In the wake of the economic crisis which has shaken western societies and their public-funding budgets, the last few months have seen many changes in the higher education sector. Universities are facing the challenges of tackling fast technological changes efficiently, of enhancing links with industry and of becoming more cost-effective, diversifying funding sources. In a world which is visibly ever-changing and where governments are less willing to subsidise education, training students to adapt to situations and acquire transferable skills takes precedence over learning a stable body of knowledge.
These recent changes are not being implemented without difficulties, as the major protests held over fees and structural reforms in France, Germany and the United Kingdom have shown. Business and science courses are adjusting as efficiently as possible. But in literary disciplines, perspectives have been grim. The Humanities, strong pillars of the tertiary educational sector throughout the 20th century, are dwindling at worrying speed: departments of Modern Languages, Philosophy and History are threatened in many institutions.
Born in this context out of struggling departments of Philology, Comparative Literature or Linguistics, Translation Studies often emerged as more successful than their ancestors in many institutions, particularly in the UK where the discipline only received visibility in the last decade of the 20th century. Considered as skills-based and vocational, translation seduced potential students, largely coming from a bi-cultural background, and course providers who felt that this developing field could tick if not all, at least some of the required boxes regarding employability and transferrable skills.
Yet as Michail Sachinis notes in his introduction, training issues relating to Translation Studies have been slow to develop. Relatively few resources focusing on training not only translators and interpreters, but their trainers, exist. Besides, the growing corpus in the field tend to be country-specific. This issue is guest edited by a young researcher in the field who is offering a comparative perspective in the field. He has summoned an impressively contrasting range of researchers coming from Japan, Hong Kong, Greece, Malaysia, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, researching wide-ranging areas, from training translators for the EU to interpreters and localisers. JoSTrans was always intended as a disseminating platform for scholars and practitioners, but this exchange function is emphasised when exploring a field which is not yet fully established. Michail Sachinis gathered these articles with a passion and enthusiasm we hope you’ll find infectious!