A high-profile delegation from the European Parliament recently visited campus to learn more about our successful interpreting and translating courses and to share tips and advice with current students hoping to secure jobs after graduating.

The delegation included European Parliament Director-General for Logistics and Interpretation for Conferences, Agnieszka Walter-Drop, and Miguel Gomes, Head of Unit for English and Irish Interpreting.

During their visit to campus, they met Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian White to discuss future requirements for interpreters and translators, accompanied by Dr Nick Startin, Head of the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, Steven Wonnacott, Director of Studies for Postgraduate Programmes in Interpreting and Translation, and Elena Kidd, Senior Teaching Fellow in Interpreting.

They also fielded questions from current students undertaking our successful MA Interpreting & Translating about developing a career within the European institutions, giving tips and advice on how to get started.

The University’s MA Interpreting & Translation (MAIT) is a real success story. A very significant number of interpreters working in the English booth in the European Parliament were trained at the University and our alumni go on to forge impressive careers for major institutions, including missions to exotic destinations all over the world.

The unit is led by Steven Wonnacott from the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies and offers both a European stream and Chinese stream.

Classes are taught from six languages into English (interpreting from Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish, with Path 2 students also working into Chinese and Russian) and the course includes prestigious placements for students with European institutions, the UN or on the private market.

European Parliament Director-General Agnieszka Walter-Drop explained: “Our recent visit to campus was a fantastic opportunity to meet new Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian White and to discuss the continued need in the European Parliament for conference interpreters, particularly English native speakers, and our future cooperation.

“English interpreting will continue to be an essential part of our multilingual system as English will remain an official and working language of the EU, whatever the outcome of Brexit.

“The European Parliament has been a longstanding partner of the University of Bath’s interpreting course for over 50 years. We look forward to strengthening this partnership in the years to come.”

Steven Wonnacott added: “We were delighted to welcome Director-General Walter-Drop and Miguel Gomes to campus. Having high-profile guests who can share their first-hand experiences with students on the day-to-day realities of life as an interpreter is always invaluable.”

On graduating with the MAIT at Bath, alumni wishing to pursue jobs in international institutions such as the UN or EU go on to face gruelling competency tests to ensure they meet the grade and are ready to interpret at the highest level.

Current student, Grace Barningham, said: “It is always great to have visits from the institutions; it helps to put a friendly face to what is a very daunting process. The opportunity to ask questions about the application process was particularly useful and it was very interesting to learn more from Director-General Walter-Drop and Miguel Gomes.”

Current freelance interpreter from the class of 2010, Daniel Jones, explained: “Having decided to pursue a career in interpreting, I looked for a vocational course which would provide the strongest possible springboard into this competitive field. I soon realised that Bath provided a highly practical course, aimed at ensuring students had a solid foundation in the many skills required to become excellent and competitive interpreters or translators.

“The dedication of MAIT staff, all of whom have extensive first-hand experience working as interpreters and translators, to equipping students with a rigorous understanding of the complex techniques called for by this profession, is matched by their obvious ambition for their students on leaving Bath.

“As I have entered the workplace, it has become clear that the MAIT course at Bath enjoys a top reputation among key employers such as the UN and the EU. Direct connections with professionals working in these organisations are invaluable for graduates. The Master’s in Interpreting and Translating surpassed my expectations in many areas and has provided me with the best possible start to a career in interpreting.”