size of advance payments when concluding state (municipal) contracts in 2022"

    On 29 March 2022 was issued Resolution No 505 of the Government of the Russian Federation "On the suspension of certain provisions of some acts of the Government of the Russian Federation and setting the size of advance payments when concluding state (municipal) contracts in 2022", allowing budgetary institutions to set an advance of up to 50 per cent of the contract price when purchasing goods, works, and services in 2022.

    As Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs Yuri Penov said, it is still possible to make a 100 per cent advance payment for the following types of services: communication services; subscription to and acquisition of printed publications; training courses for professional development; professional retraining; participation in academic, methodological, research and practice and other conferences; carrying out state examination of design documentation and results of engineering surveys; purchase of air and railway tickets; and provision of hotel services during business travel.

    In establishing an advance of 50 per cent, it should be borne in mind that, in competitive procedures, the amount of the contract performance shall be at least the amount of the advance, which may lead to additional costs for the winner of purchase on the issuance of a bank guarantee for the appropriate amount.

    The results of an inspection by the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region of materials placed in the profile of a St Petersburg University professor in a social network

    On 16 March, information was published on the website of St Petersburg University about the online course "Ukraine: Morphology and Mythology" (St Petersburg University creates an online course on Ukraine’s modern history). On 17 March, information appeared on the Internet and in the media that the author of the course, Nikolai Mezhevich, Professor in the Department of European Studies, ostensibly posts statements on his page on the social network VKontakte that may be aimed at inciting hatred on ethnic grounds. On 18 March, St Petersburg University received an appeal from the Presidium of the University’s Student Council signed by Mikhail Mochalov, Chairman of the Student Council. It referred to possible cases in which, in the opinion of the members of the Presidium of the Student Council, Professor Nikolai Mezhevich, by publishing statements aimed at inciting hatred on ethnic grounds on the pages of various Internet resources, had committed unlawful acts. At the same time that the Student Council sent its appeal, the Virtual Reception of St Petersburg University received an inquiry about the measures taken by the University with regard to Professor Nikolai Mezhevich (Will the University verify the statements made by one of its teachers in social networks?).

    Taking into account that the power to determine the existence of criminal or administrative offences in the actions of a citizen is entirely vested in the law enforcement authorities, the appeal received from the Student Council on18 March 2022 (in accordance with Article 8, paragraph 3 of the Federal Law "On the Procedure for the Consideration of Appeals of Citizens of the Russian Federation" of 2 May 2006 59-FZ) was redirected to the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region to verify the arguments contained in it.

    On 4 April, St Petersburg University received notification from the Centre for Combating Extremism of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, according to which it had not been established that Professor Nikolai Mezhevich had violated the legislation of the Russian Federation in the field of extremist activity. To this effect, an answer to the original inquiry was published in the Virtual Reception (On verification of statements made on social media by a teacher at St Petersburg University). Professor Nikolai Mezhkevich comments on this situation: ‘There are signs that my account on VKontakte has been hacked. Some information has been edited, while other information and assessments have been posted by persons unknown to me. All changes have been made after 24 February 2022. In addition, a campaign of cyberbullying and harassment has been launched against me, in which, according to the information that I have, St Petersburg University students Ekaterina Ugleva and Mikhail Mochalov are involved. I reserve the right to apply to the Ethics Commission of our University for an evaluation of their actions’.

    Two hundred years of zoology at St Petersburg University

    Igor Tikhonovich, Dean of the Faculty of Biology, reminded everybody that the University has opened an exhibition dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the first Department of Zoology at St Petersburg University. In 1822, the University established, for the first time in Russia, a separate academic and scientific field of study to explore the diversity of the animal world (the Department of Zoology). Previously zoology had been represented in the natural history departments, where it had been taught together with mineralogy and other disciplines. In connection with this anniversary, the University has launched a celebration of the Year of Zoology.

    The exhibition presents materials on the history of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, along with exhibits from the zoological collections. It includes interactive features: visitors can, for example, see drugs under a microscope, which is of great interest to schoolchildren. Some young visitors have asked for the opportunity to draw what they have seen under the microscope, and this has made it possible to expand the interactive component of the exhibition.

    As noted at the meeting, this exhibition has received many favourable reviews. News about the opening of the exhibition in the University’s official community on Vkontakte collected almost 9,000 views, and due to the keen interest of visitors, the exhibition has been extended by three hours a day.

    The exposition will be open to the public in the exhibition hall of the Twelve Collegia Building until the end of April. The Department staff plan to prepare a video tour of the exhibition and make it accessible to all.