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21 March 2000

Rector's Office Adamant: Institute of Translation and Interpreting Must Stay at the University of Heidelberg

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting provides market-oriented education and training for budding translators and interpreters – Globalisation involves increasing demand for professional multilingual communicators – New Bachelor/Master's courses to make the Institute even more attractive – Rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke appeals to Research Minister Klaus von Trotha to support the University in its efforts to keep the Institute

Prompted by recent reports in the media, the Rector's Office of the University of Heidelberg takes the opportunity of re-emphasising its insistence that the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (IÜD) should be allowed to retain its rightful place at the University of Heidelberg. Rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke has a number of substantial arguments to pit against the recommendations of the Higher Education Structure Commission for transfer the courses offered by the Institute to Fachhochschule (professional college) level. Siebke stresses the fact that the Institute is already highly successful in providing education and training geared to the requirements of the present-day translation and interpreting market. At the instigation of the Rector's Office a special commission has been set up to address the implications of the Baden-Württemberg Higher Education Structure Commission's call for a "clear orientation of courses to later professional demands". The special commission's task is to design modern Bachelor and Master's degree courses for the Institute.

The Rector's Office is fully aware of the attempts being made in Heilbronn to incorporate the Institute into the Fachhochschule (professional college) there. The University of Heidelberg is vehemently opposed to such plans. "Now more than ever before," says Prof. Dr. Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, vice-rector for international relations, "we regard it as absolutely essential that translators and interpreters be educated at the University."

Prof. Weigelin-Schwiedrzik goes on to stress that all over the world translators and interpreters applying to ministries and international organisations must be in possession of a university degree if they are to be considered at all. In Germany there are relatively few institutions of this kind operating at the requisite academic level. "By transforming the Institute into a professional college the Federal Republic would be voluntarily relinquishing the opportunity of enhancing its presence in international organisations, notably at a European level." (Weigelin-Schwiedrzik)

Chief Administrative Officer of Heidelberg University, Romana Gräfin vom Hagen, also expresses profound misgivings. Globalisation, she says, means that there is an increasing need for translators and interpreters. "The University of Heidelberg provides professionally oriented education and training in this field, the kind that politicians and the public expect from universities. There is no valid reason whatsoever why these courses should be taken away from the University."

With its high percentage of foreign students the Institute of Translation and Interpreting is of major significance for the University of Heidelberg's international relations.

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 29.03.00




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