Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

No. 522

    Developing of the document on academic integrity

    At the beginning of the year, the Association of Leading Universities, National Research Universities, Lomonosov Moscow State University, St Petersburg University, and the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District held a round table "Assessment using online invigilation". More than 140 representatives of leading Russian universities and representatives of federal agencies took part in the round table.

    As the Acting Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, Svetlana Begeza told at the Rector’s meeting, based on the results of the discussion, a decision was made to create a working group of the association to prepare a single standard and regulations for the use of remote invigilation for conducting assessment tests. Additionally, the initiative of St Petersburg University to create the League of Academic Integrity in the Russian Federation was supported (The Association of the Leading Universities discusses the future of invigilation and opening of the Association of Academic Integrity).

    As part of the preparatory phase of the work, information on the use of the online invigilation system in universities was collected and analysed. Proposals were received on candidates for the working group and possible areas of activity for the League of Academic Integrity. According to the results of the survey, more than 80% of universities supported the idea of creating unified recommendations/standards for the use of online invigilation and opening the League of Academic Integrity. Most universities are ready to become its participants. Additionally, these proposals were supported by the Federal Education and Science Supervision Agency. A letter of support for this initiative was received from St Petersburg University and the Association of Leading Universities.

    Svetlana Begeza noted that universities were interested in using and improving online invigilation system and training invigilators. More than 85% of the organisations that took part in the survey involved university staff who often did not have relevant skills. Remote invigilation is an additional responsibility to the main job duties of academic staff and administrative staff. In this regard, it seems that the previously announced online course on training invigilators developed by St Petersburg University and the Examus company may be in demand by the university community. Universities are also interested in improving the rules for passing assessment tests. Information has been collected on the current rules, the main typical violations that lead to a negative result for the assessment test.

    The working group proposed candidates for vice-rectors for academic activities of leading universities and officials (deputy vice-rectors, heads of departments and offices) responsible for digitalisation and e-learning; representatives of organisations providing remote invigilation and online learning services; and representatives of the Federal Service for the Supervision of Education and Science (Rosobrnadzor). A candidate from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation is expected.

    The working group is expected to have two subgroups. The first subgroup is set to work on the development of single rules for conducting assessment tests using an online invigilation system, while the second subgroup is set to work on the creation of the League of Academic Integrity.

    Proposals have already been received from higher education institutions on developing the fundamental principles of academic integrity and the scope of responsibilities of the League of Academic Integrity League, which will be taken into account to develop the concept of the League and its constituent documents.

    Based on the results of the preparatory stage, a draft roadmap for the work of the group was developed, and the proposals of the participating organisations were summarised. The group is scheduled to start its work in May.

    Directors and deans, chairpersons of the ethics committees, research committees and teaching methodology committees were instructed to submit proposals for the development of single rules for conducting assessment tests using the online invigilation system and for the creation of the League of Academic Integrity.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received ten enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Additionally, 16 enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register. The enquiries were on various topics, including: state academic scholarship; interim assessment; the format of the teaching and learning process.

    A student submitted an enquiry in the Virtual Reception. He enquired about the objectivity of the results of the competition for St Petersburg University students to take part in the academic mobility programmes in the 2022/23 academic year in connection with the student rankings for granting an increased state academic scholarship.

    According to the response to the enquiry, the applications for the increased state academic scholarship in the spring semester of the 2021/22 academic year could be submitted from 25 December 2021 to 2 February 2022. The applications to take part in the competition for academic mobility programmes in the 2022/23 academic year could be submitted from 14 January 2022 to 24 March 2022.

    During the competition, the following criteria and documents were taken into account:

    • proof of foreign language proficiency
    • the average score of the student for the period of study diplomas of participation in All-Russian Olympiads and competitions
    • diplomas confirming participation in conferences, publication of articles in Russian and international journals

    The documents submitted by students for academic mobility programmes are dated later than the deadlines for accepting documents for the increased state academic scholarship. These documents could not be taken into account when summing up the results for the increased state academic scholarship.

    The competition of the University of Salzburg, which the student enquired about, had only two places for study. Yet three applications were submitted for the competition. According to the results of the competition, the applicant who submitted the enquiry to the Virtual Reception took third place.

    According to the information from the heads of most academic and research subdivisions, classes are held according to the timetable in the prescribed manner.

    According to the information from the Dean of the School of International Relations, she received an enquiry from a master’s student from the Donetsk People’s Republic with a request to assist in leaving the Donetsk People’s Republic. The academic department provided the student with a certificate of student status, which is needed to leave the Donetsk People’s Republic for the Russian Federation.

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

    At the meeting with the Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts (Minutes of the meeting of the Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts with representatives of the Student Council and group leaders, heads of departments, heads of degree programmes), students made a proposal to resume the practice of holding concerts in the 2022/23 academic year with the participation of academic staff and students on the premises of St Petersburg University that are appropriately equipped. Among these premises are the Assembly Hall of the Twelve Collegia Building; the hall at 15, 6th Line, Vasilyevsky Island, and halls at 6 Birzhevaya Line, Vasilyevsky Island.

    During the meeting, the Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Biology (Minutes of the meeting of the Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Biology with the Chairperson of the Student Council) informed the students that it was decided to appoint curators for first-year students who transferred to the master’s programmes from other universities, including universities abroad, to ensure academic and social adaptation and to contact the scientific supervisors. Applicants will be selected from second-year master’s students or doctoral students who are fluent in English or other languages of the students.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process and other issues were discussed at the meetings with representatives of student councils, student scientific societies and heads of groups, heads of the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes, the Faculty of Sociology, the Faculty of Biology, the Institute of Chemistry, the Faculty of Philology, the College of Physical Training and Sports, Economics and Technology (the Minutes of the meeting are not formalised and not submitted for publication).

    Meetings of students with the heads of the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies and the Faculty of Economics were held.

    The survey of students on the quality of education

    The Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education at St Petersburg University plans to conduct a survey of students on their satisfaction with the conditions of study in academic programmes (the survey of students based on the results of the 2021/22 academic year) from 25 April to 22 May 2022. The survey will be conducted among students in the bachelor’s, master’s, specialist’s, and aspirantura (clinical residency) programmes and programmes of non-university level higher education.

    As Maiia Rusakova, Head of the St Petersburg University Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education, said, the methodology and data collection procedures were piloted as part of student surveys "On the organisation of the teaching and learning process" based on the results of three semesters: the spring semester of the 2019/20 academic year, the autumn and spring semesters of the 2020/21 academic year.

    In order to calculate the indicators of the internal evaluation of academic programmes, approved by Order № 4365/1 of the Vice-Rector for Teaching Methods "On approval of the list of planned indicators for the internal evaluation of academic programmes and the methodology for their calculation" dated 21 April 2022, the survey methodology includes the following sections:

    • on the compliance of the quality of training of specialists in the profile of the academic programme with the requirements of the labour market — for students of the last year of study (indicator 5.2.2)
    • on the conditions of study in the academic programme (indicator 5.2.3)
    • on the quality of teaching, the organisation of the teaching and learning process and the content of the academic programme (indicator 5.2.4) the results in this section in terms of student satisfaction with the quality of teaching are one of the indicators taken into account in the report on the implementation of indicators for the internal evaluation of the degree programme of the scientific supervisor of the academic programme, approved by Order № 6929/1 of the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods "On Approval of the Regulations on the Scientific Supervisor of the Academic Programme" dated 2 July 2021 

    The survey methodology takes into account the requests of the heads of some structural subdivisions of the University. The University Information Technology Service requested to take into account the use of the University’s information platforms and services by the University students. The M Gorky Scientific Library requested to take into account the use of the University students in the Library’s department. The Department for Youth Affairs requested to take into account the conditions provided to persons with disabilities and persons with health limitations to the teaching and learning process. A number of questions of the methodology focus on the involvement of students in the teaching and learning process, educational and extracurricular activities; seeking advice on various issues from the staff of the University subdivisions; and gratitude to academic staff and administrative staff. A section of the methodology focuses on the students of the last year of study and includes questions about the experience of studying in the academic programme and about employment.

    Maiia Rusakova added that the results of the survey would be used as part of an independent assessment of the quality of education. Additionally, they would be used in the process of making informed management decisions on improving the conditions and implementing the teaching and learning process for academic programmes at the University.

    Information about the survey will be communicated to students via corporate mail, the student’s Personal Account, the University electronic timetable, and also sent to the group and course heads.

    The Head of the Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education at St Petersburg University made a presentation on the role of the Monitoring Centre. She emphasised that the heads of academic and research subdivisions and scientific supervisors of academic programmes should be assisted in informing students about the survey.

    Meetings with students

    During the Rector’s meetings on 18 April 2022, 4 April 2022 and 14 March 2022, it was reported that there would be a meeting with each student in respect of whom the University received information from law enforcement agencies about bringing to administrative responsibility. Each meeting would include a committee that had the Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, Dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Dean of the Faculty of Law. At these meetings, students can present all the information they have about the circumstances of the incident and report on appealing the decision or on the intention to appeal against the decision on bringing to administrative responsibility (if there is such intention), or on the results of the appeal.

    According to Aleksandr Babich, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, the commission has held meetings with all students who have been brought to administrative responsibility and who are not on academic leave.

    The committee members met with 59 students. Among them there were 48 students who reported that they had no intention of participating in unauthorised activities. Eleven students reported that they came to an unauthorised event due to personal experiences because their relatives or friends were in Ukraine, or they wanted to express their position. All students said that they would not participate in unauthorised events. The committee also studied the previous behaviour of students. The students had not previously had disciplinary sanctions.

    Based on the results of these meetings, the committee recommended a disciplinary sanction in the form of a reprimand. The relevant draft orders regarding 37 students were sent for consideration to the Student Council, as noted at the Rector’s meeting on 18 April 2022. In relation to 13 students, the draft orders on disciplinary action in the form of a reprimand will also be sent to the Student Council in order to obtain its opinion.

    Additionally, information was sent to the Student Council that the previously recommended disciplinary sanction in the form of expulsion against nine students was replaced with a reprimand.

    Twelve St Petersburg University scientists are included in the list of the best scientists on the Research.com

    As part of the Rector’s meeting on 21 February 2022, information was provided on the inclusion of three employees of St Petersburg University in the rankings of the best scientists in the field of mathematics on the Research.com portal (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 21 February 2022).

    According to Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, the leading academic platform for researchers Research.com published rankings of the best scientists from various countries in the following fields: Plant Science and Agronomy; Microbiology; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Mathematics; Materials Science; Genetics and Molecular Biology; Environmental Sciences; Engineering and Technology; Electronics and Electrical Engineering; Economics and Finance Scientists; Ecology and Evolution; Earth Sciences; Computer Science; Chemistry; Business and Management; Biology and Biochemistry; and Animal Science and Veterinary.

    When compiling the rankings, the indicators of the H-index provided by the Microsoft Academic Graph are taken into account. The H-index evaluates the productivity of scientists based on the number of publications and their citations. Other indicators of the scientific achievements of scientists in the relevant field are taken into account. Their profiles are presented in Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Graph.

    The rankings include 209 scientists from Russia, including 12 scientists from St Petersburg University:

    • Nikolay Kuznetsov (3rd place out of 31 in the Russian Federation, 312th place in the world ranking) — Professor, Head of the Department of Applied Cybernetics, a highly cited researcher according to the Web of Science (WoS) in 2019, 2020, and 2021
    • Gennady Leonov (13th place out of 31 in the Russian Federation, 1,060th place in the world rankings) — Professor (died in 2018), a highly cited researcher according to the Web of Science (WoS) in 2019, 2020, 2021
    • Mikhail Ioffe (24th place out of 31 in the Russian Federation, 1,956th place in the world rankings) — Professor, Head of the Department of High Energy Physics and Elementary Particles
    Materials Science
    • Vladimir Dubrovskii (10th place out of 26 in the Russian Federation, 4,447th place in the world rankings) — Professor in the Department of Solid State Physics (affiliation with ITMO is indicated, in connection with which an appeal was sent to the Research.com about changing affiliation)
    Genetics and Molecular Biology
    • Alla Lapidus (3rd place out of 13 in the Russian Federation, 920th place in the world rankings) — Professor in the Department of Cytology and Histology, Head of the Centre for Bioinformatics and Algorithmic Biotechnology
    Electronics and Electrical Engineering
    • Alexander Fradkov (1st place out of 5 in the Russian Federation, 1,476th place in the world rankings) — Professor in the Department of Theoretical Cybernetics
    • Alexey Matveev (5th place out of 5 in the Russian Federation, 3,819th place in the world rankings) — Professor in the Department of Theoretical Cybernetics
    Earth Sciences
    • Viktor Sergeev (2nd place out of 18 in the Russian Federation, 852nd place in the world rankings) — Professor in the Department of Physics of Earth
    • Nikolai Tsyganenko (9th place out of 18 in the Russian Federation, 3,514th place in the world rankings) — Associate Professor in the Department of Physics of Earth
    • Anatoly Zaitsev (17th place out of 18 in the Russian Federation, 5,826th place in the world rankings) — Professor in the Department of Mineralogy
    • Vadim Kukushkin (7th place out of 51 in the Russian Federation, 3,704th place in the world rankings) — Professor in the Department of Physical Organic Chemistry
    • Andrei Legin (38th place out of 51 in the Russian Federation, 10,568th place in the world rankings) — Senior Research Associate in the Department of Radiochemistry (until 30 December 2021)

    The rankings include 79 scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences; 32 scientists from Lomonosov Moscow State University; 15 scientists from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech); 12 scientists from St Petersburg University; 3 scientists from the National Research University Higher School of Economics; 3 scientists from Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University; and 1 scientist from ITMO University.

    Sergey Mikushev drew the attention of academic staff to the need to update information in their accounts on Google Scholar.

    Developments of chemists at St Petersburg University

    At the Rector’s meeting, two developments by chemists of St Petersburg University in various areas were reported.

    The scientists from St Petersburg University and researchers from N. D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry at the Russian Academy of Sciences developed a ‘pipe in pipe’ reactor. It ensures the efficient flow of chemical reactions without the use of external heaters. This approach significantly reduces energy costs in chemical research. The results of the work, supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation, were published in the International Journal of Molecular Science.

    A new type of reactor developed by scientists provides a more efficient reaction of calcium carbide hydrolysis, i.e. the interaction of calcium and carbon compounds with water. Today, calcium carbide is actively used in industry to produce gaseous acetylene and in the production of acetic acid, ethyl alcohol, plastics, rubber, and even rocket engines. Detailed information about the study is published on the St Petersburg University website.

    Another project that the University chemists are currently working on is the development of drugs in the field of oncology and inflammatory disorders together with ChemRar High-Tech Centre.

    Within the framework of the cooperation agreement with the large pharmaceutical company ChemRar High-Tech Centre, scientists from St Petersburg University carry out a research project to synthesise substances for medicinal chemistry. The partnership includes training students, postgraduate students, and staff in the practical field of modern pharmaceuticals.

    The joint work of the research group of St Petersburg State University and ChemRar High-Tech Centre has been going on since the beginning of 2022. During these few months, the University chemists synthesised seven bioactive substances by unravelling the methods described in the patents. Detailed information about the project is published on the St Petersburg University website.

    St Petersburg University’s expert evaluations on the use of QR codes during the pandemic

    In January 2022, Aleksandr Abrosimov, Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs of St Petersburg, announced his plans to check the lawfulness of using QR codes during the pandemic with the help of experts from St Petersburg University (St Petersburg University experts review lawfulness of QR codes).

    The St Petersburg University Centre for Expert Advice, at the request of the commissioner, assessed the conditions for doing business during the pandemic; the problems that businessmen faced in 2021; and the lawfulness and validity of the decision of the Government of St Petersburg to introduce QR codes.

    Sociologists, economists, and lawyers from St Petersburg University worked on the expert evaluation. In the course of the study, the experts found that about a third of the respondents suffered from the introduction of QR codes and faced a shortage of personnel. The experts concluded that the actions of the Government of St Petersburg to introduce QR codes in the city to stop the spread of COVID-19 were reasonable and legal.

    Detailed information about the expert evaluations is available on the University website (St Petersburg University experts review lawfulness of QR codes and their impact on business in St Petersburg).

    Decision of the Ethics Committee on Aleksandr Egorov

    Andrei Reznikov, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Geography and Landscape Design at St Petersburg University, addressed the Ethics Committee with a request to evaluate from the ethical point of view the actions of the Head of the Department of Biogeography and Environmental Protection Aleksandr Egorov. Mr Egorov is also the head of the working group for the implementation of research under contract № 01/1-55 −56-SPbU ‘Substantiation of boundaries, the regime of protection and forest management in the territory of the regional reserve "Upper reaches of the Sondala River" planned for creation within the boundaries of the lease of Petrovles Podporozhye, the customer of which is a large logging company Metsä Forest Podporozhye’ (Decision of the Ethics Committee dated 4 February 2022).

    Based on the results of consideration of this issue, the Ethics Committee decided to consider that Aleksandr Egorov, as the head of the team for implementing the contract with the company Metsä Forest Podporozhye violated the norms of research ethics during the execution of the final documents. Aleksandr Egorov recognised the correctness of this decision.

    Based on the decision of the Ethics Committee, at the suggestion of the Director of the Institute of Earth Sciences Kirill Chistiakov, Aleksandr Egorov is dismissed as Head of the Department of Biogeography and Environmental Protection at St Petersburg University from 1 April 2022.

    International activities of St Petersburg University

    At the recent Rector’s meetings, the participants reviewed the international activities of St Petersburg University (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 14 March 2022, 21 March 2022, 28 March 2022, 4 April 2022, 11 April 2022). Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, reported on a number of new events that took place last week.

    Meeting between the Rector of St Petersburg University and the President of Harbin Institute of Technology

    On 19 April, Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, and Han Jiecai, President of Harbin Institute of Technology, held a meeting during which the Chinese delegation delivered a presentation on the construction progress of the joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin (the People’s Republic of China). The major renovation of 53 cultural heritage buildings has been completed, and interior finishings, power supply, drainage and heating works are underway. The interior works of all the buildings are scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2022. The joint campus will also include educational and research facilities, a cultural and artistic centre, an international academic exchange centre, and halls of residence.

    The agreement establishing the joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology was signed on 16 September 2019 during the 20th meeting of the Russian-Chinese Commission for Humanitarian Cooperation attended by Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, and Sun Chunlan, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.

    The ceremonial laying of the first stone of the joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology took place in Harbin on 7 June 2020 (St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology start building a joint campus in China). It was attended by Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, Wang Wentao, Governor of the People’s Government of Heilongjiang Province, Zhou Yu, President of Harbin Institute of Technology, and other officials. The joint campus, which will combine the resources of the two universities, will occupy an area of about 60,000 square metres in the historical and cultural centre of Harbin. The joint Chinese-Russian campus will be partially located in the restored historic buildings of the Chinese Eastern Railway and the Consulate General of the Russian Empire. The new campus facilities will be designed to integrate with the historic buildings.

    The first students will be able to apply for three bachelor’s programmes in chemistry, physics, and applied mathematics. All academic programmes include the compulsory study of Russian as a foreign language, Russian history and a number of other disciplines included in the educational standard of St Petersburg University.

    The information support for the admission campaign will be launched in May 2022, and the first enrolment of students to the joint university campus is scheduled for September 2022. More information is provided in the presentation "Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation between St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology" prepared by the Chinese partners (presentation).

    Academic meeting between St Petersburg University and Capital Normal University (the People’s Republic of China)

    Representatives of St Petersburg University and Capital Normal University held an academic meeting on 18 April, bringing together experts on theory and methods of teaching languages and cultures, visual arts, design, information systems in the arts and humanities, mathematics and physics. The experts presented their respective fields of work, exchanged views on developing academic programmes in a networked form, and discussed the establishment of a joint Russian-Chinese institute of translation at St Petersburg University and Capital Normal University.

    Meeting on the establishment of St Petersburg University branches in Cairo (the Arab Republic of Egypt) and Riyadh (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

    At a meeting with representatives of the Modern Group on 19 April, the participants discussed the opening of a branch of St Petersburg University in Cairo (the Arab Republic of Egypt) and Riyadh (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). During the talks, Waleed Mohammad Nabil Daabas, General Director of the Modern Group, informed that the Ministry of Education and Technical Education of the Arab Republic of Egypt has granted permission to open a branch of St Petersburg University in Cairo. The Egyptian partners expect a formal document to be received soon. Waleed Mohammad Nabil Daabas also noted that a preliminary agreement to open a branch of St Petersburg University in Riyadh has been reached with a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family. The Egyptian partners are going to prepare a financial and economic feasibility report for the project (St Petersburg University establishes a branch in Egypt).

    The Modern Group has proposed to develop a joint roadmap and work according to the agreed plan. The Egyptian partners expect to launch academic programmes at the newly established branches in two stages. In the first stage, they intend to introduce the programmes "General Medicine", "Dental Medicine" and "Pharmacy", and subsequently add the programmes "Physiotherapy" and "Nursing".

    In the course of the talks, the experts discussed the specific aspects of implementing academic programmes in the field of medicine in the Russian Federation and the Arab Republic of Egypt. As a result of the meeting, it was agreed to continue work within the specialised groups in the respective areas.

    Survey of international students

    Outgoing mobility 

    In the autumn semester of the 2021/22 academic year, St Petersburg University assigned 327 students to 140 partner universities from 32 countries (Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Korea, and Finland to name just a few). Sixteen more students took part in the online study programme of one of the host universities while remaining in Russia.

    The questionnaire was completed by 82 students who had studied abroad at universities in Leipzig, Hanover, Greifswald, and Erfurt, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany); the University of Lausanne (Switzerland); the University of Bologna (Italy); Korea University (the Republic of Korea); and Peking University of the People’s Republic of China to name just a few.

    The vast majority of students (78 people) found their experience of inclusive study most beneficial and were satisfied with the quality of education at the partner institutions. Three students reported some difficulties in communication and adaptation with the partner institution, but on the whole, considered their study abroad experience successful, one student expressed dissatisfaction.

    Among the main difficulties encountered at the host institutions, students mention difficulties in coordinating subjects in the curriculum, technical difficulties in registering for courses at the partner institution, and language barriers. Several students drew attention to the difficulty of obtaining a European vaccination code in the host country, and the need to undergo a mandatory costly quarantine on arrival or take an antibody test. At the end of the inclusive studies, some students, mostly located in higher education institutions in Germany, encountered banking (financial) problems: difficulties in transferring money and malfunctions in online banking applications. However, 41 students reported no problems.

    Among the main difficulties encountered at St Petersburg University, students mentioned problems with obtaining credits and the transfer of grades to the Russian grading system. Fifty-two respondents said that they had not encountered any difficulties at the University. Thirty-one students expressed their particular gratitude to St Petersburg University for the remarkable work, coordination of all processes, assistance and support in resolving any issues. The students were very satisfied with the organisation and assistance provided by the University.

    Incoming mobility 

    In the autumn semester of the 2021/22 academic year, St Petersburg University admitted 287 students from 110 partner universities for inclusive education (in-person and distance learning), including those on a fee-paying basis. A total of 39 students from the universities of Bologna (Italy), the Vienna University of Economics and Business (Austria), the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, Freie Universität Berlin, the Technical University of Munich and Technische Universität Dresden (Germany), Osaka University (Japan), Hosei University (the Republic of Korea), and others participated in the survey.

    Governmental Order No 635p imposed restrictions on entry into the Russian Federation until September 2021. Since September, however, an entry has been permitted for students from all countries, regardless of the availability of flight connections. Consequently, most of the students from the partner universities arrived for on-campus studies at St Petersburg University, as one of the important aspects of inclusive education is the cultural component and immersion in the language environment.

    Among the negative aspects of the inclusive education the students mentioned: shifts in schedules (on-campus/online) and differences in tuition systems and schedules between St Petersburg University and partner universities, exposure to coronavirus, quarantine in halls of residence and restrictions imposed due to the spread of coronavirus in St Petersburg in autumn 2021 (for example, no access to theatres or museums with foreign vaccination certificates).

    Students gave positive feedback on the Russian language programmes and academic staff teaching Russian as a foreign language, Erasmus Student Network and the Buddy Programme. Students also made particular mention of such disciplines as Intercultural Communication, New World Order, Doing Business in Russia, and Arms Control Studies to name just a few. Overall, 32 students out of 39 expressed their satisfaction and said that they would recommend St Petersburg University to other students for an exchange programme.

    The first meeting of the Association of Law Universities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

    Representatives of St Petersburg University took part in the first meeting of the Association of Law Universities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). At the meeting, representatives of the universities from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan discussed the development of joint projects. During the meeting, members of the Association made proposals on the training of specialists through joint programmes and the involvement of employers in developing programmes, organising student internships, practical training, working on academic articles and publications, and conducting legal research in the trade and economic sphere (St Petersburg University joins the Association of Law Universities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation).

    Involvement of St Petersburg University in the creation of the Russian-language encyclopaedia of Iranian Studies

    On the initiative of Mehdi Sanaei, CEO of the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies and former Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Russian Federation, and in partnership with St Petersburg University, a popular science portal dedicated to Iran has been created. The aim of the project is to provide a Russian-speaking audience with information not only about Iranian history and culture, but also about contemporary Iranian policy, economy, and society. At the same time, the Russian language is seen in a broader perspective as a means of communication not only for people living in Russia but also around the world: from Central Asia and the Caucasus to Europe and the countries of North and Latin America. The portal focuses on the contemporary development of Iran and its cultural relations with the world (St Petersburg University participates in the creation of a Russian-language encyclopaedia of Iranian Studies).

    As a partner on the Russian side, St Petersburg University joined the working group to create the encyclopaedia on 25 July 2021, when a memorandum of understanding was signed, with the participation of: Mehdi Sanaei, CEO of the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies; Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences; Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi, Rector of the University of Tehran; and Russian and Iranian scientists.

    Electronic submission of applications to the Commission on Export Control of St Petersburg University

    ResearchIMS 2.0 information system has been used to develop a module for electronic submission of materials to the Commission on Export Control of St Petersburg University (CEC).

    The main purpose of the CEC is to prevent the transfer of raw materials, materials, equipment, scientific and technical information, works, services, results of intellectual activities (rights to them) in the process of scientific and technological cooperation with foreign countries, which due to their features and properties may contribute to the creation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery vehicles, other types of armaments and military equipment, and products that constitute a particular danger as regards preparation and/or commission of terrorist acts and may harm national interests and international obligations of the Russian Federation.

    The service for electronic submissions to the CEC has been part of the St Petersburg University Strategic Plan 2021-2030 with the aim of developing infrastructure and governance through the digital transformation of the University to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the CEC review process of materials featuring elements of controlled technology. The service is available to staff and students of St Petersburg University via a single account. It allows the applicant to track all stages of their application, receive expert comments in a timely manner, and, if necessary, respond promptly to the comments received.

    Employees of St Petersburg University involved in the export control process also gain access to the system via their single account. To increase the speed of processing the application, notifications will also be sent to their emails to notify them of the need to review the materials for each request initiated by the authorised persons.

    The electronic application module will be implemented in a phased manner to make the transition process more seamless:

    • during the first phase, until 31 May 2022, applications may be submitted to the CEC in paper and electronic form
    • since 1 June 2022, all operations shall be conducted electronically

    The service is accessed via ResearchIMS 2.0, then select "Commission on Export Control" from the "Services" menu. To obtain more detailed documentation on how to use the service, use the following address. The support is provided by e-mail: support@researchims.ru, with the subject line starting with "CEC:".

    Enhancing cooperation between St Petersburg University and the Republic of Uzbekistan

    The delegation of St Petersburg University, consisting of Aleksandr Babich, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, and Dmitry Ptyushkin, Director of the Language Testing Centre, visited the Republic of Uzbekistan (Tashkent) on 20-22 April to discuss the University branch in Tashkent and joint educational projects. During the visit, the delegation held working meetings with Mikhail Vozhdaev, Head of the Russian House in Tashkent, Komiljon Karimov, First Deputy Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education of Uzbekistan, Sardor Rajabov, Deputy Director of the State Testing Centre under the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan, Zokhidjon Askarov, Head of the Department of External Labour Migration and Programmes for the Reintegration of Returned Labour Migrants, and Gulchehra Rikhsieva, Rector of the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies.

    Changes in human resources

    During the Rector’s meeting, it was announced that Dmitry Shkarupa, Assistant Director for Medical Care Administration at the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies (outpatient and inpatient departments) has been appointed Senior Deputy Director of the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies (outpatient and inpatient departments).

    Yuri Fedotov, Associate Professor in the Department of Operations Management, has been appointed Senior Deputy Director of the Graduate School of Management at St Petersburg University, effective 6 May 2022.

    Remuneration of academic staff

    Professor Mariia Lagutina has written to the Virtual Reception with a proposal to include work with doctoral students in the teaching workload, arguing that she has a high number of doctoral students under her supervision. Vladimir Eremeev, Vice-Rector for Human Resources, noted that the issue of including individual work with students in the academic workload has already been discussed several times, including Rector’s meetings (Minutes of Rector’s meeting dated 13 April 2015).

    He noted that the number of doctoral students cannot serve as an indicator of academic work with individual students or of the efficiency of this work. Work with doctoral students is a further, or rather a different form of research work of an academic staff member set out in the employment contract. Therefore, it is not advisable to include average, approximate amounts of work in the academic workload. On the other hand, incentives for academic supervisors should be and are provided by separate payments for meeting a relevant academic performance indicator, for example, the timely defence of the dissertation by an doctoral student, while active work with students who show good results constitutes the basis for awarding incentive payments from the funds allocated by the heads of academic and research subdivisions.

    Professor Mariia Lagutina further proposed considering payments for participation in the dissertation councils of St Petersburg University. Vladimir Eremeev noted that participation in dissertation councils is an integral part of the work of the academic staff and should be carried out on a par with the academic workload and teaching and methodological work under the standard working schedule (36 hours per week) at the rate of pay. The participation in the work of dissertation councils of St Petersburg University is periodic in nature, which makes it impossible to consider a fixed payment for this type of professional activity. Furthermore, additional payment for participation in meetings to members of dissertation councils would be contrary to the basic principles of their formation (see: Academic Degrees at St Petersburg University).

    The participants have also discussed other activities of the academic staff (classroom and extracurricular) and their remuneration options. Tatiana Chernigovskaya, Director of the Institute for Cognitive Studies, asked how the preparation of online courses would factor into the election process. Vladimir Eremeev replied that it counted as the equivalent of a grant. Elena Kazakova, Director of the Institute of Pedagogy, said that to be elected to the position of Associate Professor, a candidate should have educational and methodological publications, but preparing online courses does not qualify (with reference to restrictions of the Higher Assessment Committee), so some candidates for the position write formal methodologies. The Rector has instructed the Standing Teaching Methodology Committee of the Academic Council of St Petersburg University to discuss the issue and make recommendations on including online courses in the election criteria.

    Proposal by Associate Professor Mikhail Evsevev on an academic lapel pin for honoured University students and staff

    Mikhail Evsevev, Associate Professor at the Institute of History, has made a proposal regarding the possibility of awarding honoured university students and staff, in addition to the St Petersburg University Medal, with a lapel pin of the same shape as the large medal, but of a smaller size. The rectangular lapel pin, covered with a silk ribbon in the main colours of the Twelve Collegia Building, could be worn on a civilian suit. Mikhail Evsevev believes that it will raise the significance of this university distinction, and increase its recognition and the cultural, educational and honorary value of the medal.

    The heads of academic departments were instructed to discuss this initiative by 11 May and submit proposals on its relevance, including proposals on other possible insignia in view of the approaching anniversary of St Petersburg University.

    Amendments to St Petersburg Government Order № 121 dated 13 March 2021

    Following the instructions from the Chief State Sanitary Inspector of St Petersburg, on 22 April, Governor Alexander Beglov signed a resolution amending the St Petersburg Government Order № 121 "On measures to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) in St Petersburg" dated 13 March 2020.

    The resolution allows, as of 25 April:

    1. individual visits to museums and exhibitions and guided group tours of more than 20 people
    2. entertainment events at karaoke, bars and other catering outlets
    3. visiting dance floors, cultural, entertainment, sports and physical education events by visitors with reserved seats, and the sale of tickets without an indication of a spectator seat
    4. entertainment and recreational events on riverboats
    5. cultural and entertainment events of more than 300 people in any venue, including outdoors, subject to the approval by the Committee for Culture of St Petersburg (currently held only in theatres, circuses, cinemas and concert halls).

    However, other restrictions (wearing masks, and thermometry at the entrance to name just a few) are extended until 15 May.

    Sports facilities

    The previous Rector’s meeting discussed the operation of the sports clubs at St Petersburg University (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 18 April 2022). The participants raised the issue of the condition of the sports grounds on the premises of the University.

    Dmitrii Mikhailov, Deputy Senior Vice-Rector — Chief Engineer, reminded the participants that between 2012 and 2013 the outdoor sports grounds for volleyball, basketball and football located in the Petrodvortsovy District on the territory of the campus had been renovated. The sports grounds were equipped with modern crumb rubber surfacing and sports equipment. The grounds also hosted all-season outdoor fitness equipment, tennis tables, and horizontal bars (On the efficiency of appointing a student as Campus Director: revised 15 October 2013).

    Dmitrii Mikhailov informed that since then, the grounds had been actively used by the students residing in the halls of residence for sports activities in their free time, as well as for sports festivals and events. Staff members in the halls of residence have done regular maintenance and repairs to the grounds, which has prolonged their useful lifespan. However, natural wear and tear makes it necessary to carry out major repairs to these facilities.

    At the moment, the basketball court is closed and cannot be used due to the poor condition of the flooring and equipment. Its repair is planned to take place this year. The football pitch is scheduled for repair in 2023. The volleyball court has been renovated after the winter period and shall be available starting 22 April.

    Organising public spaces in the halls of residence

    There is a continuing initiative to create extracurricular and recreational spaces in the halls of residence.

    Dmitrii Mikhailov, Deputy Senior Vice-Rector — Chief Engineer, informed the participants of a co-working facility opened in November 2021 in Hall of Residence № 16 (A new co-working space for students in a hall of residence in Peterhof). Dmitrii Mikhailov noted that young people use the facility not only to study, but also to meet and socialise with their fellow students.

    In March 2022, the University renovated the assembly room in Hall of Residence № 3 (20/1 Korablestroitelei Street), which is now used for cultural events and student dance studios.

    On 22 April, a new 143.8 square metre co-working space was commissioned in hall of residence No 12. This facility can be used for collaborative work, socialising, board games, and organising educational or extracurricular activities. It is a transformer space, which makes it possible to arrange a convenient format to suit different purposes. The room is equipped with comfortable upholstered furniture, tables, chairs, presentation boards and a tennis table. Wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) is also available. In order to ensure control of public order, the room has CCTV surveillance (Opening a co-working space in Hall of Residence № 12).

    There are catering facilities next to the co-working spaces. For example, there is a food shop in Hall of Residence No 16 and a canteen in Hall of Residence № 12.

    Dmitrii Mikhailov noted the involvement of students residing in the halls of residence in the project. They assisted the staff of the halls of residence in accepting construction works and arranging the furniture.

    The co-working spaces are accessible on a 24/7 basis, and students can visit them at any time using an e-card for access to the hall of residence.