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Subsidised Meals Programme Continues at Mining University

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St. Petersburg Mining University continues to operate a system of subsidized meals for students, postgraduate students, and employees of the university. Meal reimbursement is one of the mechanisms of a branched system of material and social incentives at the university.

Now among the participants of the social program, there are 325 students with a “High level of competence” in the current academic year. Students can get into this category due to excellent results in scientific, academic, social activities, mastering foreign languages, and obtaining additional competencies. All postgraduate students of the university, as well as about two and a half thousand employees, can take advantage of reimbursement for meals: all teaching staff, all regular researchers, academic support staff, and employees of all departments except for workers of the construction and repair department. The preferential catering means that every participant of the program can get a 160 ruble refund using the meals from the canteens placed in the academic buildings and dormitories of the university.

We would like to remind you that in April 2020, during the active phase of the pandemic, every student living in any of the seven dormitories of Mining University had an opportunity to get a lunch box with lunch once a day in the dining hall. The expenses were paid at the rate of 180 rubles per person at the expense of the institution’s funds. The students themselves were only required to have a personal chip card. This form of organization of a discounted meal was chosen specifically to minimize contact between the students.

Mining University is one of the few in St. Petersburg that has launched such a mechanism. The total cost per month is more than 9 million rubles. The university also assumes the payment of tax deductions.

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“Students, postgraduate students, and staff can take advantage of the benefit once a day at any catering outlet, which includes nine facilities, including cafes, canteens in academic buildings, and dormitories. Virtually no other university in the City on the Neva has such a system. I can say that this benefit is in demand. In September we received a lot of calls at the trade union committee of the university from workers who were interested in the time of the resumption of compensation. I will remind, that return of money is made at the end of the month. The calculation is as follows: if you spend more than 160 rubles, then this amount is returned, but if less than that, the refund is the amount at which the food was purchased. All we have to do to make use of this benefit is write an application,” said Alexander Gospodarikov, professor, Dr. of Engineering, head of the Department of Higher Mathematics and Chairman of the Trade Union Committee of Mining University.

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“Of course, many people, especially students, noticed that in October the price range in the university’s canteens increased significantly. This provoked mixed reactions, including on social media. Price increases, which previously bypassed the catering outlets of the institute, systematically got to him. But it was not caused by the personal initiative of the higher educational institution, but by inflation. Before each academic year, we make a mandatory tour of our colleagues and compare their price range with ours. Prices in our canteens and cafes are about 10-15 percent lower than those at universities in the city. At the expense of what? Mining University has its catering facility. Other universities outsource this system, i.e., third-party companies are invited. But we work centrally with large and trusted suppliers on the basis of auctions, who make significant discounts on meat, fish, and so on. As for the quality of products, Mining University is connected to the Mercury system, an automated system for electronic certification of cargo, which is subject to state veterinary control in Russia. That is, all products are checked by the state body of Roshelkhoznadzor for ‘food safety,’ said Kirill Zakhov, director of the Department of Catering.

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“Yes, now there is a reaction to the price increases in our canteens, but this is a natural global process. Russia does not live in a vacuum, these processes affect us too. Prices, including food prices, are gradually rising, and we all go to the stores and see all this with our own eyes. In this situation, the position of the management of Mining University and the rector personally can only inspire respect. Compensation of food costs is a very correct and timely decision,” said Gennady Rudenko, Head of the Department of Physical Education at Mining University.

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“The negative reaction to the price increases in the cafeteria surprises me. I go to the store every day and, in my opinion, the fact that our prices are constantly rising can be noted by anyone. It is not difficult to guess that the purchasing prices at which the products are purchased and from which the food is prepared afterward, will also increase. We do not have a subsidiary farm, where we would grow piglets or potatoes and vegetables. Of course, we could start a greenhouse and then everything would be cheap, and we could send disgruntled students to work there. No, we do not and do not plan to do so. There will always be dissatisfied people,” noted Pavel Tulin, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

To get the benefit, students will have to study hard and raise their level through participation in scientific and public work.

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“Compensation can be used by students who have a ‘High Competence Level’ in the current academic year. You can get into this list by filling out a questionnaire, in which you must specify your progress for the year, the level of knowledge of a foreign language, additional competencies obtained throughout the academic year. Sports and social activities are also taken into account. In addition, semester-long conference diplomas are counted. All university students may apply except for those graduating this year. Once the application is submitted, the committee evaluates the questionnaire. The committee consists of deans, and a complete list can be found in order. Then comes the ranking of students in three levels - high, medium, low. All the guys who hit the high level are encouraged in different ways. This includes meals during the summer holidays and vacations and excursions,” said Ekaterina Dementieva, Director of the Gornyak student club.

But what do the students themselves think?

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“I have been a ‘High level of competence’ student since the beginning of the third year. I am actively engaged in scientific activities, I have publications of articles in various magazines, I speak at conferences, all of this is taken into account and gives an advantage in the future. This year I had a chance to visit a summer vacation in Kavgolovo, which was a pleasant ending to the summer with lots of impressions. Such a system exists at our school for a few years, and I use dividends from it regularly. The food system at the university, in my opinion, is quite convenient. Confirm their level of competence every year, including preferential catering, a good incentive to work further and develop to go to higher positions,” said the chairman of the scientific direction of the Ecologist Society, a fourth-year student Daria Borisova.

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“For me, the price increase in the dining hall was expected because I was still a student, eating at the previous prices for five years. We see the cost of products and services everywhere. Compensation for food is an important benefit and I consider it as one of the significant for the life of the university. Even even though I am already a postgraduate student. It is a nice bonus. All my acquaintances with whom I talked on this subject, use it and with pleasure eat in university canteens," told the postgraduate student of the second year of training Ildar Fazilov.

“In my opinion, there is nothing difficult about becoming a ‘green’ person (‘High level of competence’), it is enough to have an appropriate grade point average and just be somewhere active and somewhere sporty,” said Anastasia Inozemtseva, a second-year graduate student, Department of Management and Design in Oil and Gas Industry.

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“Since this year I became a ‘green level’ student and use the benefits. The scheme is simple - you can come to any canteen of the university, attach a badge, which is also used to pass to the university, there are special terminals where you can attach it when paying for purchases and then, as explained to us by the Students Council, along with the payment of scholarship 160 rubles will be returned, provided that you attached a badge at the time of purchase. I support the idea of dividing students into groups, because we have an educational and competitive environment, as the rector has repeatedly said, this is the right thing to do. I would like to note that the prices in the dining hall have changed if you take last year, a set lunch cost 150 rubles, now - 200 rubles. But this is not such a significant increase. I spend a lot of time at university and, as a rule, I’m here about 11 hours: after classes, I do either scientific work or spend time at the meeting of clubs. It turns out that I need at least two meals, on average I spend about 400 rubles for food a day. This benefit is not a bad incentive and support. It would be more comfortable, of course, that the refund would be immediate, last year the system was such, this year the refund will be together with the scholarship," said a fourth-year student, majoring in ecology and environmental management Tikhon Glum.

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“In fact, the increase in prices in the canteen for me was not very noticeable, the difference is 10-15 rubles. If you compare our prices with other catering establishments, our prices are low. This is my fourth year here, and I noticed for myself that it was the first time there had been an increase. I take advantage of this benefit myself. The canteens are tasty and inexpensive. You could say that we eat almost for free. My acquaintances and friends study at other universities and they don’t have that,” said Muhamed Aljadli, a second-year postgraduate student at the Department of Oil and Gas Transportation and Storage.

“Since this year I became a ‘green’ student, and before I took food with me, which was more convenient for me. But I think that such a bonus will encourage me to eat at the university, and bring less on me. To enter the category of ‘High level of competence’ I went deeper into the scientific field, took part in making energy forecasts, became an assistant to a scientist at another department, and participated in various educational programs. I can say for myself that you don’t have to be the absolute winner. Participation and experience can already help you become a ‘green’ student,” shared a fourth-year student of Ecology and Nature Management Anastasia Koshenkova.

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“The benefit is a nice bonus because it covers at least half of the amount spent. I have one meal at the university and half of that amount is for compensation. I can say that the quality of food in the dining hall has improved significantly in the seven years I’ve been at university, and it’s nice. Since 2020, when I entered graduate school, the food has improved. Also, those who have special eating habits can choose their meals,” said Maxim Limanov, a second-year graduate student from the Department of Oil and Gas Field Development and Exploitation.

The subsidized meals program is not the only one among the social initiatives of Mining University. Summer recreation for students, financial aid to veterans, the university has a commission for supporting students from low-income families, a weekend program will start operating in winter at the base in Kavgolovo, and in summer, the first groups will enjoy the university-owned complex in Beregovo (Republic of Crimea) after renovation.

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