Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

No. 525
16.05.2022

    RUR 2022: St Petersburg University improves its position in terms of the financial sustainability indicators

    Once again, St Petersburg University has shown a growth in financial sustainability indicators. In just a year, the University has moved up 98 positions by this criterion in the RUR World University Ranking (RUR 2022: St Petersburg University improves its position in terms of the financial sustainability indicators).

    The ranking evaluates the performance of several hundred world’s top universities according to 20 indicators that measure four areas of university activity: teaching; research; international diversity; and financial sustainability. Over the 12 years of its existence, 1,150 leading universities from 85 countries have participated in the rankings.

    The growth of the financial sustainability indicators of St Petersburg University is closely correlated with the implementation of the St Petersburg University Strategic Plan 2021-2030. The programme is aimed at improving the efficiency of all types of the University’s activities that provide solutions to the issues of our time.

    Among the priority areas of the programme are: the participation of the University in the socio-economic development of St Petersburg, the Leningrad Region and the Northwestern Federal District; the implementation of joint educational projects; and the expertise at the request of the authorities to name just a few.

    St Petersburg University also contributes to implementing the Strategy for the Improvement of Financial Literacy in the Russian Federation for 2017–2023. Today, specialists of the St Petersburg University Centre for Financial Literacy advise students and employees of the University on loans, various types of investments, business insurance, and pension to name just a few. Additionally, St Petersburg University has been holding a financial dictation for five years. Last year, more than 400 University students studying in various fields took part in it.

    St Petersburg University online courses also contribute to improving the population’s financial literacy. Among them are: the basic course "Financial Literacy", which will help students calculate their expenses; and the course "Financial Fraud Countermeasures and Individual Risk Management", which will enable students to detect financial fraud and protect their savings accounts.

    The work of the Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education at St Petersburg University

    The St Petersburg University Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education was established in September 2020. It is one of the subdivisions that focus on monitoring the quality of the educational activities at St Petersburg University. As Maiia Rusakova, Head of the Centre, said, it focuses on three key areas. Among them are: activities within the annual calendar of independent assessment of the quality of education; additional activities within the framework of the road map of the Centre’s activities; and activities within the framework of the implementation of operational requests and instructions.

    As part of the annual calendar of the independent assessment of the quality of education, the Centre conducts surveys among various participants in the educational process. These include two surveys of students: 1) on satisfaction with the conditions of study in the academic programme; 2) on the quality of teaching and organisation of the teaching and learning process in disciplines and surveys of academic staff, administrative staff, graduates and employers. As part of the roadmap of events, the Centre’s employees conduct surveys among applicants and last-year students. The third area of the Centre’s work is activities within the framework of the implementation of operational requests and instructions. In other words, academic programmes or disciplines are evaluated.

    Reports on the results of the surveys among applicants and students are published on the official page on the University website and in the VKontakte group of the Monitoring Centre to make them available to all research participants.

    Although there were difficulties in the teaching and learning process associated with the use of information and communication technologies, the surveys conducted by the Centre showed positive results. Students and alumni reported successes and difficulties in the learning process and expressed their gratitude to academic staff and employees of academic departments.

    Now, as part of the annual calendar of events for the independent assessment of the quality of education, the Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education is conducting a survey of students on satisfaction with the conditions of study (The survey of students based on the results of the 2021/22 academic year has started at St Petersburg University). It includes a survey of last-year students. Following the request of the Director of the M. Gorky Scientific Library, the survey includes questions about satisfaction with the work of the library. Following the request of the Department for Youth Affairs, the survey includes questions about the conditions of the learning process for people with disabilities and people with health limitations.

    The survey of students on satisfaction with the conditions of study will be conducted annually from April to May. The questionnaire will include questions at the request of officials and structural subdivisions of the University. Maiia Rusakova drew the attention of the heads of the academic and research subdivisions to the fact that, at present, the involvement of students is insufficient. It is necessary to draw the attention of students to take a survey. She paid special attention to the ongoing survey of last-year students, in which a block of questions is devoted to the results of the teaching and learning process in academic programmes.

    The survey will be conducted until 25 May 2022. As of 14 May 2022, only 2,293 students took part in the survey. A survey of employers on the quality of education of graduates is also currently being conducted.

    In 2022, it is planned to conduct a survey of graduates of previous years, a survey of applicants, and a survey of academic staff. Additionally, it is planned to continue a pilot survey of students on the quality of teaching and the organisation of the teaching and learning process in the disciplines at several academic and research subdivisions. Additionally, it is planned to develop a questionnaire for interviewing administrative staff.

    In June, a survey of applicants will begin. The Centre is ready to include questions on the requests of officials. For example, last year, the survey of applicants included questions about their readiness to use an educational loan and plans for living during the study.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received 16 enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Additionally, three enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register. The enquiries were on various topics, including: using the text of the graduation project for writing a dissertation.

    According to Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, as of 16 May 2022, 121 applicants applied to St Petersburg University with questions about transferring from foreign universities. In accordance with Decree № 434 of the Government of the Russian Federation dated 21 March 2022, and letter № MN-5/927-DA of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation dated 01 March 2022, St Petersburg University accepts applications for academic transfer of citizens of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic, and the Lugansk People’s Republic; Russian citizens who were forced to leave the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, and Ukraine and arrived in the Russian Federation; and Russian citizens who expressed a desire to transfer from foreign educational organisations in states that are included in the list approved by Order № 430-r of the Government of the Russian Federation in connection with hostile actions. The enrolment orders were issued for 18 students for academic transfer from a foreign educational organisation in the following areas: state and municipal administration; political science; tourism; geology; history; arts and humanities; advertising and public relations; psychology; management; business informatics; design; philology; international relations; and economics. Orders were also issued on the admission to classes of 15 students recommended for enrolment as a result of academic transfer from a foreign educational organisation. The University conducts systematic work with such applicants.

    On 12 May 2022, the state final assessment 2022 started at St Petersburg University. In the 2021/22 academic year, the first students to pass the state final assessment were 14 students in Geoinformation Mapping. It was 12 May 2022. State exams and defences of graduation projects for all University academic programmes are scheduled from 12 May to 7 July 2022 (the timetable is available here). According to information from the heads of most academic and research subdivisions, classes, tests, and assessments are held according to the timetable in the prescribed manner.

    A second-year bachelor’s student in International Relations submitted an enquiry related to the timetable of tests. This timetable overlaps with classes and tests at the Military Training Centre at St Petersburg University. Following the student’s enquiry, the Academic Office prepared a draft order to provide him with an individual timetable of tests and exams.

    Another enquiry was received from an international student with a question about the possibility of passing an interim assessment in a remote format using information and telecommunication technologies. The student has objective reasons why he cannot come to St Petersburg. It was noted that such issues had been previously clarified.

    International students who, for objective reasons, cannot come to St Petersburg must send an application from their corporate e-mail address to the head or deputy head of the academic office in the relevant field of study. The question of the format of the interim assessment will be solved on a case-by-case basis. If necessary, the possibility of obtaining an academic leave or an individual learning schedule can be considered.

    Those students who will be sick on the day of the exam or test, in accordance with the Academic Regulations (article 4.3.4), must send a certificate of illness to the head of the academic office. The dates for assessment will be reconsidered. The certificate must be sent no later than three working days after the date of issue of the document.

    Information on the teaching and learning process was not received from the heads of the Graduate School of Management and the Medical College.

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

    Students met with the heads of the School of International Relations; the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes; the Faculty of Foreign Languages (the minutes of the meeting were not formalised and not submitted for publication).

    Information about the interaction with the student activists was not received from the heads of the Graduate School of Management and the Medical College.

    Measures aimed at increasing the number of dissertations defended by graduates for the degree of Candidate of Sciences

    In order to implement the measures aimed at increasing the number of dissertations defended by postgraduate students for the degree of Candidate of Sciences, amendments are being prepared to Order № 1410/1 "On establishing analytical features / codes for accounting for awards of academic staff at St Petersburg University" dated 20 March 2014. In particular, code 60015 is being introduced, i.e. "Guidance for aspirantura students and independent aspirantura students who defended their dissertations on time and their scientific guidance".

    As Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, said, incentive payment under code 60015 is carried out once for each dissertation defended on time. Incentive payment should be paid to academic staff who supervised aspirantura students and independent aspirantura students who defended dissertations on time during the reporting period and their scientific guidance.

    The formation of information that is the basis for an incentive payment under code 60015 is as follows: quarterly, before the 20th day of the last month of the reporting quarter, the Research Support Service prepares information for an incentive payment for academic staff at St Petersburg University under code 60015 (hereinafter referred to as the responsible employee); verifies the data submitted by the employees of the department for ensuring the activities of dissertation councils, the department of contractual scientific work of the Research Support Service; and forms lists of candidates for incentive payment.

    The Vice-Rector for Research approves the list of academic staff who provided scientific guidance during the reporting period to aspirantura students and independent aspirantura students who defended dissertations on time and their scientific guidance.

    Each supervisor of an aspirantura student (independent aspirantura student ) receives an incentive payment corresponding to the basic incentive payment multiplied by the number of aspirantura students or independent aspirantura students who successfully defended their dissertations in the reporting period whose research work is supervised by the academic staff. The basic incentive payment is understood as an incentive payment of 150,000 roubles.

    As an additional motivational measure, an order is being prepared to hold a contest for targeted positions to fill the position of assistant lecturers for persons who have completed a doctoral programme and defended their dissertations on time.

    Sergey Mikushev recalled that during the Rector’s meeting on 31 January 2022, the participants discussed the issue of allocating corporate accommodation to doctoral students in order to implement the St Petersburg University Strategic Plan 2021–2030. They also discussed implementation of measures to support young scientists, create conditions for building a successful career in areas of science, technology and innovation, and increasing the prestige of research.

    The participants of the meeting emphasised that admission to government-funded places in doctoral programmes should be carried out more carefully (for example, to accept those who have the necessary groundwork in research). It was noted that some students pursue postgraduate studies to receive a deferment from military service. Others do not want to prepare dissertations and prefer a practice-oriented career rather than an academic one. They also talked about the need to introduce criteria for assessing the current work of postgraduate students (for example, the mandatory publication of scientific articles on the topic of a future dissertation); regular assessment every year; and the expulsion of those who do not fulfil the requirements of the academic programme. As a result of the discussion, the Rector instructed the Vice-Rector for Research to study the assessment of postgraduate students and the requirements for them. Directors and deans were instructed to study the need for government-funded places for each doctoral programme (in order to increase the number of doctoral students who will be invited to participate in the competition for position of assistant lecturer at St Petersburg University after defending a dissertation).

    The directors and deans were instructed to send proposals to the Vice-Rector for Research on additional measures aimed at increasing the number of dissertations defended by doctoral students for the degree of Candidate of Science by 1 June.

    Violations committed by St Petersburg University students of the provisions of the legislation of the Russian Federation and by-laws of St Petersburg University

    Information about the violation of local regulations and provisions of the legislation of the Russian Federation by St Petersburg University students in 2021 and 2022 was discussed at the Rector’s meetings on 18 April 2022; 17 January 2022; 11 October 2021; and 15 June 2021.

    According to Aleksandr Babich, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, from 12 April to 13 May 2022, cases of violation of local regulations of St Petersburg University by 14 students were recorded on the premises of the University.

    The students violated the local regulations are presented by levels of study: bachelor’s students and specialist’s students — 8; master’s students — 2; and non-university level higher education — 4. The students violated the local regulations are presented by the fields of study: Asian and African Studies — 5; Law — 3; Earth Sciences — 1; Philosophy — 1; and Physical Training (non-university level higher education) — 4.

    Types of violations:

    • Clauses 2.1.6, 2.1.7 of the St Petersburg University Internal Regulations for Students, namely: to be polite, respect the honour and dignity of other students and employees of the University; not create obstacles for other students to receive education; follow the moral and cultural traditions and spiritual values of the University, generally accepted moral and ethical standards; to comply with the University Student and Staff Code of Conduct — 2 violations
    • Clauses 10.1.1 and 10.2.6 of the Rules for Living in St Petersburg University halls of residence: non-observance of safety and fire safety rules; non-observance of cleanliness and order in the living premises — 1 violation
    • Clause 2.1.2 of the St Petersburg University Internal Regulations for Students
    • Clause 1 of the Order № 7517/1 "On Measures Aimed at Preventing the Spread of the New Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19) among Students and Employees" dated 28 August 2020, namely: to comply with the requirements of the by-laws in the field of education regulating educational, scientific processes (wearing a mask) — 2 violations; Clause 1 of Order № 11725/1 ‘On the ban on smoking on the premises of St Petersburg University’ dated 28 November 2019 — 8 violations
    • Clauses 2.1.8, 2.1.9, 2.1.10 of the St Petersburg University Internal Regulations for Students, namely: to treat the University property with care and accuracy; take measures to ensure the safety of this property; be disciplined, maintain cleanliness and order on the premises of the University; observe safety regulations, fire safety and other special rules both in the process of studying and during other periods of stay on the premises of the University — 2 violations

    Educational and explanatory work was carried out with these students. Sets of documents were formed for announcing disciplinary sanctions. These sanctions were sent for consideration to the Student Council of St Petersburg University. Materials on all 14 students are under consideration by the Student Council of St Petersburg University. After receiving the opinion of the University Student Council, orders will be issued on bringing to disciplinary responsibility.

    Currently, the University Student Council is considering 32 sets of documents. Twelve of them were sent more than two months ago, six more than one month ago.

    Alexey Rodionov, Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies, asked that information about violators be sent to directors and deans so that educational work could be done with them. The Rector instructed the Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions to regularly send such information to the heads of the academic and research subdivisions.

    Additionally, from 12 April to 13 May 2022, seven students who committed violations in the period up to 12 April 2022 were brought to disciplinary responsibility. Five remarks and two reprimands were announced.

    Aleksandr Babich noted that when considering issues of bringing students to disciplinary responsibility, the Student Council of St Petersburg University, in two cases out of seven, proposed to mitigate the measure of disciplinary action. In one case, taking into account the opinion of the St Petersburg University Student Council, the disciplinary sanction was reduced. For all seven draft orders, the University Student Council considered the issue for more than one month. Four applications were considered for more than four months.

    Aleksandr Babich recalled that there were meetings with students brought to administrative responsibility by law enforcement agencies for participating in unauthorised actions who are not currently on academic leave. The committee included the Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs, the Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions, the Dean of the Faculty of Psychology, and the Dean of the Faculty of Law (this issue was discussed at the Rector’s meeting on 25 April 2022).

    For all students, the committee recommended a disciplinary sanction in the form of a reprimand. The decision to choose this particular measure of disciplinary sanction was due to the fact that these students, firstly, under the relevant articles of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences, were brought to administrative responsibility for the first time; secondly, they had not previously had disciplinary sanctions; and thirdly, informed the committee that they would no longer participate in illegal activities.

    Aleksandr Babich noted that in relation to students who are currently on academic leave, the relevant meetings with the members of the committee will be held after they leave the academic leave. Yet these students can meet and talk with the members of the committee before leaving academic leave. To this end, you need to contact the Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions (pro-rector_priem_urm@St Petersburg University.ru), and the meeting will be organised.

    According to information from law enforcement agencies, one student who is currently on academic leave during this vacation was twice brought to administrative responsibility by law enforcement agencies.

    Draft orders on the application of a disciplinary sanction in the form of a reprimand were sent to the St Petersburg University Student Council in order to obtain its opinion regarding these students. At the meeting of the Student Council on 29 April 29022, the St Petersburg University Student Council did not agree with the proposed measure of disciplinary sanction in the form of a reprimand and proposed not to announce any sanction to these students. An extract from the minutes of the meeting of the St Petersburg University Student Council with the above opinion was submitted on 11 May 2022 in respect of 45 students out of 59 students.

    The position of the St Petersburg University Student Council was studied. The legal arguments presented were analysed. One of the main arguments of the St Petersburg University Student Council is the impossibility of applying disciplinary measures for violations not directly related to the educational process, as this is a violation of the fundamental right of every person to higher education.

    As Aleksandr Babich recalled, on 26 March 2022, the St Petersburg University Student Council, at a meeting in absentia, considered the issue "On requesting clarifications from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education on the procedure for applying disciplinary sanctions for committing administrative offences". Based on the results of consideration of this issue, the St Petersburg University Student Council decided to send an appeal to the Russian Ministry of Higher Education and Science with the following question: is an educational organisation entitled to apply disciplinary measures to students for violating the charter of the organisation that are not related to educational activities and training in an educational organisation?

    Aleksandr Babich drew attention to the fact that the Student Council of St Petersburg University widely covered the issue of applying disciplinary measures to students both within the framework of the audience of the Student Council and the audience of the Student Council’s committees. Additionally, this information was also broadcast on the public pages of individuals. Individuals were both St Petersburg University students and students of other universities. The coverage of the audience that read the information on this story in the media and social networks was at least 860,000 people.

    The St Petersburg University Student Council regularly writes in its posts that it will inform students about the answers received to its requests.

    Students and their parents are concerned about the question of whether the Russian Ministry of Higher Education and Science answered this request. This is evident from the enquiries submitted by students and their parents to the University. Additionally, in recent months, as a result of participation in uncoordinated actions, several dozen students have been brought to administrative responsibility. Recently, the St Petersburg University Virtual Reception received an enquiry related to this appeal.

    On 12 April 2022, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation gave an answer to the Student Council of St Petersburg University about the legality of applying the appropriate disciplinary measures.

    The author of the question to the Virtual Reception made a claim against the officials of the University related to the fact that they did not inform the students about the answer of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. Aleksandr Babich drew attention to the fact that the letter from the Ministry was not addressed to the officials of the University. So, the University officials could not inform students about the relevant legal position of the Ministry and warn students that, in accordance with the position of the Ministry, students can be involved in disciplinary responsibility (up to expulsion) for committing administrative violations.

    At the same time, the position of the St Petersburg University Student Council, which earlier issued a letter on increasing transparency of the University’s activities, is surprising. The Presidium of the St Petersburg University Student Council discussed the issue of transparency at the meeting with the Rector of St Petersburg University on 21 March 2022 (which was discussed at the Rector’s meeting on 4 April 2022). At the same time, the Student Council did not implement the principles of transparency in relation to its activities as since 12 April 2022, the Student Council has not informed the students about the receipt of a response from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

    Additionally, the St Petersburg University Student Council does not provide any arguments that the Student Council studied the issue in relation to each of the students. Thus, a careful study of the arguments given by the St Petersburg University Student Council shows their legal groundlessness.

    Thus, 45 students will be reprimanded. After receiving the opinion of the St Petersburg University Student Council on the draft orders regarding other students, the position of the St Petersburg University Student Council will also be carefully studied. Decisions will be made on the application of disciplinary measures.

    Aleksandr Babich recalled if the decision to bring to administrative responsibility is cancelled by the court, then the order to bring to disciplinary responsibility will also be cancelled (this has already been repeatedly discussed at the Rector’s meetings, in particular: at the Rector’s meeting on 8 November 2021 and at Rector’s meeting on 7 February 2022). At present, the officials of the University have not received information from these students that the resolutions on bringing them to administrative responsibility have been cancelled.

    International activities

    At the recent Rector’s meetings, the international activities of St Petersburg University were analysed (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 14 March 2022; 18 April 2022; 25 April 2022; 4 May 2022; and 11 May 2022). As reported by Valeriia Malomuzh, Acting Deputy Rector for International Affairs, a number of new events took place last week.

    The Government of the Russian Federation approved the list of legal entities that are subject to special economic measures

    On 4 May 2022, at the Rector’s meeting, it was reported on the issuance of the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation "On the application of retaliatory special economic measures in connection with the unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organisations" dated 3 May 2022. In addition to this Decree, the Government of the Russian Federation issued Resolution № 851 "On measures to implement the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation" dated 11 May 2022. This resolution approved a list of legal entities and individuals from unfriendly countries with which it is prohibited to make any transactions and conclude agreements. When changes are made to the list, information will be reported at the Rector’s meetings.

    Briefings of the working groups for the implementation of academic programmes in a network form on the basis of the joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin

    On 11 May, 12 May and 13 May 2022, briefings of the working groups for the implementation of academic programmes in a network form were held at the joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin (the People’s Republic of China). The Director of the Institute of Chemistry Irina Balova, Dean of the Mathematics and Mechanics Faculty Alexander Razov, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Physics Aleksey Titov, and representatives of working groups in the relevant fields of study took part in the meetings.

    During the meetings, the participants discussed the format for implementing academic programmes at St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology; the need to update curricula in three fields of study; the possibility of reading disciplines in person in Harbin; and other issues. The meetings of the working groups will be held monthly.

    Test of Russian as a Foreign Language in Italy

    The test session took place at the University for Foreigners of Siena . The Representative Office of St Petersburg University is located at the University for Foreigners of Siena. This year, the number of people wishing to test their knowledge of the Russian language has doubled compared to 2019. There were 44 test-takers.

    The test took place at all levels: from A1 to C1. C1 allows you to conduct professional activities in Russian as a translator, an editor, a journalist, or a diplomat. The tasks of the highest levels C1-C2 are intended for philologists or teachers. Not every Russian native speaker can pass these tests perfectly. Currently, St Petersburg University is working on expanding the content of the TORFL exams to make them more accessible not only for those who plan to study the language professionally, but also for everyone who wants to improve their level of knowledge in this area.

    The test in Russian as a foreign language is not held on a specific date. Everyone can take the exam at a convenient time. According to statistics, the months preceding the beginning or end of the academic year are the most popular for passing the test. Exams usually take place over two days and consist of four subtests: Writing; Vocabulary and Grammar; Listening; and Speaking. When compiling the test, St Petersburg University relies on international and Russian standards and requirements to supplement the tests with interesting and original tasks. For those who have successfully passed the test in the Russian language, additional points are provided for admission to the University.

    Exhibition dedicated to the 350th anniversary of Peter the Great

    St Petersburg University is a member of the Assembly of "Peter the Great’s Museums" in Russia. Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library prepared an exhibition dedicated to the 350th anniversary of Peter the Great.

    The exhibition reflects the contribution of Peter the Great to the development of Russian science and science education. The patron of sciences and arts, Peter the Great founded the first national university and public museum. The exhibition ‘Peter the Great introduced science to us’ is held as part of the events organised by the Assembly of "Peter the Great’s Museums" in Russia.

    The project will take place at several venues, including the Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (New Farm), the National Library of Russia, the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Russia — My History Historical Park.