Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

No. 527
30.05.2022

    Measures to counteract the spread of COVID-19 in St Petersburg

    Senior Vice-Rector Elena Chernova noted that starting 27 May, the mandatory mask regime will be suspended on the premises of St Petersburg University based on the amendments in Order № 121 dated 13 March 2020 of the Government of St Petersburg "On measures to counteract the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in St Petersburg". The use of individual protection means is of advisory nature.

    Starting 1 June, St Petersburg University opens free access to over 70 new online courses in English

    Starting 1 June, St Petersburg University will launch online courses that were previously represented on the Coursera educational platform only. Over 100 online courses and programmes of St Petersburg University, of which over 70 programmes are in English, including popular courses of studying Russian as a foreign language, Quantum Calculations, Management, Psychology and many other fields of study. All these courses will become available on the "Open Education" national platform.

    Today, the issues of import replacement have become even more relevant after Coursera and EdX international platforms took the decision to stop cooperation with Russian universities on 4 March 2022. Being the leader of online education in Russia, St Petersburg University is committed to providing free access to high-quality knowledge to students all over the world despite the sanctions and limitations. Thus, all online courses in English will be available to everyone free of charge.

    ‘This decision will enable Russian and international students to continue their education with the help of the most demanded online courses of St Petersburg University, contributing to the development of Russian education export,’ noted Vladimir Starostenko, Director of the Centre of E-Learning Development.

    As a co-founder, St Petersburg University takes an active part in developing the "Open Education" national platform. At the strategic session on 3–4 March 2022 in St Petersburg, the representatives of St Petersburg University voiced the ideas that became a starting point for further discussion of the platform development by the co-founding universities, namely, expanding the audience and launching products for international students.

    Moreover, on 19–20 May 2022, the "Open Education" national platform held a regular strategic session on the ‘Development of the openedu.ru strategy for the coming 3–5 years’ in Ekaterinburg. Today, the main directions of integrating conceptually new financial models, more convenient mechanism of the user’s interaction with content, subscription services and measures for developing the ambassador institution have been determined.

    Independent assessment of the education quality

    Regulation on an internal independent assessment of the education quality at St Petersburg University (hereinafter referred to as the Regulation) defined a list of events held by St Petersburg University as part of an internal independent assessment of the education quality, as well as established administrative requirements, participants and goals of integrating the quality assessment events.

    According to Elvira Zeletdinova, Vice-Rector for Teaching Methods, two road maps were created to integrate the events specified by the Regulation for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic years (see Orders № 719/1 dated 1 February 2019 and № 3298/1 dated 21 April 2020).

    In 2021, all the planned events of the internal independent assessment of the education quality were integrated, by-laws of St Petersburg University supporting the events were issued (for example, the Regulation on the student’s portfolio, the Regulation on the procedure of forming the portfolio of research and teaching staff, and the Order on creating the Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education to name just a few.).

    During the same year, another order on establishing the planned indicators of internal assessment of the academic programmes at St Petersburg University was issued (see Order № 1708/1 dated 11 March 2021). While the Regulation defines the events related mostly to the quality of training in the academic programmes, the List of planned indicators for the internal assessment of academic programmes at St Petersburg University completes the internal system of providing quality by control and quality assessment of the academic programmes per se.

    Thus, a full range of events providing for the education quality control at St Petersburg University and the documents regulating their organisation have been developed as of today. These documents have become a practical foundation for the education quality management system at St Petersburg University (see Order № 6682/1 dated 15 July 2020 "On establishing the Regulation on quality assurance and quality management of education at St Petersburg University").

    The next step was establishing the annual nature for the quality assessment events (see Order № 11450/1 dated 26 November 2021) and creating an annual calendar with time frames, deadlines and result analysis, as well as specifying the personnel responsible for the given quality assessment event (see Order № 3068/1 dated 30 March 2022).

    When the order on establishing accreditation indicators was issued by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, the List of indicators for the internal assessment of academic programmes had to be amended (see Order № 4365/1 dated 21 April 2022). Thus, currently, St Petersburg University has 28 indicators of internal quality assessment for academic programmes. Ten of them have to be assessed and monitored not only at the internal level, but also externally by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation and the Federal Education and Science Supervision Agency. Moreover, five of the 28 indicators are based on the survey results held by the Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education at St Petersburg University.

    After completing all the necessary actions on developing and introducing changes into the education control system for the academic programmes at St Petersburg University, the issue of monitoring the results of the relevant events and the internal assessment indicators for degree programmes was raised. The annual calendar of the assessment events serves as a basis for the time frame and deadlines of the monitoring events. The nearest quality control-related event to be monitored is the report of the research supervisor of a degree programme on reaching the indicators of the academic programme internal assessment.

    On the one hand, the assessment indicators are calculated for every degree programme (over 480), and on the other hand, almost all administrative subdivisions, research and teaching staff and expert communities at St Petersburg University are involved in the events, procedures and assessment of the education quality assurance. In this regard, it is essential to automate the entire scope of monitoring events. The monitoring results should be formed with the use of the primary data published in the Information System of St Petersburg University within the competence of the relevant administrative subdivisions. Such results should be stored in a specialised information system or in a separate module of already existing information systems and used by authorised persons to analyse, make conclusions and suggestions on corrective actions.

    To reach this goal, the Vice-Rector for Teaching Methods issued Regulation № 1723/1р dated 29 April 2022 "On organising the monitoring for the indicators of internal assessment of academic programmes at St Petersburg University". A working group of the representatives of administrative structures and subdivisions at St Petersburg University was created. It provided the Information Technology Service with a functional task to develop a software solution to collect, store and analyse the information to calculate and monitor the indicators of internal assessment of the degree programmes at St Petersburg University.

    The regulation specifies the deadlines for monitoring and calculating the indicators of internal assessment of the degree programmes included in the report of a research supervisor, as well as the deadlines of creating and providing the reports by the degree programme research supervisor.

    Elvira Zeletdinova emphasised that the procedure of forming a report does not imply that the research supervisor will independently calculate the indicators of the degree programme assessment to be reported. The research supervisor will not have to request any primary data for such calculations from the heads of administrative subdivisions. The task of the research supervisor is to analyse the results of completing the indicators of internal assessment of degree programmes for the previous academic year, listing the weak and strong sides of the academic programme as well as the prospects for its development and improvement. The research supervisor will perform such analysis on the basis of the indicators for a specific degree programme formed by the information systems at St Petersburg University.

    The tasks of the research supervisors at academic and research subdivisions of St Petersburg University related to the education quality assessment event "Report of Research Supervisor" are as follows:

    1. analyse the reports of the degree programme research supervisors determining the prospects of the degree programme further development to be further used in the strategy of the admission campaign in 2023
    2. use the results of the reports on the research supervisor activity in the 2021/2022 academic year to take the decision on extending the duties (performing functional duties of a research supervisor) in the coming 2022/2023 academic year

    The fact of providing the report and expertise of the report results can serve as a basis to give a bonus to the degree programme research supervisor based on the bonus code ‘5006: for performing functional duties of a research supervisor for an academic programme at St Petersburg University approved by the Regulation on the academic programme research supervisor with consideration of the Federal Educational Standard requirements’ established by Order № 7515/1 dated 28 July 2021 of the Senior Vice-Rector "On amendments to Order № 1410/1 dated 20 March 2014 ‘On introducing analytical indicators/codes to calculate bonuses for research and teaching staff at St Petersburg University"’.

    The work of educational clinics at St Petersburg University. Opening of the Environmental Clinic

    Since 1998, St Petersburg University has been developing a clinical education format. Today, 16 clinics operate at the University, covering 56 bachelor’s and master’s programmes in different fields of study. The clinical approach enables the students to form professional and universal competencies as well as train practical skills. According to Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, students at the clinics provide public support to citizens and organisations under the supervision of teachers. The main partners of the clinics include professional associations, federal and local authorities, non-profit organisations and businesses.

    Currently, the following clinics successfully operate and develop at the University: the Archival Centre (directed by Nikolai Shtykov); the Clinic of Communication Projects (directed by Ekaterina Sharkova); the Mediation Centre (directed by Elena Ivanova); the Media Centre (directed by Gulnara Sharazykova); the Museum and Architectural Clinic (directed by Antonina Nikonova); the Pedagogical Clinic (directed by I. Pisareva); the Psychological Clinic (directed by Elena Zinoveva); the Social Clinic (directed by Aleksandr Voronov); the Social Translation Centre (directed by Irina Baskakova); the Sociological Clinic (directed by Maiia Rusakova); the Centre for Financial Literacy (directed by Sergei Belozerov); the Environmental Clinic (directed by Irina Fedorova); the Legal Clinic (directed by Viacheslav Nizamov); and the IT Clinic (directed by Ivan Blekanov). Starting early 2022, two new clinics have opened: the Linguistic Clinic (directed by Ekaterina Zorina) and the Centre of Applied Economic Research (directed by Viktoriia Bazzhina).

    In 2021 and the spring term of 2022, the teams of the clinics at St Petersburg University implemented over 350 projects, including over 70 projects based on the internal order of the University (covering events, and conducting research to name just a few), conducted over 4,500 consultations (psychological, and legal to name just a few) based on the requests from organisations and private persons.

    Another important event aimed at developing academic clinics at St Petersburg University will take place on 3 June at 12 pm in the Botanical Garden of St Petersburg University: the grand opening of the University Environmental Clinic at St Petersburg University. The clinic is directed by Irina Fedorova, Associate Professor, Acting Head of the Department of Geo-Ecology and Environmental Management at the Institute of Earth Sciences at St Petersburg University.

    The Environmental Clinic at St Petersburg University is a platform helping students to form professional and special competencies taking into account the employer’s demands through performing joint (target) projects. Practical clinical activity is aimed at providing consulting services to the population and interested organisations. It includes performing research and practical projects of environmental nature by working groups of research and teaching staff and students at St Petersburg University. One of the functions of the Environmental Clinic is an educational activity aimed at popularising environmental knowledge among children and adults.

    Activists, volunteers, state authorities and private companies turn to the Environmental Clinic for help and consultation. Private inquiries of citizens included the following: the issues of shallowing of Lake Syuveyarvi in the Vsevolozhsky District, conducting an independent geo-ecological inspection of the water bodies in the south-west of St Petersburg. The clinic portfolio includes the development of an eco-track in the Novgorod Region based on the request of Tasis Ltd, projects on composting leaves in the Botanical Garden at St Petersburg University, educational events for school students of various age in School № 263 of the Admiralteysky District of St Petersburg and the Academic Gymnasium of St Petersburg University.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Last week, the Virtual Reception received ten enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Twenty-four enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register. The inquiries covered various topics, including the following: the possibility of studying at St Petersburg University; changing the dates of submitting term papers; the possibility of providing academic leave; entering master’s programmes at St Petersburg University; studying at St Petersburg University.

    According to Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities, since 24 February, 129 requests to be transferred to St Petersburg University from a foreign university have been received. Two requests were received last week. The inquiries are being processed in a due manner. According to Regulation № 434 dated 21 March 2022 of the Government of Russia and Letter МН-5/927-ДА dated 1 March 2022 of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation , St Petersburg University accepts transfer requests from the citizens of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic and Russian citizens, who had to leave the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and Ukraine and arrive in Russia, as well as the Russian citizens expressing the desire to transfer from international educational organisations in the states included into the list of non-friendly states established by Regulation № 430-р of the Government of the Russian Federation. As of today, the orders on admission in the form of transfer from international educational organisations have been issued for 23 students. Four students have been allowed to attend classes during the transfer period. Other requests are being processed in a due manner.

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

    According to the information from the Dean of the School of International Relations, a bachelor’s programme student of Latvian citizenship asked for help in looking for temporary employment at St Petersburg University for the summer period. Due to the deterioration of the international situation and discrimination against the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic countries, the student sees no prospects of coming back to his native country after completing his education and would like to make his future career in Russia. Currently, the possibility of employing the student with one of the admission campaign committees on accepting applications to St Petersburg University is being considered. The Dean of the School of International Relations also invited the student to take part in the open lecture by Dmitry Polikanov, Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo), that took place at St Petersburg University, so that the student could ask about the programmes and grants of the organisation for the compatriots living abroad.

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

    The issues of the interim assessment schedule was discussed at the meeting with the Director of the Institute of History. Students inquired why the term paper defence was scheduled at the beginning of the interim assessment and not at the end, similar to last year. The Director noted that the preparation and writing of the term paper is performed throughout the entire year. Thus, the defence at the beginning of the interim assessment will not affect its quality in case of due preparation. The established schedule fully corresponds to the regulation of holding interim assessments. No reasons to amend the schedule were found. The response to the students’ inquiry was prepared and published on the portal.

    At the meeting, the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine informed the students that all international students will perform practical work in the medical organisations of St Petersburg that have a relevant agreement with St Petersburg University. One of the students inquired if the list of examination questions will be published on the page of the Faculty of Medicine at St Petersburg University. As previously noted, the teaching methodology documentation in all academic programmes of St Petersburg University can be found in the ‘Information on the Academic Programmes’ section on the official page of the portal of St Petersburg University.

    At the meetings, students and the heads of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Faculty of Biology, (the minutes were not recorded and published), the Institute of Chemistry (the minutes were not recorded and published) discussed conducting a survey to determine the level of satisfaction with the conditions of the academic programmes implementation with the help of the Centre for Monitoring the Quality of Education at St Petersburg University. The employees of the Centre told the students about the survey procedure, scope, information collection system, representativeness of the results and feedback following the survey results.

    The students were informed about the need to observe the regulations of St Petersburg University at the meetings with the heads of the Faculty of Physics and the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning processes as well as other issues were discussed at the meetings with the representatives of the student councils, student scientific societies and group leaders and the heads of the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes, the Institute of Earth Sciences, the Faculty of Sociology, the Faculty of Philology, the Faculty of Biology (the minutes of the meetings were not provided for publication), the Faculty of Medicine (the minutes of the meetings were not provided for publication), the Institute of Chemistry (the minutes of the meetings were not provided for publication), the College of Physical Training and Sports, Economics and Technology (the minutes of the meetings were not provided for publication).

    Student representatives met with the heads of the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies, the Institute of Philosophy, the Faculty of Economics, and the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science.

    "Start-up — 2022" contest at St Petersburg University

    The final stage of the 7th contest of interdisciplinary projects of the University students "SPbU Start-up — 2022" took place at St Petersburg University. For the first time, two teams won the scholarship of 350,000 roubles: the "Lingvera" project and the team working on creating a modular platform for convertiplanes (Two teams win the SPbU Start-up contest).

    The Lingvera application developed by the students of St Petersburg University is aimed at helping foreigners to order interpreter services for business negotiations, meetings and guided tours. The application users will also be able to find specialists for translation and sign language interpreting. The team was supported by a research supervisor, who will be granted a bonus of 100,000 roubles. The authors of another winner project work on creating a modular platform for convertiplanes. According to the developed concept, the device will be able to carry a load of five kilograms in uneven topography conditions due to carefully designed aerodynamics.

    The second place was taken by the RoboKor team working on the development of a device for corrosion tests under load. Following the test results, the load factor can be accurately calculated, which will help to design long-lasting metal structures avoiding excessive costs related to the procurement of metal. The student team will receive a bonus of 250,000 roubles.

    This year, 16 teams offering the most original and scientometric ideas became semi-finalists of the contest. The participants of the eight student teams in the final round received a scholarship of 10,000 roubles each for the project development in three months.

    St Petersburg University is the first university in Russia that started to accept the results of start-up contests (not only within the University) as final graduation projects (The student start-up project to be recognised as the graduation thesis).

    International activities

    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, 25 April 2022, 4 May 2022, 11 May 2022, 16 May 2022, 23 May 2022). Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, reported on a number of new events that took place last week.

    Online meeting with the partners from the Republic of Korea

    On May 25, Deputy Rector for International Affairs held an online meeting with Korean colleagues from Daejin University. The meeting was also attended by Inna Tsoy, Associate Professor in the Department of Korean Studies at St Petersburg University, Veronika Koytova, Head of the International Academic Cooperation Department, Tatiana Ryazantseva, Acting Head of the International Research Support Department, and Mikhail Shandybin, Advisor to the Vice-Rector for International Affairs.

    The participants addressed the following issues during the meeting:

    • the establishment of a representative office of St Petersburg University in Daejin University the invitation forwarded by Professor Kwon Ho, Director of International Relations and Dean of the School of International Cooperation of Daejin University, to the delegation of St Petersburg University to visit Daejin University and commitment to provide a platform for opening a representative office of St Petersburg University in Korea
    • promising areas of partnership, the implementation of joint educational, cultural and scientific activities, academic, research and student exchange and the conclusion of an agreement on cooperation between St Petersburg University and Daejin University
    • current formats of student and academic exchanges and their implementation during the coronavirus pandemic and the current year. The parties exchanged opinions and expertise and discussed the details of the student exchange protocols

    Sergey Andryushin informed the partners that this year St Petersburg University would continue active development of international activities, including through already established platforms of ’St Petersburg University Representative Office’ projects, opening a joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology in China and branches of the University in Uzbekistan and Egypt. The parties discussed opening a representative office of St Petersburg University in Daejin University and initiated the examination of the necessary documents for the successful implementation of the initiatives.

    Joint conference organised by the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in Italy

    The University for Foreigners of Siena and St Petersburg University held a joint online conference on 24 May as part of the activities of the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in Italy. The conference focused on methodological issues of teaching Russian and Italian languages. Pierangela Diadori, Professor of Linguistics and Director of DITALS Research and Service Centre (Certification in Italian Language Teaching Methodology), delivered a lecture ’Italian in contact with other languages, pragmatics, translations and intercultural issues’. The scholars discussed a series of topical issues in translation and teaching methodology.

    Professor Nina Fedotova, Doctor of Education at St Petersburg University, delivered a lecture "Start-up. A1: linguadidactic description (Russian for foreigners)". The lecture focused on the training complex for adults starting to learn Russian as a foreign language. The Professor demonstrated the techniques of introducing, reinforcing and controlling the learning material with the help of specific examples. The joint conference was attended by Italian and Russian students and academic staff.

    Open lecture organised by the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in Spain

    The online lecture "Benois Villas" was held on 26 May as part of the activities of the St Petersburg University Representative Office in Spain (Barcelona). The lecture was delivered by Evgeniia Petrashen, Member of the Board of the St Petersburg Union of Architects, Assistant Professor in the Department of Design of St Petersburg University and Chief Architect and co-founder of the Benois Successors Architectural Bureau. The participants got acquainted with the two-hundred-year history of the largest artistic dynasty in St Petersburg. The ancestor of the dynasty and its most prominent representative is Professor of Architecture Nikolai Benois, Chief Architect of Peterhof and the Imperial Theatres.

    The audience could immerse themselves in the history of the famous country houses of the Benois family. At the end of the 19th century, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, representatives of the artistic and business intelligentsia of St Petersburg began to buy land for the construction of houses for summer country life. After the revolution and nationalisation, these amazingly beautiful houses were used to house a sanatorium for educational workers.

    There are plans to restore the remaining buildings and use them as the Creative base of the Faculty of Arts of St Petersburg University. The goal of the project is to unite the values and traditions of the famous Peterhof summer residents and give these monuments of architecture with a hundred-year history a new life as an interdisciplinary art residence of St Petersburg University.

    Meeting with the representatives of the Higher Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology (Syria)

    On 26 May, St Petersburg University received a delegation from the Higher Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology (HIAST) of Syria headed by Dr Wael Hansa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Dr Maher Suleiman, Director of the HIAST. During the presentation, professors and associate professors from the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes, the Faculty of Physics and the Institute of Chemistry held discussions with the representatives of HIAST.

    The guests learned about the potential of the four resource centres of the Research Park: the Interdisciplinary Resource Centre for Nanotechnology; the Centre for Diagnostics of Functional Materials for Medicine, Pharmacology and Nanoelectronics; the Centre for Physical Methods of Surface Investigation; and Chemical Analysis and Materials Research Centre.

    Sergey Andryushin spoke about the commitment to cooperation with colleagues from Syria in the areas of joint research projects, student, scientific and academic exchanges, as well as language internships for teaching staff and students.

    The Syrian side has expressed its interest in establishing relations with St Petersburg University in a wide range of areas. As the first phase of cooperation, the HIAST proposed to consider internships for Syrian students at St Petersburg University, and joint research in such areas as nanomaterials, sensors, environmental protection, signal processing, artificial intelligence, big data and wireless networking technologies.

    The Syrian colleagues expressed particular interest in remote learning at St Petersburg University. The heads of the Syrian Institute indicated a prior willingness to organise online courses on the HIAST platform for Russian language courses. The parties have prepared and negotiated a draft agreement on cooperation which is expected to be signed during the working visit of the Russian interdepartmental delegation to the Syrian Arab Republic in June 2022.

    Workshop in Philology organised by the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in the People’s Republic of China

    The workshop in Philology with partners from Harbin Institute of Technology was held on May 27. The workshop was attended by Mikhail Koryshev, Dean of the Faculty of Philology at St Petersburg University, and Alexey Rodionov, Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies, as well as experts in Russian as a foreign language and teaching methodology. The event was hosted by the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in the People’s Republic of China.

    The parties discussed cooperation in the field of Philology, the development of an academic programme in Philology based on the "2+2" network model with the study of two foreign languages as part of the joint campus of St Petersburg University and Harbin Institute of Technology. As a result of the meeting, the parties agreed to exchange the curricula and descriptions of previously developed academic disciplines for further comparison and development of a new academic programme.

    Round table with the ambassadors of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean

    On 27 May, at the invitation of the Governor of St Petersburg, the ambassadors of the Latin American and Caribbean countries in the Russian Federation visited St Petersburg. The visit included a round table to discuss the potential for cooperation with St Petersburg University. During the meeting, the Chairmen of the Committees on Foreign Relations and Science and Higher Education particularly noted that the history of higher education began with the establishment of St Petersburg University, the first higher education institution in Russia, in 1724.

    During the event, Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, and Professor Viktor Kheifets, Director of the Ibero-American Studies Centre at St Petersburg University, spoke about the potential of international academic cooperation between St Petersburg University and their Latin American partners, the centre, the forum ’Russia and Ibero-America in a Globalizing World: History and Modernity’ held every two years by the University, and about the research and academic programmes offered by St Petersburg University.

    Examination in the Chinese language at St Petersburg University

    More than 200 people studying the Chinese language gathered at St Petersburg University to test their knowledge at the 29th test session of the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) examination (St Petersburg University has successfully held Chinese language proficiency test).

    Citizens of St Petersburg were not the only people who have taken the exam: a group of schoolchildren from Kaliningrad came to St Petersburg to undertake the HSK 1 exam (basic level similar to the A1 level of the Test of Russian as a Foreign Language). Among the 216 participants of the exam, 39 children have taken the Youth Chinese Test (YCT), the exam specifically designed for children under the age of 16. The interest in HSK Speaking Test (HSKK) has increased significantly in recent years: during the held test session, the number of candidates signed up for the HSK Oral Test has grown several times compared to the March test session.

    Damir Mukhetdinov, Head of the Centre for Islamic Studies at St Petersburg University, spoke at the 14th International Doha Conference on Interfaith Dialogue

    Professor Damir Mukhetdinov, Doctor of Theology and Head of the Centre for Islamic Studies at St Petersburg University, has taken part in the 14th International Doha Conference on Interfaith Dialogue in Doha, Qatar. This year, the conference’s focus is "Religions and Hate Speech: Between Scripture and Practice". The event was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar and the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID) (St Petersburg University Professor Damir Mukhetdinov: ‘The fight against ideologies of hatred is a fight for intellectual and moral renewal’).

    Professor Damir Mukhetdinov was the only representative of Russia who made a key-note presentation at the conference. The event has also been attended by representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church: Dimitry Safonov, Executive Secretary of the Interreligious Council of Russia, and Hieromonk Gregory (Matrusov), Head of the Patriarchal Experts’ Council for Cooperation with the Islamic World.

    In his report on the social origins of hatred, Damir Mukhetdinov briefed conference participants on the reasons behind the spread of the ideology of religious extremism and fanaticism, and referred to the systemic problem of the disruption of social ties and the sense of humiliation of those recruited by extremist organisations. Speaking of the social roots of extremism, the theologian urged ’not to justify it, but to understand the motives of religious extremists in order to effectively oppose the preaching of hatred and violence’.

    According to Professor Mukhetdinov, extremism has no nationality or citizenship. The ideologies of hatred often lend themselves to historically non-Muslim countries, European in particular — France, England, the Netherlands and others. It is important to remember that extremism is a social phenomenon — to blame it on Islam is fundamentally wrong. He added that all Abrahamic religions have a huge liberating potential, and the task of spiritual leaders is to prevent the agents of terror from appropriating it.

    Competitions for the provision of official housing for doctoral students and accommodation for the staff of St Petersburg University

    Continuing the discussion on the issues of allocating service apartments to young scientists, including doctoral students and employees of St Petersburg University (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 31 January 2022, 28 March 2022, 4 April 2022, and 11 April 2022), Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research, informed of Order № 5853/1 "On approval of the Regulations for allocating service apartments for doctoral students" dated 23 May 2022 (hereinafter the Regulations) and Order № 5430/1 "On the announcement of the competitive selection process for allocating service apartments for employees of St Petersburg University" dated 12 May 2022.

    The Regulations for the competitive allocation of service apartments for doctoral students have been developed to support young scientists of the University, in particular, doctoral students, as part of the St Petersburg University Strategic Plan 2021-2030. The competitive selection is planned for September 2022. The competition is open to doctoral students of the University enrolled in programmes for the training of research and academic staff in aspirantura programmes in natural sciences, starting from the second year of study. The selection process will take into account academic achievements and students’ motivation to pursue further research and work at the University. The detailed information on the terms and conditions of the competitive procedure is available in the Order published on the website of St Petersburg University. Based on the results of the competitive selection process, the candidates will be provided with service apartments for the period of study in programmes for the training of research and academic staff in aspirantura programmes and plus one year after the end of the abovementioned period, provided that they are employed by St Petersburg University.

    The Order of 12 May 2022 announced a competitive selection process for the allocation of housing facilities for employees of St Petersburg University. According to the current Order, applications are accepted from 12 to 30 May. An amendment to the Order extending the acceptance of applications until 30 June will be issued shortly. The competition is open to research and academic staff of St Petersburg University under the age of 35 (as of the year of the competitive process) who have provided a motivated statement of their eligibility for residential facilities at St Petersburg University. The applicants are subject to the following requirements: employment with St Petersburg University expiring no earlier than 30 June 2023; fulfilment of obligations under the current (previous) employment contract/additional agreements to the current employment contract; no breach of requirements and deadlines for submission of scientific and financial reports on the implementation of grants, research and development activities financed from external sources.

    The results of the competitive procedures will be finalised by mid-July (the Order to be amended accordingly). Housing contracts will be concluded with the academic staff of St Petersburg University for the duration of their employment contracts. The detailed information on the terms and conditions of the competitive procedure is available in the Order published on the website of St Petersburg University.

    Salaries for employees at St Petersburg University

    The media reported that the salaries of the University’s staff did not meet the levels specified in recent decrees of the President of the Russian Federation in May. They read: ’St Petersburg University has generally met the target figures. However, cultural workers, some research staff and medical personnel have received lower payments’. Furthermore, the Virtual Reception of St Petersburg University received a question on this matter (Is it true that University staff salaries are lower than required by the "May" decrees?). The author refers to the report of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation and asks for an explanation as to why some researchers, medical personnel and cultural workers have not been entitled to an increase in their salaries.

    Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector, noted that the reported information does not correspond to reality. The conclusion of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation on the results of the external audit of the implementation of the Federal Law ‘On the Federal Budget for 2021 and for the planning period 2022 and 2023’ and the budget reporting on the implementation of the Federal Budget for 2021 at the Federal State Budget Educational Institution of Higher Education "Saint Petersburg State University" states the following: ’According to preliminary data, by the end of 2021, the target figures for average salaries have been achieved for teaching staff in general education (102.3 %), teachers and instructors in vocational secondary education (102.8 %), academic staff (204.6 %), researchers (204.1 %), doctors (480.3 %) and nurses (151.3 % and 100.3 %); and have not been achieved for cultural workers (76.2 %)’.

    Thus, the only category of employees where the target ratio has not been achieved is cultural workers.

    Elena Chernova noted that St Petersburg University has eight museums and the M Gorky Scientific Library of St Petersburg University. The University makes regular requests for funds to pay the respective category of staff members in accordance with the established procedure. However, despite the support from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation (letters № 9122-01.1-64-OЯ dated 14 June 2019, № 9656-01.1-64-СО dated 25 June 2019 to name just a few), no budgetary allocations have been made to the University to date. The salaries of these employees are paid mainly from revenues from educational and scientific activities.

    The University spends 25 million roubles annually on the salaries of museum and library staff from extrabudgetary funds (not including insurance payments).

    At the same time, museum staff successfully participate in various professional competitions and receive high awards. In the last week alone, the Paleontological Museum of St Petersburg University took part in the international competition for museum workers "Innovative Museum", organised by the international consultancy and education centre VELES (VELES Ltd., Taganrog). The competition received two submissions from Irina Bugrova, Associate Professor at St Petersburg University and scientific adviser to the Paleontological Museum. Methodological project "Inhabitants of ancient seas. A family excursion for children aged 6-9 accompanied by adults in the Paleontological Museum of St Petersburg University" was awarded the first-degree diploma. The second work — "Visiting popular lectures on palaeontology at the Palaeontology Museum of St Petersburg University as a part of the academic programme for social rehabilitation of disabled people in St Petersburg" - was awarded a diploma of the second degree.

    From 2019 to 2022, the Centre for Social Rehabilitation of the Disabled in the Vyborgsky District of St Petersburg hosted guest lectures for people with developmental disabilities, and resumed them after the pandemic in 2022. The lectures were organised by employees, students and alumni of St Petersburg University on a charity basis. The lectures, delivered by Irina Bugrova, were devoted to palaeontology. Stories about ancient animals were illustrated with presentations, short videos and demonstrations of paleontological specimens.

    These lectures made it possible for people with mental disabilities to gain new knowledge in an accessible environment, discuss their questions in a general discussion and gain positive emotions from the opportunity to get a closer look at extraordinary natural objects.

    The exhibition "Re-form"

    Vladimir Nabokov Museum continues the project "Jewellery Vector" with a showcase of contemporary designer jewellery. The first event in the framework of the exhibition "Re-form" (upcycling and recycling in the jewellery) opened on 28 May 2022. It is timed to coincide with the 21st International Conference on Fashion and Design (organised by St Petersburg University of Industrial Technologies and Design and the Russian Museum of Ethnography).

    The theme of the exhibition is closely connected to the problems of ecology. Today, modern society is concerned about the catastrophically impending environmental crisis. Art has always been an indicator of the prevailing attitudes in society, through which it has sought expression of its concerns. The art of jewellery also attempts to influence the world’s environmental issues by drawing people’s attention through recycling-art. Jewellers are increasingly using vintage pieces, some waste and recycled raw materials in their work.

    The main goal of artists is to draw public attention to the negative impact of human activity on the environment and to promote a culture of meaningful consumption. The exhibition is an invitation to take a look at junk, rubbish, and unnecessary things through the eyes of an artist, to see the beauty in the fading material world and make it modern.

    The exhibition "Re-form" features works by more than 20 artists from St Petersburg and Moscow who use upcycling and recycling to show museum visitors how to make beautiful new decorations by influencing the environment.

    The exhibition is open from 28 May to 27 June 2022.

    Illegal use of the official name of St Petersburg University and its subdivisions

    On 29 April, a complaint was sent to the administrator of the publics vk.com/istfak_studen of "Studen" journal (abbr. "Student day"), demanding that they stop using any means of individualisation of St Petersburg University in their titles and disseminating information on behalf of St Petersburg University without reference to the original source.

    According to Yury Penov, Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs, the claim was partially satisfied: the reference to the name of St Petersburg University was removed from the search address of the page. Unfortunately, the releases continue to indicate the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of History and the Student Council of St Petersburg University as the founders. On 17 May, a further complaint was sent demanding that misleading information about the founders be removed and that no further infringements of the University’s exclusive right to its name be made.

    Another complaint was sent on 17 May to the administrators of the publics vk.com/lyandpy (‘Lupa and Pupa’), who had also used the name of the University in their community. The claim included a demand to stop using any means of individualisation of St Petersburg University in their titles and disseminating information on behalf of St Petersburg University without reference to the original source. It also demanded to stop the sale of products made using the means of individualisation of St Petersburg University (the community organised the sale of T-shirts with the University logo at a cost of about 700 roubles). The claims have been satisfied by the administration of the publics.

    To date, efforts to identify violations in the use of St Petersburg University’ means of individualisation are continuing.

    Electing the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    In accordance with the Charter of St Petersburg University, the Faculty Deans at St Petersburg University are elected by the Academic Council of the University. The election procedure is regulated by the Regulations on the procedure of electing the Dean of the Faculty of St Petersburg University, approved by Order № 6283/1 dated 27 August 2015.

    On 30 May, the Academic Council of the University should have elected the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. On 13 May, Aleksei Kudrin sent a formal notice informing the Academic Council that he would not take part in the election.

    Following the withdrawal of the only candidate, the election has been cancelled (Order № 5799/1 dated 20 May 2022). The term of office of Aleksei Kudrin as Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences expired on 29 May 2022. Professor Nina Savchenkova, Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Practices in Arts, has been appointed the Acting Dean of the Faculty.

    Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector of St Petersburg University, reported that new elections will soon be announced. In addition, in the near future, Elena Chernova will hold a meeting with the heads of the departments of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences to discuss the organisation of their work.