Interpreting labs among the finest in Europe were officially opened at Heriot-Watt University on Wednesday 31 October by Ms Leslie Evans, Director-General, Learning and Justice from the Scottish Government.
The University has invested £700,000 to refurbish and develop language learning and interpreting facilities for its students, modelling them on those used in the European Parliament.
Heriot-Watt is already ranked in the top ten of UK universities offering modern language courses, and takes pride in helping to school a globally mobile workforce for multi- and trans- national companies and organisations.
Four new labs and one self-study lab will provide students with more hands-on interaction with translation and interpreting equipment, and include facilities for the first British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting degree in Scotland, which was launched at Heriot-Watt University in September this year.
Principal, Professor Steve Chapman said: "As day-to-day business, politics and culture are increasingly international and global, this enables Heriot-Watt University to meet the growing demand for graduates with second languages and translations skills and help our students to enter high-value sectors such as finance and commerce, technology, and energy. This investment will enhance our established reputation in this field, and enable us to develop a centre for excellence."
Professor Gill Hogg, Head of School of Management and Languages added: "This expansion, together with our new British Sign Language course and the first Gaelic-English interpreting course, due to start next year, firmly reflects our ambition to continue to lead the UK in language and interpreting teaching, and provide a skilled talent pool for high-profile institutions such as the European Parliament and the UN."
The new labs were launched at a special event for guests including representatives from the Scottish Government, the European Commission, British Deaf Association and the Scottish Funding Council.
Staff and students presented a variety of modes of interpreting in the new state-of-the art facilities with simultaneous, consecutives and liaison interpreting into and from English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic and Chinese. Staff and students involved in the newly launched British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting degree programme in Scotland also interacted in BSL.