Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

No. 521

    The Blood Donor Day at St Petersburg University

    The national Blood Donor Day is celebrated in Russia on 20 April every year. On this day in 1832, Andrew Wolf performed a blood transfusion for the first time in the national medical practice.

    The Blood Donor Day in Russia is considered a national holiday established by the Government on the legislative level. Special events are held in support of blood donation. Prizes and awards are given for participation in blood donation.

    Every year, about 1.5 million Russians with severe diseases and post-surgery or post-traumatic conditions need a blood transfusion. Doctors encourage people to become donors and donate blood to save lives.

    At the meeting, it was discussed that the University staff and students will also take part in the events devoted to the Blood Donor Day. St Petersburg University will organise a lecture on blood donation as well as take those, who are willing to act as donors, to the municipal blood transfusion station. The information on the programme for the Blood Donor Day at St Petersburg University can be found on the University website.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Last week, the Virtual Reception received 14 enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Seven enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register.

    According to Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, and as reported by the majority of the academic and research subdivisions, the classes are held following the timetable in due order.

    The Dean of the School of International Relations reported receiving several inquiries from students about transferring to the remote format. This week, similar inquiries were received from students and doctoral students in other fields and academic programmes, including international students, who are currently located outside St Petersburg. Students list the following reasons: lack of possibility to come to St Petersburg, work, family circumstances (without attaching any confirmatory documents).

    These inquiries are being considered by authorised staff of the Academic Affairs Department, taking into account the opinion and offers from the heads of specific academic and research subdivisions. The students, who failed to specify the reason for their absence at academic classes, were refused the opportunity to continue studying remotely. As an exceptional case, the staff may consider providing an academic leave and a personal academic timetable in view of objective reasons and temporary inability to study on-campus.

    Marina Lavrikova noted that a temporary transition to the remote format of studies with the use of information and communication technologies was caused by the restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Taking into account Regulation of the Government of St Petersburg № 163 dated 2 March 2022 "On amendments to Regulation № 121 dated 13 March 2020" that cancelled a number of restrictions and based on the proposal from the 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 an in-person or hybrid format (including on-campus classes) of academic classes and interim assessment for degree programmes starting 7 March 2022. The decision in relation to the format of classes, interim and final assessments had been previously discussed by Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities with the heads of academic and research subdivisions.

    According to Marina Lavrikova, following the Academic Regulations approved by Rector’s Order № 3107/1 dated 31 August 2013, the students of St Petersburg University shall "2.1.1. master the academic programme with due diligence, perform the curriculum requirements (individual curriculum), attend classes provided by the general or individual curriculum, prepare for classes independently, perform the tasks assigned by teachers of the academic programme independently, prepare term papers, graduation projects as well as other activity and tasks provided by the general or individual curriculum independently". If students fail to perform these duties, it may serve as a reason to use remedies.

    At the same time, objective reasons may lead to holding classes for particular groups or students in the remote format with the use of information and communication technologies. Thus, it holds good, for example, if a teacher has an independent contractor agreement that provides for remote work; if the majority of students in the group are international students who are located outside St Petersburg for objective reasons; if initially, the format of some classes of the academic programme implied using e-learning (for example, the format of online courses).

    The students, who have objective reasons not to attend on-campus classes, can send a request to the Head of the Academic Office. Every case will be considered individually.

    Those students, who happen to be sick on the date of the examination or test, (in accordance with the Academic Regulations, paragraph 4.3.4) should send a medical certificate to the Head of the Academic Office that will allow for the assessment to be transferred to a different date. The medical certificate should be sent no later than three working days after the date of issue.

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

    Following Order № 1018/1р dated 23 March 2022, "On organising control over observing the established timetable of academic classes and interim assessment", 634 inspections were held at the University to make sure that 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’ is observed. In the part of complying with the format of academic classes in accordance with the established timetable, 91 violations were recorded. Relevant acts were drawn and forwarded to the Vice-Rector for Human Resources.

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

    At the meeting with the Dean of the Faculty of Sociology, representatives of the Student Council and group leaders requested to provide academic and teaching methodology documents for writing term papers and graduation projects. The group leaders were sent the relevant regulatory documents as well as an electronic version of the academic and methodological guidelines on writing term papers and graduation projects. Academic and teaching methodology documents are located on the official web page of the University portal in the section "The description of academic programmers".

    At the meetings with students, the deans of the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Biology, the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes reminded the students of the vaccination certificates validity period. They also mentioned that lifting certain pandemic-related restrictions does not replace the need to get vaccinated and re-vaccinated against COVID-19 in a timely manner, since the risk of contracting the disease still exists despite a decrease in the infection rate.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process and other issues were discussed at the meetings with the representatives of the Student Councils, student scientific societies, group leaders and the deans of the Faculty of Physics, the Institute of History, the Institute of Chemistry, the Faculty of Philology, the College of Physical Training and Sports, Economics and Technology (the minutes were not recorded and published).

    The meetings between students and the heads of the Institute of Philosophy, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Faculty of Foreign Languages, the Faculty of Political Science, the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies, the Graduate School of Management, the Faculty of Economics (the minutes were not recorded and published).

    Results of the competition of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation

    The Expert Council of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation completed the grant competition for master’s programme teachers from 75 universities, who took part in the scholarship programme. St Petersburg University took the lead in the number of winners among Russian universities. Seven teachers of St Petersburg University will receive grants for the development of a master’s programme, an academic course or introducing new academic practices (St Petersburg University leads in the number of laureates of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation awards).

    Kazan National Research Technological University and Ural Federal University take the second place with six winners each. Kazan Federal University, Lomonosov Moscow State University and Southern Federal University take third place with five winners each.

    This year, 582 teachers applied for the competition, and 150 of them won prizes enabling them to develop academic products in one of the four nominations: a new master’s programme, an academic course or an online course, new methods and technologies in education.

    The following lecturers received the Vladimir Potanin Foundation grants: Professor Marina Berezhnaia, Head of the Department of TV and Radio Journalism; Associate Professor Liudmila Gadasina, Head of the Department of Information Systems in Economics; Olga Korableva, Professor in the Department of Economics of Research and Development; Oksana Zashchirinskaia, Associate Professor in the Department of Education Psychology; Iuliia Ilina, Associate Professor in the Department of Finance and Accounting; Nikolai Zenkevich, Associate Professor in the Department of Operations Management; and Dmitrii Prokudin, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy of Science and Technology.

    The Corporate Finance programme, developed with the participation of Nikolai Zenkevich, Associate Professor from St Petersburg University, was recognised as one of the best in the nomination for master’s programmes.

    Andrey Pavlenko contest of scientific and social projects

    On 8 April, the jury summed up the results of the contest of scientific and social projects among the students of St Petersburg University "Life and Human Health: Modern Challenges" named after Andrey Pavlenko in the 2021/2022 academic year.

    This contest is dedicated to the distinguished surgical oncologist Andrey Pavlenko, who headed the Oncology Department at St Petersburg University’s Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies.

    Аccording to Aleksandr Babich, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, the competition was held among bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and clinical residency students of St Petersburg University from 1 February 2022. The participants had prepared projects aimed at improving physical, mental and social health. Individuals and teams of up to five people were eligible to apply. The application deadline was 13 March.

    Eighteen teams took part in the contest. The University students prepared projects aimed at improving physical, mental and social health. The jury selected four winners. More information about the winners is available on the University website.

    The winners of the contest are granted a scholarship of Andrey Pavlenko in the amount of 15,000 roubles per month in equal shares to all co-authoring students within the team of authors for the time period from 1 September 2021 to 30 June 2022. Scholarships for the period from 1 September of the relevant academic year till the month when the contest results are announced are paid as a lump-sum refund.

    Andrey Pavlenko is a distinguished surgical oncologist, who headed the Oncology Department at St Petersburg University’s Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies. In the spring of 2018, the physician learned that he had advanced gastric cancer. For the next year and a half, he fought off the disease, continuing to consult and operate on patients and share his knowledge with students and colleagues.

    When he became a cancer patient, he created the "Human Life" project, where he was sharing the course of the disease and difficulties during the treatment process helping other oncology patients to understand how to live with the diagnosis of cancer, what steps to take and what mistakes to avoid in order to increase the chances for recovery. At that time, the idea of creating the School of Practical Oncology was conceived. This academic programme was meant to unite all most effective cancer treatment practices enabling young specialists to significantly increase their professional level. In 2020, Andrey Pavlenko departed this life.

    Activity of sports sections at St Petersburg University

    St Petersburg University held a competition in multi-repeat bench press "Uncle Vania Cup". Uncle Vania Cup is dedicated to the memory of Ivan Lebedev, a student of St Petersburg Imperial University, a founder of the first sports circle ‘Courses of Swedish gymnastics and athletics’ in Russia. The University students and staff took part in the competition.

    Ivan Lebedev, also known as Uncle Vania, initiated the first sports club at the University in 1901. According to Aleksandr Babich, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, today, sports clubs at St Petersburg University are very popular with students and teachers. Students attend sports clubs two or three times per week and prepare for professional competitions among universities.

    In the 2021/2022 academic year, St Petersburg University has 18 operating sports clubs, including five clubs at the University sports facilities in the Petrodvortsovy District: ultimate, badminton, basketball, volleyball and general physical training (fitness). The timetable of sports clubs is published on the web page of the Sports Department.

    Supporting the activity of student scientific societies at St Petersburg University

    As reported at the Rector’s meeting held on 28 March, Order № 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 on the scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation. At the same time, in the 2021/2022 academic year, the University is implementing the plan of events aimed at supporting the activity of student research groups approved by Order № 6836/1 dated 29 June 2021 of the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Admissions.

    According to Vladimir Savinov, Vice-Rector for Educational Activity, the plan for the current year features 27 events, including collecting the proposals from student scientific societies and circles on supporting their activity, holding student research events, creating the Student Scientific Society of St Petersburg University, conducting student research conferences, contests, and round tables to name just a few.

    Vladimir Savinov noted that establishing the Student Scientific Society of St Petersburg University takes a special place in this list of events. The process of its creation was completed on 11 April, when the representatives of 13 student scientific societies of St Petersburg University gathered for the first time. They formed a Praesidium, outlined the main fields of work, including grant activity, public relations and interaction with other universities. The activity of the Student Scientific Society of St Petersburg University is determined by the Regulations on student scientific societies at St Petersburg University. More information can be found on the website.

    Over the past period of the current academic year, the following events were held:

    1. the Week of Biology (20 to26 September 2021)
    2. "The Ananiev Readings" conference (19 to 22 October 2021) (St Petersburg University scientists: feelings of loneliness among adults reduce during the pandemic)
    3. Student Scientific Conference in history "November Readings" (19 to 21 November 2021)
    4. International Tournament in Natural Sciences (3 to 5 February 2022)
    5. Bioinformatics hackathon (15 February to 1 March 2022)
    6. Case Championship in Biology (15 February to 1 March 2022)
    7. International Student Law Conference iSLaCo (8 to 9 April 2022) (St Petersburg University hosts first ever iSLaCo Moot Court on intellectual property law)
    8. Great Geographical Festival (8 April 2022)
    9. All Russia Youth Geology Conference "Modern Research in Geology" (8 April 2022)
    10. 10th International Student Scientific Conference "Russia in the global world: new challenges and possibilities" (24 to 26 March 2022)
    11. Regular meetings of the Student Scientific Society

    In May, it is planned to hold the International Scientific Conference "Psychology of the 21st century". Due to the epidemiological and economic reasons, some events were transferred to the autumn of 2022:

    1. International Student Conference "Management of the Future" 
    2. 13th International Youth Conference of Political Scientists
    3. Student Scientific Conference within the framework of "The week of research and practice by sociologists"
    4. International Student Conference "Ex Oriente Lux" on the margins of the Days of Asian and African Studies at St Petersburg University

    A similar plan will be prepared for the 2022/2023 academic year, taking into account the proposals of the University Student Scientific Society.

    Violations of the Legislation of the Russian Federation, the by-laws of St Petersburg University, employment agreements and other documents committed by students and staff of St Petersburg University

    The Rector’s meeting held on 11 April 2022 addressed the issue of violations of the legislation of the Russian Federation, the by-laws of St Petersburg University, employment agreements and other rules by the University employees in the first quarter of 2022 (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 11 April 2022).

    Aleksandr Babich, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, reported on similar violations by students of St Petersburg University in the first quarter of 2022. He reminded that the information on violations of by-laws and legislation of the Russian Federation by students in 2021 had been discussed at Rector’s meetings held on 17 January 2022, 11 October 2021 and 15 June 2021.

    According to Aleksandr Babich, from 14 January to 15 April 2022, 21 students were reported to have breached the by-laws of St Petersburg University. Among them were: bachelor’s and specialist’s students — 12; master’s students — 5; doctoral students — 1; and non-university level higher education — 3.

    The following numbers of violations were recorded in the fields of study: Applied Mathematics and Control Processes — 5, Philology — 5, Law — 3, Earth Sciences — 2, Management — 1, Physics — 1, Philosophy — 1, and Physical Education (a non-university level higher education) — 3.

    Types of violations:

    1. para. 2.1.2 of the Internal rules of conduct of St Petersburg University students, para. 1 of Order No 7517/1 "On measures to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) among students and employees" dated 28 August 2020, namely: to meet the requirements of regulations in the field of education, regulating educational and research processes (wearing of a mask) — 2 
    2. para. 10.2.8 of the Rules of residence in the halls of residence of St Petersburg University, namely: unauthorised visitors in the residence hall, violation of the permit regime — 1
    3. para. 2.1.9 of the Internal rules of conduct of St Petersburg University students, namely: be disciplined, commit to cleanness and order on University premises — 3
    4. para. 1 of Order № 11725/1 "On the prohibition of smoking in the buildings and premises of St Petersburg University" dated 28 November 2019 — 5 
    5. para. 10.1.9 of the Rules of residence in the halls of residence of St Petersburg University: non-payment of rent and utilities — 4
    6. para. 2.19 of the Regulations on the provision of accommodation in the halls of residence of St Petersburg University, approved by Order № 6525/1 dated 16 June 2021: no additional agreement to the rental agreement for temporary move-out, for the period of the academic leave — 1
    7. para. 10.1.1 and 10.1.3 of the Accommodation rules in the halls of residence of St Petersburg University: non-compliance with the rules of safety and fire safety, failure to maintain cleanliness and order in the room — 2
    8. para. 2.1.6 and 2.1.7 of the Internal rules of conduct of St Petersburg University students, namely: be polite, respect the honour and dignity of other University students and employees, not create obstacles for other students to receive education; follow moral and cultural traditions and spiritual values of the University, moral and ethical standards, comply with the University Student and Staff Code of Conduct — 3 

    Educational and awareness-raising work was conducted with these students. Disciplinary action forms were compiled and submitted to the Student Council of St Petersburg University for consideration.

    Aleksandr Babich reported that materials for 14 out of 21 students are under consideration by the Student Council of St Petersburg University. One of the submissions has been under consideration by the Student Council for one month. Following the opinion of the Student Council, the University shall issue orders on disciplinary measures against the students.

    One student was expelled on 21 March 2022 for poor academic performance. Six students have been subject to disciplinary action, taking into account the opinion of the Student Council of St Petersburg University: each has received a warning. In these cases, the proposal for disciplinary measures as made by the Student Council of St Petersburg University was in line with the draft orders submitted. One of the submissions, as noted Aleksandr Babich, had taken more than a month for the Student Council to consider.

    Disciplinary action was also taken against 40 students who had committed violations from 14 January to 15 April 2022: seven warning notes and 33 reprimands were issued.

    As Aleksandr Babich noted, the Student Council proposed to mitigate the disciplinary penalty 29 times when considering the issues of imposing disciplinary measures on students. In 19 cases (66%), taking into account the opinion of the Student Council, disciplinary measures were mitigated. In ten cases (34%), the proposed disciplinary measure remained in effect (in accordance with the draft order). In 17 cases, the Student Council had been deliberating on the issue for more than one month (three of them — for more than two months).

    Aleksandr Babich reported that one of the students, being on academic leave and knowing that an order on his expulsion was considered by the Student Council of St Petersburg University, submitted a request for voluntary expulsion and was expelled within the time frame determined by the law. Another student, being on academic leave and knowing that an order for expulsion was under consideration by the Student Council, chose not to return from academic leave and was expelled within the time frame determined by the law for failure to return from academic leave.

    Currently, the Student Council holds seven sets of documents for review, which were sent more than three months ago.

    The issue of the deadlines for review of draft orders by the Student Council was discussed at the Rector’s meeting with the members of the Presidium of the Student Council on 21 March 2022, as reported at the Rector’s meeting dated 04 April 2022. During the meeting, the Student Council was advised to consider setting a 14-day (or shorter) deadline for processing such requests.

    As the Student Council has not submitted any proposals on this issue to date, the University has prepared a draft order "On the procedure and terms for incorporating the opinion of the Student Council of St Petersburg University when issuing local regulations affecting the rights and legitimate interests of students of St Petersburg University". This document establishes a 14-day deadline for considering drafts of such orders. The draft was sent to the Student Council to ensure that their opinion was taken into account.

    Aleksandr Babich also reported that the Committee (involving the Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs, the Vice-Rector for Educational Activity, the Dean of the Faculty of Psychology and the Dean of the Faculty of Law) continues its work with students who have been charged with administrative offences for participating in unauthorised rallies. The students can provide information about the circumstances of what happened, report about the appeal against the decision, or about administrative charges brought against them, about their intention to appeal against the decision or the results of such appeal.

    So far, members of the Committee have met with 46 students, 37 of whom said that they had been detained accidentally and had no intention of participating in unauthorised events; nine students said that they attended the unauthorised event because they were personally concerned since their relatives and friends were in Ukraine, or because they wanted to express their position. All of the students confirmed that they would no longer participate in unauthorised events. The Committee also examined the previous behaviour of the students: the students had no previous disciplinary records.

    In relation to these students, the Committee recommended disciplinary action in the form of a reprimand. Draft orders to impose a disciplinary measure in the form of a reprimand to these students have been sent to the Student Council to obtain their opinion. As nine students, who had also met with the Committee and had previously been recommended for disciplinary action in the form of expulsion, said they would no longer participate in unauthorised events, a letter was sent to the Student Council to propose to change the disciplinary measure from expulsion to a reprimand. Aleksandr Babich reminded the participants that if the decision to impose administrative penalties were to be reversed by the court, the order to impose disciplinary measures would also be reversed (as it had been repeatedly indicated at Rector’s meetings, in particular: at the Rector’s meeting dated 8 December 2021 and at the Rector’s meeting dated 7 February 2022).

    Award named after Gennady Leonov

    In 2022, the Government of St Petersburg included the Award named after Gennady Leonov (in Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence) in the list of nominations (St Petersburg Committee for Science and Higher Education starts the application process for the award named after St Petersburg University mathematician Gennady Leonov). A wax model of the medal with the profile of Gennady Leonov has been prepared and approved.

    Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, reported that the materials submitted for the competition are currently being reviewed by the expert council for this nomination, headed by a disciple of Gennady Leonov — Nikolay Kuznetsov, Professor of St Petersburg University and Head of the Department of Applied Cybernetics. The Expert Council includes, among others, Vladimir Peshekhonov, representative of the Committee for Science and Higher Education, representative of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St Petersburg Federal Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences ), Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor, Doctor of Engineering, Director of Concern CSRI ’Elektropribor’, and representatives of research and educational organisations in the field of Cybernetics and Information Technology.

    St Petersburg University has nominated Aleksandr Fominykh, Associate Professor in the Department of Department of Medical and Biological Systems Control, for a nomination in Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence. The nomination documents were discussed at the meeting of the Academic Council of St Petersburg University on 28 February 2022. The applications had been submitted by the nominees in electronic form until 17 March 2022. The St Petersburg Committee for Science and Higher Education has not yet received the application.

    Cooperation agreement with the Battery Company Rigel

    On 14 April, St Petersburg University and the Battery Company Rigel signed a cooperation agreement setting up a laboratory to develop mathematical methods for modelling independent energy sources and assessing their safety. Evgenii Vlasov, General Director of the Battery Company Rigel, signed the document on behalf of the enterprise (St Petersburg University to set up a laboratory for energy-efficient and safe batteries).

    Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, announced that the laboratory shall benefit from mutual implementation of research, development and other projects. The main fields of activity of the laboratory shall include:

    • developing efficient mathematical models of independent energy sources and batteries
    • building a methodological apparatus for developing relevant models and conducting comprehensive test programmes
    • developing digital twins to estimate lithium battery parameters
    • conducting comprehensive research to develop mathematical, energy, electrochemical, acceleration processes and mechanisms to ensure product safety

    The developments of the new laboratory will be tested at the scientific and educational centre of St Petersburg University "Mathematical Robotics and Artificial Intelligence" of St Petersburg University. Sergey Mikushev stressed that the creation of this laboratory at St Petersburg University is one of the cases when the partner is fully aware of what they want from the participants and is willing to work directly with the researchers.

    Promising approaches to assessing the effectiveness of research and development projects

    Following instructions from Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, together with the Russian Academy of Sciences and interested organisations, has initiated the development of a national system for assessing the effectiveness of research and development. At the request of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg University collected proposals from the directors/deans of subdivisions and heads of scientific committees for methods to assess research/development performance and define the concept of "scientific performance" in relation to the assessment of scientific effectiveness and the methodology for its assessment.

    Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, reported receiving a large number of proposals from members of various subdivisions of St Petersburg University concerning approaches to the assessment of research performance. The proposals revolve around the use of various evaluation criteria for assessing performance in different fields of knowledge and emphasise that the scientific assessment system should have a national character and be independent of the international context. The Russian Science Citation Index (RSCI) should serve as a technological basis for the assessment of research performance, and its tools can be upgraded to the level of foreign equivalents. However, the proposals submitted by the members of the departments were mostly of qualitative nature, while the assessment methodology should meet three requirements: measurability, achievability, and verifiability.

    Proposals received from the heads of the University subdivisions have been summarised into a single proposal from St Petersburg University. The proposal includes the creation of an open peer review system for high-quality expertise (indicating authorship, publication of the text of the expertise, and imposing costs on experts in cases of unsatisfactory performance). St Petersburg University introduced the principles of open expertise in open competition for basic/applied research in 2012, as reflected in the orders and regulations governing the competitive procedures (On-going competitive procedures at St Petersburg University).

    The unified proposals of St Petersburg University reflect the need to apply peer review criteria in assessing performance. Participation in reviewing (national) journals, in particular, should be recognised as a priority. This criterion is a useful tool for assessing individual performance reports, competitive procedures and the awarding of employment contracts to academic staff. When assessing research performance, it is important to evaluate not only the results obtained, but also the research process, the use of open standards in research, and the scientific background in terms of data sharing and open collaboration. It is imperative that the criteria should be flexible with regard to the scientific field and the level of research maturity.

    St Petersburg University proposes to develop a set of standards that should be approved by, for example, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and is willing to participate in their development. Such standards have already been introduced for clinical trials, the procedure for which has been established by law. The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) methodology, developed to monitor the process of technological development in full innovation cycle companies, has now been tested and adopted by leading tech companies around the world as one of the analytical tools for assessing technology readiness for industrial implementation. In the Russian Federation, the national standard GOST R 58048-2017 "Technology transfer. Technology maturity assessment methodology guide". Almost all major corporations in Russia and around the world apply this TRL assessment tool to their operations.

    The uniform proposal of St Petersburg University has included a number of essential elements that may constitute a "research performance":

    • number of implemented research projects registered in the Uniform State Research and Development System
    • number of publications in the journals listed by the Higher Assessment Committee and the Russian Science Citation Index (taking into account the journal ranking)
    • number of monographs documenting the results of the research, subject to scientific peer review
    • number of dictionaries, commented scientific translations, and grammar books to name just a few
    • number of dissertations defended under the supervision of academic and research staff
    • number of registered intellectual property objects
    • membership in the editorial boards of rated journals (subject to the journal rating)
    • presentations and lectures at national and international conferences
    • number of annotated data published in the public domain, DataSet

    St Petersburg University proposes to develop a system that is open both in terms of the assessment criteria and in terms of individual assessments of scientific activity. Due to the fact that, at the moment, publication indicators (quartile, impact factor) are widely adopted as evaluation criteria for research performance, it is proposed not to completely exclude this criterion from the assessment system, and to allow assessment of the publication by profile experts or expert communities. Sergey Mikushev noted that scientific journals in Russia are currently bound by the nomenclature of scientific professions adopted by the Higher Assessment Committee. However, many key problems of modern science are interdisciplinary in nature. It is necessary to introduce the concept of "interdisciplinary scientific journal" and avoid confining the nominal topics of scientific journals to a fixed number of scientific professions listed by the Higher Assessment Committee, said Sergey Mikushev.

    The unified proposals of St Petersburg University outlined the need for state support of editorial and publishing work of the best and advanced national scientific journals shortlisted by the scientific community, including support of foreign-language editors. The proposal suggests that these journals should be free to access online, without subscriptions or other restrictions.

    International activity

    The University’s international activity has been discussed at the recent Rector’s meetings (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; Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 11 April 2022). According to Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, last week saw new developments.

    Opening an international module of the Executive MBA double degree programme in ‘Strategic management and leadership’ for the Kazakh audience

    On April 11, the opening ceremony of the international module for students from Kazakhstan for the Double Degree Executive MBA programme of the Graduate School of Management of St Petersburg University (GSOM SPbU) and the Graduate School of Business Almaty Management University (GSB AlmaU) took place. Among the students are leaders of various business fields of Kazakhstan. This programme has been implemented for the fourth year in a row. Among its graduates are representatives of companies from all over the world and Kazakhstan: "Kazakhtelecom" JSC, FAO "Johnson Controls", and "World Class" to name just a few.

    Meeting with the CEO of the Navoi Free Economic Zone

    On 13 April, a meeting with Khabib Abdullaev, CEO of the Navoi Free Economic Zone (Navoi FEZ), the Republic of Uzbekistan, was held in the form of a video conference. Earlier the University signed an agreement on setting up a representative office of the University on its basis (Research developments of St Petersburg University enter the Uzbek market).

    During the meeting, it has been pointed out that the University is not only interested in relations with universities but with the corporate sector, industrial and hi-tech companies. This opens up a whole range of possibilities for students’ practices and commercialisation of research results of the University.

    Navoi FEZ is the first free economic zone in Uzbekistan. It was set up in 2008 and is now a major industrial space with the square of 645 hectares, engineering infrastructure and convenient logistics. The FEZ residents enjoy unprecedented customs and tax reliefs and simpler procedures.

    According to Khabib Abdullaev, developments in energy saving with the use of sophisticated materials, alternative energy sources, purification and quality control of freshwater are mostly in demand in Uzbekistan. He also talked about the possibility of getting government grants and subsidies for research.

    Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, talked about promising developments in the sphere of photoactive materials and water purification systems which may be later put into production. Sergey Mikushev also mentioned the work of the world-class scientific centre "Agricultural technologies of the future", which was set up in 2020 in cooperation with six scientific organisations to conduct research in the most relevant domains of modern science.

    As a result, the parties have agreed to analyse the University’s scientific developments with an aim of their future capitalisation in cooperation with major enterprises in Uzbekistan.

    Visit of Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in St Petersburg Mr Özgün Talu to St Petersburg University

    On 14 April, Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in St Petersburg Mr Özgün Talu visited the University. In the framework of the meeting of the Consul General with the Deputy Rector for International Affairs of the University, the issues of cooperation were talked about.

    Taking into consideration the untimely death of the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in St Petersburg Mehmet Ferhan Yorulmaz and his significant contribution to the development of scientific, academic and cultural cooperation with universities and organisations in Turkey, St Petersburg university suggested introducing a grant in the name of the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in St Petersburg Mehmet Ferhan Yorulmaz. The University’s partner in this grant will be the international construction company "Renaissance Construction".

    As a result, the parties have agreed on the implementation of the Procedure the for selection of applicants from the University students for the scholarship named after Mehmet Ferhan Yorulmaz (in the 2022/23 academic year), under which the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey will join the committee for the selection of applicants from the University students for the personal scholarship.

    During negotiations, the Turkish party has expressed interest in holding the Turkish Proficiency Examination for International Students — Türkçe Yeterlik Sınavı (TYS) at St Petersburg University and Yunus Emre Institute.

    Taking into consideration the importance of strategic partnership between our countries, the parties have expressed their desire to establish new contacts and broaden the existing cooperation between the University and universities of the Republic of Turkey in the sphere of science, culture and education.

    At present, the University has entered into cooperation agreements with 11 institutes in the Republic of Turkey. The University aims at extending cooperation with the leading Turkish universities in a wide range of fields, such as law, history, economics, mathematics, physics, biology, oriental studies, in particular, in the form of student and staff exchanges, development of student and academic mobility, carrying out joint research, publication of articles, and organisation of and holding such events as conferences, symposia, round tables, and seminars to name just a few.

    The Turkish party supported the implementation of the following promising joint projects suggested by the University:

    • development and implementation of joint academic programme "Tourist destinations" to teach high-quality specialists in the field of tourism
    • invitation of Turkish lecturers to the University with the assistance of the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey
    • participation of the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in the joint academic programme "Ottoman Studies" 
    • assistance of the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in the establishment of the Turkish "Speaking club" at the University ("Asian and African Studies"/"Philology") to all comers

    During the negotiations, the parties have also discussed the issue of attracting the Turkish business community to the development of "The Neva Delta" Innovative Science and Technology Centre. In connection with the implementation of a similar project "Technocity" at Ankara University, the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey offered his assistance in providing contacts for exchange of experience in campus construction and development of a technological valley.

    Visit of Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan in the Russian Federation Gulmahmadzoda Davlatshoh Qurbonali to St Petersburg University

    On April 14, Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan in the Russian Federation Gulmahmadzoda Davlatshoh Qurbonali visited the University. The Ambassador delivered a speech to the University’s students, and citizens of Tajikistan and held negotiations with the University’s administration. In the course of the meeting, at which Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, Vladimir Savinov, Vice-Rector for Educational Activity, and Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, the issues of cooperation of the University with the Republic of Tajikistan were discussed.

    The Ambassador noted that in the era of climate change the issue of melting caps is relevant, as these are the main source of irrigation and the agriculture of Tajikistan depends on them. The shortage of water, its quality, as well as the shortage of power are the challenges to the republic’s economy the government of Tajikistan is faced with at present. The solution to these problems, according to the Ambassador, is high-skilled personnel, as well as fundamental and applied research. This is the direction in which the University, with its experience and achievements in science and education, could assist Tajikistan through close cooperation with scientific and educational organisations and the government of the country. The parties have agreed to send their suggestions on future cooperation to the Embassy of Tajikistan in Moscow and continue cooperation to implement such projects.

    Concluding an agreement of charitable donation with the Consul General of the Republic of Bangladesh

    On 14 April, Senior Vice-Rector Elena Chernova signed an agreement for charitable donations with the Consul General of Bangladesh. Since 2017 the University has regularly received donations from the Consulate aimed at encouraging students (in the form of additional personal grants) of "Asian and African Studies" who study the language, culture and history of Bangladesh.

    Presentation by the College of International Culture of Capital Normal University (CNU) in China on the possibilities for the students of St Petersburg University to study at CNU

    On 15 April 2022, in the framework of the cultural and educational week of Capital Normal University of China and the University, the presentation of the CNU College of International Culture on studying possibilities for the University students was held. The procedure of applying for the exchange, the education in Chinese and in other fields was explained, the issues of accommodation and, food and others were covered.

    Increasing popularity of the Russian language testing

    Since the beginning of the year, tests in Russian as a foreign language at the University have been taken by 1,000 people already, which is 30 % more than last year, and the number of countries that joined in is on the rise (The popularity of the Russian language testing increases by 30%).

    Since 2016, the University has been engaged in the promotion and development of the state system of Russian as a foreign language testing. At present, 112 testing centres operate in 48 countries, and the scope of their activity is expanding. Thus, for instance, thanks to the University’s efforts last year, state testing in Russian as a foreign language received a government status in Catalonia (Spain). Today, the number of applicants is growing in different parts of the world.

    In 2022, the number of applicants for the Russian as a foreign language test in China grew by 25% against the first quarter of the last year, in Greece by 55 %, and in Italy and Iran by about 20 %. But rising interest in the Russian language can be observed not only in the countries where the University specialists traditionally work. Starting this year, such countries as Yemen, Malaysia, Myanmar, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka and Ecuador joined the programme. A lot of those willing to test their language skills appeared in Mexico: more than 30 people at once applied to the University’s Language Centre. The rising interest can be seen even in Poland (two times more) and the US (this year, 22 persons have already taken the test, against two in 2021).

    Celebrating Songkran — the New Year in Thailand

    On 13 April, the people of South-East Asia celebrate the New Year. On this day, the University’s Thai students organised a feast for Thai and Russian students and teachers. The guests were introduced to the Thai traditions and festive national cuisine of Thailand (St Petersburg University celebrates Songkran — the Thai New Year). The New Year is celebrated on 13 April in all countries preaching Theravada Buddhism, including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

    Regulation on establishing a branch of St Petersburg University in Tashkent is approved

    On 14 April, Order No 3937/1 on approval of the Regulations on establishing the University branch in Tashkent (Republic of Uzbekistan) in the framework of preparation for opening the branch in 2022 (From biomedicine to pharmacology: St Petersburg University opens a branch in Uzbekistan).

    Results of inspection on the inquiry by student Polina Tareeva on the admission of three teachers to participation in the contest for the position of Associate Professor at the Institute of History

    Polina Tareeva, a student of the Institute of History, applied to the virtual reception with a complaint alleging that three applicants for the position of Associate Professor in "History" (Elena Lelina, Olga Sokurova, Sergei Zhestokanov) do not comply with qualification requirements in terms of grants/contracts, that’s why she suggests initiating a respective check of the validity of these candidates being admitted to the contest.

    Vladimir Eremeev, Vice-Rector for Human Resources, announced the results of the check of the arguments in the complaint at the Rector’s meeting.

    Vladimir Eremeev reminded that contests for academic positions at the University are held in accordance with the Regulations of the procedure for filling scientific and teaching positions approved by Order of the Rector of St Petersburg University No 10864/1 as of 31 October 2019 (hereinafter the Regulations). Order № 506/1 "On the clarification of orders for holding a contest for filling research and teaching staff positions in 2021/22 academic year" dated 27 January 2022 (hereinafter the Order) clarifies the qualification requirement of the number of grants/contracts to be admitted to the contest.

    Associate Professor Elena Lelina complies with the grant requirement, as the University’s publishing house concluded a licence agreement with her for publishing the textbook "Technology and organisation of informational and excursion activity, 2022", which is in accordance with Para 1.3.3 of the Order. Para 1.3 stipulated the types of activity to be taken into account when deciding on grants/contracts without requirements for the amount of funding.

    Associate Professor Olga Sokurova submitted all documents (a contract with the Russian institute of art history, technical assignment thereto, the certificate of acceptance) confirming her participation in the scientific study "Theatre reform of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre in the light of spiritual traditions of the Russian culture".

    Associate Professor Sergei Zhestokanov was admitted to the contest on the basis of Contract № ЕД-141-(191540) for repayable teaching services with the University for the development of the online course "Lectures on general history" dated 26 November 2019, which under Para 1.3.5 of the Order equals a grant/contract. Besides, he submitted documents confirming repayable rendering services of expert assessment of manuscripts and quality assessment of translation from ancient languages under contract with OOO ‘"Humanitarian Academy" Publishing house’ dated 15 March 2021.

    All applicants indicated by Polina Tareeva submitted documents within the term stipulated for submission under Competition Announcement Order № 2155/1 dated 10 March 2022.

    Thus, the check did not find any violations in admitting the abovementioned persons to the contest (On the check of documents for the contest for filling positions; On the check of complaint about the admission of lecturers for the contest for the position of Associate Professor of the Institute of History; On contest for the position of Associate Professor of the Institute of History).

    Vladimir Eremeev also said that to provide for openness and transparency of the contest, all applicants are considered by the qualification commission — a collegial expert body which comprises both University employees and up to 60 % reputable specialists from other organisations. Such composition allows for comprehensive and independent assessment of the qualification of the applicants and transparency of the procedure for applicants and employees of the University.

    Acting Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    By Order № 4261 dated 8 April 2022, Danila Raskov, Associate Professor of the Department of Problems of Interdisciplinary Synthesis in Social Sciences and Humanities is relieved of his duties as the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

    Upon application of Aleksei Kudrin, Dean of the Faculty, during his absence, Nina Savchenkova, Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Practices in Arts, is appointed the Acting Dean of the Faculty by Order № 4261/2 dated 8 April 2022.

    Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector, said at the meeting that in cooperation with Vladimir Eremeev, Vice-Rector for Human Resources, and Elvira Zeletdinova, Vice-Rector for Teaching Methods, she is planning a meeting with heads of departments of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and then with all employees. These meetings are aimed at presenting the new acting Dean of the Faculty, and describing the procedure of eliminating violations found in the operation of the Faculty. Vice-Rectors would like to receive feedback from the faculty employees about work organisation.

    Clearing the illegally occupied places in the halls of residence at St Petersburg University

    Before 2008, the practice of accommodation of unauthorised persons in the halls of residence instead of students was widespread in the University. No transparent records of such unauthorised persons were held. According to Dmitrii Mikhailov, Deputy Senior Vice-Rector — Chief Engineer, in 2011, as a result of the inventory of housing carried out by a special commission, which included representatives of the Student Council and the Trade Union of the University employees, it was found out that unauthorised persons illegally occupy 1,272 places. The inspection resulted in measures to evict such persons.

    Since 2011, 1,153 places for students have been made available. Most occupants were evicted in pre-trial proceedings after explanatory talks given by employees in charge of the halls of residence of the University, the eviction of other 69 was conducted through court proceedings.

    In 2021–2022 nine unauthorised persons were evicted (35 places). In five cases, this required court proceedings. According to Dmitrii Mikhailov, not all unauthorised persons comply with the court rulings in due time, thus, in several cases, enforcement proceedings were required, and the issue was solved with the help of bailiffs. At present eviction of six persons is in the stage of enforcement proceedings. At present, 29 unauthorised persons (119 places) remain in the halls of residence. The eviction is underway.

    For the academic staff of the University, the stock of service housing was established. Service housing is provided to employees on the basis of rental agreements for the term of labour relations. At present, 49 members of the research and teaching staff have been provided with service housing.

    Preservation of property in the classrooms of St Petersburg University

    On 15 April, in the course of regular inspection of the University’s academic buildings, the staff members of the University’s Security Division found open unattended classroom on one of the floors. The key had been given to the University’s employee for classes yet had not been returned to the security after the end of the types. According to Dmitry Gryaznov, Deputy Rector for Security, in the inspection, damaged furniture and floor, glass, and other rubbish were found in the room.

    It happened because of a violation by the University employee of Para 3.9.8 of the "Regulations on security pass system and inter-facility control at the University" approved by Order of the Deputy Rector for Security No 4169/1 dated 24 April 2017 (as amended), which prohibits leaving open rooms unattended. The person guilty of that repaired the damage to the University.

    Dmitry Gryaznov again asked the directors and deans to familiarise themselves with the "Regulations on security pass system and inter-facility control in the University", comply with them and have their staff members comply with them, which will help safeguard the University students and employees and preserve the University’s property.

    New issue of the "St Petersburg University" magazine devoted to the 200th anniversary of education in Zoology in Russia

    The University continued to celebrate the Year of Zoology. On 15 April, a new issue of "St Petersburg University" magazine appeared in print, dedicated to 200 years of zoological education in Russia — in 1822, the specialised department of zoology, the first in the country, was established in St Petersburg University. Later, it formed the basis for many national scientific schools: ornithology, palaeontology, and environmental parasitology to name just a few.

    Articles range from those on unique biological collections of the University ("Fantastic beasts and where to find them"), the work at biological station "Belomorskaya" ("Science on the island"), modern research of the University scientists ("Is a human a friend to a mollusc?", "Bacteria in your pack"), to the joint project of the University and the State Hermitage Museum on studying images of butterflies on the objects in the museum’s collection ("Butterfly hunters").

    Professor Andrei Granovich, Head of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology, writes about the history of the first Russian Department of Zoology: what distinguished scientists worked there, and how the University zoologists influenced the studying of the animal kingdom ("The first zoological department"). Andrey Vishnyakov, Associate Professor in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology of the University, and Andrew Ostrovsky, Professor in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology of the University, tell the readers about studying the unique capabilities of bryozoa — unique aquatic animals living in sedentary colonies ("Bryozoa, Russian nesting dolls, bacteriophages and hedgehogs"). A contributor to the issue is Pavel Skutschas, a palaeontologist, Doctor of Biology, Associate Professor in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, and a science communicator ("I can’t be engaged in anything besides palaeontology").

    The editorial board of the magazine and the staff of the Public Relations Department of the University expressed gratitude to all staff of the Faculty of Biology who participated in the organisation of the issue: their assistance, support and active cooperation helped create a high-quality, correct and precise, and highly interesting popular science content.

    The e-version of the magazine can be found on the website of "The St Petersburg University" magazine.