Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

No. 533
11.07.2022

    St Petersburg University student wins in "Flagships of Education" competition

    The results of the All-Russian professional competition "Flagships of Education: Students" have been announced, with more than 10,000 future teachers from 42 regions of the country participating in it. Among the four winners from St Petersburg was Ekaterina Nekrasova, who is enrolled in the Physical Education programme at St Petersburg University’s College of Physical Training and Sports, Economics and Technology (St Petersburg University student wins in "Flagships of Education" competition).

    The competition is held within the framework of the federal project "Social Elevators for Everyone", which falls under the umbrella of the national project "Education". The teaching skill competition "Flagships of Education. Students" is intended to develop and support promising students at institutions of higher education and vocational colleges who possess a high level of knowledge in their subject, key psychological and pedagogical competencies and supra-professional or soft skills.

    This year, nearly 27,000 students from 84 regions of Russia applied for it. The 175 most talented participants made it into the final round, and 35 of them emerged as winners.

    Participation in the competition "Flagships of Education: Students" provides an opportunity for fledgling teachers to: touch base with kindred spirits from all over the country; exchange ideas; and explore issues connected with teaching. As a result, a community will be formed from among the finalists and semi-finalists, and its members will be given a chance to work with mentors, winners and experts of the competition "Flagships of Education. School".

    Students of the Academic Gymnasium win at the European Geography Olympiad for school students

    The 7th European Geography Olympiad (EGEO) has taken place online in Belgrade, Serbia. At the Olympiad, Russia was represented by the main team and the guest team of eight members each and five students on the junior team.

    Elena Agapova, a student of the 11th grade at the Faddeev Academic Gymnasium at St Petersburg University, won the Olympiad and was awarded a gold medal as part of the main team. Fedor Denisov, a student of the 10th grade at the Faddeev Academic Gymnasium, was awarded a bronze medal as part of the guest team. The students study in different cohorts, so it can safely be said that it is not just one "advanced group" of students. However, they have the same teachers of geography: Natalia Maslakova and Svetlana Militsina (Students of the Faddeev Academic Gymnasium at St Petersburg University win at the European Geography Olympiad for school students).

    The competition programme included theoretical, practical and multimedia (test) sections in English. Apart from the competition, school students took part in the contest of scientific posters and cultural presentations.

    In 2021, Elena Agapova was awarded a silver medal successfully demonstrating knowledge in geography as part of the team from Russia at the Olympiad in Istanbul, Türkiye.

    Exhibition of works of the participants in the live stage of the All-Russian Art Contest "Peter the Great"

    An exhibition of works by participants in the live, final stage of the All-Russian Art Contest "Peter the Great", marking the 350th anniversary of Emperor Peter the Great, opened at St Petersburg University. The exhibition presents 52 works of painting, graphics, design and sculpture, selected by an expert jury (Young artists from all over Russia present their views on Peter the Great and his era).

    According to Senior Vice-Rector Elena Chernova, 108 works in five areas (graphics, graphic design, painting, the history of art and sculpture) took part in the absentee stage of the All-Russian creative contest "Peter the Great". The organisers of the creative work contest did not set specific tasks for the participants. The students could create artwork in different formats: this is their sense of Peter the Great; this is how they understand him; and this is how they represent the Petrine era. Students from St Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Krasnodar, Ufa, Voronezh, Perm, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk and Yelets took part in the contest.

    After the opening of the exhibition, the jury of distinguished art experts assessed the works of the participants in the live stage. The names of the authors of the best works will be announced shortly. The winners in each category will receive 60,000 roubles, with the total prize fund being 300,000 roubles. The authors themselves will be in charge of the future of the entries. If they wish, they can leave them with the University, which is grateful to receive their artwork. The paintings will be put on permanent display at the Diaghilev Museum of Modern Art at St Petersburg University or presented to the students at various creative events.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received 14 enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Additionally, 15 enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register. Enquiries are mostly related to requests for various documents. Responses to the enquiries are sent in the prescribed manner.

    Since 24 February, 175 requests have been received to be transferred to St Petersburg University from universities of the following countries: The Czech Republic; Germany; Poland; Israel; the Donetsk People’s Republic; Romania; Canada; the USA; Switzerland; France; Ukraine; Spain; Austria; Italy; Latvia; the Lugansk People’s Republic; Finland; South Korea; Lithuania; Hungary; Belgium; Greece; Great Britain; Slovakia; Singapore; and Japan. Additionally, 12 requests were registered last week. According to Regulation № 434 dated 21 March 2022 of the Government of the Russian Federation and Letter MN-5/927-DA 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 the 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-r of the Government of the Russian Federation. As of today, orders have been issued to enrol 35 students as an academic transfer from a foreign educational organisation. Nineteen students were enrolled on a government-funded basis, while 16 students were enrolled on a fee-paying basis. Planned work is underway with other applicants.

    According to information from the heads of most academic and research subdivisions, the teaching and learning process is over, and students are on holiday.

    Meetings with students (representatives of student councils, student scientific societies, and group heads) were not held by some heads over the past week.

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process, as well as other issues were discussed at meetings with representatives of the student activists of the Faculty of Philology, and the College of Physical Education and Sports, Economics and Technology (the minutes of the meetings were not formalised and not submitted for publication).

    From 2 to 8 July, 33 students in aspirantura programmes had their graduation project defences.

    Field of study

    Aspirantura programme

    1

    Philology

    4

    2

    Philosophy

    29

     

    Total

    33

    The meetings of eight State Assessment Committees took place:

    Field of study

    Number of State Assessment Committees

    1

    Philology

    2

    2

    Philosophy

    6

     

    Total

    8

    From 33 project defences 32 people (97%) were graded as "excellent", and 1 person (3%) — "good".

    Field of study

    satisfactory

    good

    excellent

    Total

    Appeals

    aspirantura

    Bachelor’s programme

    Specialist’s programme

    Master’s programme

    Aspirantura programme

    Bachelor’s programme

    Specialist’s programme

    Master’s programme

    Aspirantura programme

    Bachelor’s programme

    Specialist’s programme

    Master’s programme

    Appeals

    satisfactory

    1

    Philology

    1

    3

    4

    2

    Philosophy

    29

    29

    1

    32

    33

    International Conference "Game Theory and Its Applications"

    From 28 June to 1 July 2022, St Petersburg University held the International Conference "Game Theory and Applications" (GTA2022). The conference was held in the remote format.

    The focus of the conference was on the results of theoretical and applied research in the following areas: conflict models; competition and cooperation; mechanism design; social choice; voting and power indices; auctions; negotiations; dynamic games and applications; stochastic games and applications; evolutionary games and applications; repetitive games; pursuit games; learning and experimentation in game theory; algorithmic game theory; market models; and network games. The event was financed at the expense of St Petersburg University’s funds and organisational fees of the participants. GTA2022 is an example of effective international cooperation.

    The international scientific committee of the conference included 21 participants. Among them were: 14 representatives of the world’s leading universities; 7 representatives of Russia; and 2 Nobel Prize winners, i.e. Robert John Aumann (Nobel Prize in Economics, 2005) and Eric Stark Maskin (Nobel Prize in Economics, 2007). This evidences the high level of the conference. The Chair of the international scientific committee is Leon Petrosyan, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes. The Co-Chair is Nikolai Zenkevich, Head of the Department of Operations Management at the Graduate School of Management. The conference is supported by international game theory societies. Among them are: the Game Theory Society (GTS) and the International Society of Dynamic Games (ISDG).

    In total, 119 reports by 199 authors from 19 countries of the world and 13 regions of Russia were submitted to the conference. The international scientific committee selected 111 reports for participation in the conference. Among the authors of the selected reports are 147 people who took part in the conference, with 86 of them being foreign participants. In total, 96 section reports (some of them were co-authored) and seven plenary reports were delivered at the conference.

    Litigation and reputation of the University

    In March 2022, St Petersburg University received a letter from the Frunzensky District Court about the involvement of St Petersburg University by a third party and the provision of information based on the results of the audit at the request of Aleksandra Smikhovskaia. It concerned a civil dispute between a former student of St Petersburg University Aleksandra Smikhovskaia and her research supervisor Vladimir Kochemirovskii on the issue of possible illegal borrowing of research materials.

    As Anastasia Yarmosh, Vice-Rector for Strategic Development and Partnership, said, the starting point of this dispute was a letter sent in October 2021 by a recent master’s graduate Aleksandra Smikhovskaia to the Research Support Department at St Petersburg University. The author of the letter made claims regarding her former research supervisor. She said that her research supervisor unlawfully appropriated the results of the research that she had carried out in the process of preparing her master’s graduation project. In support of her arguments, she referred to the excerpts from the text of the graduation project and to the articles published by her in collaboration with a number of other researchers. She also reported that her research supervisor, without indicating her authorship, published the results of her research in a work that was published after the results were published by her. Based on this, she asked the University to assist her in restoring her copyright. Yet, by that time, the research supervisor was no longer working at St Petersburg University. He read the statement of his former student; considered it slanderous; and filed a lawsuit demanding compensation for the moral damage inflicted on him.

    The above facts characterise a dispute between two individuals to which St Petersburg University is not directly related. However, there is one circumstance. The Director of the Institute of Chemistry took the side of Aleksandra Smikhovskaia in the dispute and asked the Department for Legal Affairs at St Petersburg University to assist her in participating in the trial. At this request, the Centre of Expert Advice conducted an expert evaluation. It revealed that the results of the research, which was the subject of the lawsuit, were indeed published by the former master’s student earlier than her research supervisor. However, the materials that were at the disposal of the experts did not allow them to accurately confirm the authorship of the former student. Despite this, the Director of the Institute of Chemistry continued to insist that St Petersburg University should take the side of Ms Smikhovskaia in the dispute and become the participant in the trial.

    The Department for Legal Affairs timely assessed the situation and the possible negative consequences that could arise for the University if it followed the above-mentioned suggestions. St Petersburg University would inevitably be drawn into the legal dispute, although the University was by no means directly associated with the causes and essence of the dispute. The name, prestige, and authority of St Petersburg University would become a bargaining chip in the debate of the parties. Each of them would have the opportunity to use the name of the University in their own interests. The position of the Director of the Institute of Chemistry was formed without assessing the reputational consequences. At the end of 2021, the Department for Legal Affairs made an informed decision that St Petersburg University should refrain from participating in the court proceedings.

    Anastasia Yarmosh said that the real life confirmed the correctness of the position taken by the Department for Legal Affairs at St Petersburg University. The lawsuit involving the former master’s student and her research supervisor is becoming protracted, and the parties are bringing new and new accusations against each other. As for St Petersburg University, it is currently acting as a third party in this process. This eliminates the possibility of reputational losses and protects the good name of the University from misuse in anyone’s private interests.

    In the context of the ongoing events, it is especially important that St Petersburg University has refrained from participating in the litigation not only as one of the parties, but also as an expert institution. If the University, at the suggestion of the Director of the Institute of Chemistry, had agreed to present the results of its expert evaluation in court, it would have inevitably lead to the recognition of the conclusions of the St Petersburg University experts as inadequate evidence in the case, since the plaintiff and defendant are persons working at the University or who were previously working at the University. Thus, the court would have had strong grounds for doubting the objectivity of the expert opinion presented by St Petersburg University.

    The circumstances of this court case are eloquent confirmation of the relevance of one of the basic principles that determine the life of the University community. The good name, prestige, and authority of St Petersburg University are among the key values that form the core and foundation of all the many-sided spheres of the University’s life. These values were created, developed and strengthened by generations of the University students and staff. These values must be protected and preserved by all those who work and study at the University today.

    Anastasia Yarmosh noted that this case was not the only example of the fact that St Petersburg University, as an expert institution, takes a very careful and meticulous approach to maintaining its reputation. The University always avoids conflicts of interest and does not give anyone reasons for any, even the slightest doubt, about the objectivity of its research. In particular, recently, St Petersburg University has refused to one of the former employees who, on behalf of a private enterprise owned by the former employee, applied to the University with a request for a legal examination of the circumstances of the litigation. In another case, St Petersburg University has refused to conduct an expert evaluation as part of an administrative proceeding in a case where a student of the University was suspected of an offense.

    The above circumstances convince us that the reputation, prestige, and authority of the University are not abstract concepts, but tangible and relevant foundations of modern life at St Petersburg University. They are developed to strengthen, preserve and protect the University community. Any insufficiently thought action and even the word of one of the community members can damage the good name of the University. The reputation of St Petersburg University is supported by those who work and study there, which all University students and staff need to remember.

    The meeting participants (Tatiana Chernigovskaya, Igor Tikhonovich, Irina Balova, Sergei Belov, Svetlana Rubtsova, and Alla Shaboltas to name just a few) discussed in detail various aspects of the relationship between students and research supervisors: copyright of students and research supervisors; the responsibility of the research supervisor; legal standards and standards of the professional community; and ethical standards. They talked about the fact that the authorship of graduation projects belongs not only to graduates, but also to their research supervisors, who participated in the development of the structure and content of the graduation project, shared their ideas with the students. Yet it is extremely difficult to assess the specific contribution of each participant to joint scientific work. Some solutions were proposed. Among them are: develop regulations for the relationship between the student and research supervisor; and formulate the issues for the Ethics Committee that cannot be resolved by legal methods.

    International activities

    At the recent Rector’s meetings, the international activities of St Petersburg University were analysed (Minutes of the Rector’s meetings dated 14 March 2022; 14 June 2022; 20 June 2022; 27 June 2022 ; and 4 July 2022). According to Deputy Rector for International Affairs Sergey Andryushin, a number of new events took place last week.

    Meeting with the President of the Academic Consortium "International University of Kyrgyzstan"

    On 6 July 2022, an online meeting was held between representatives of the Academic Consortium ‘International University of Kyrgyzstan’ and St Petersburg University. During the meeting, the participants discussed the signing of a cooperation agreement; protocols for student mobility and academic exchange; and the implementation of double degree academic programmes. The colleagues from Kyrgyzstan showed interest in joint work in the field of modern innovative technologies and medicine. The issue of opening a branch of St Petersburg University for the implementation of programmes in a network format in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan was also discussed.

    Scientific seminar of St Petersburg University and the National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    On 23 June 2022, in honour of the World Oceans Day, a scientific seminar of St Petersburg University and the National Institute of Oceanography (India), CSIR-NIO, was held in a remote format. It was organised jointly with the Russian House in Mumbai. The workshop featured the presentations from various areas of the Earth sciences related to the ocean. Among them are: ocean physics; biological oceanography; marine and estuarine geoecology; marine geophysics; marine geology; and geochronology in marine research. The event was also attended by the directors of the three master’s programmes of St Petersburg University: Physical Oceanography and Bioproductivity of Ocean and Seas (PHOBOS); Cold Region Environment Landscapes Integrated Science (CORELIS); and Polar and Marine Sciences (POMOR). They also spoke about the peculiarities of the master’s programmes.

    The scientists exchanged presentations and discussed the possibility of signing an agreement on cooperation both in research and education.

    Results of the joint work of the Russian-Turkish research group at St Petersburg University

    As a result of the joint work of the Russian-Turkish research group, scientific and educational events were held at St Petersburg University from14 June to 24 June 2022. The following results were obtained:

    • Together with Professor Dr Sebahat Ozman-Sullivan, the tests of microartopod samples were conducted at the Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis at the St Petersburg University Research Park. The samples were made and provided by the Turkish side. Suboptimal autofluorescence was detected during testing exoskeleton of microscopic plant pest mites collected in Türkiye. It indicates the need to improve a number of sample preparation steps. Among them are: selection of the optimal temperature; exclusion of phenolic components from the enclosing medium; the use of highly purified ethanol; and minimising the impact of ultraviolet radiation on the material
    • Recommendations have been developed to improve the preparation of the test material
    • An agreement was reached on the collection of material in Türkiye in 2023 and on the manufacture of a new series of samples using the protocol that was optimised during the trip to St Petersburg University
    • In the case of a successful study, the preparation of a research article indexed in the Web of Science is planned
    • During the visit, the Turkish side expressed its intention to send Turkish master’s students in Biology to continue their postgraduate studies at St Petersburg University
    • An open lecture by Professor Dr Sebahat Ozman-Sullivan was organised. The lecture was met with great interest. It became one of the events of the Year of Zoology at St Petersburg University (Turkish biologists take part in the celebrations of the Year of Zoology at St Petersburg University)