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I would like to have opinions about the MA in Conference Interpreting offered by Leeds University. Although it is listed on as meeting the basic criteria, I was wondering whether it is equivalent to those offered at ETI or ESIT?

Also, what about the MA offered at Université de Mons?

Thank you.

asked 05 Dec '12, 17:20

AaH's gravatar image


edited 05 Dec '12, 17:42

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All I can tell you, as a colleague who practices conference interpretation but also puts together teams of interpreters for my clients, is that I would fully trust a graduate from ETI or ESIT, whereas I've never heard of the Leeds diploma and would definitely need to hear a Leeds graduate in a dummy booth first.

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answered 13 Jan '13, 05:02

Danielle's gravatar image



I spent ten years as a trainer at the University of Leeds, so my opinion is inevitably subjective.

Let me start with a few facts, instead of opinion.

  1. Leeds graduates get very good jobs (not all as interpreters). Since it is a mixed interpreting and translation course, many of them start out as translators, and do very well. They outperform their peers at interview thanks to the training they have received.

  2. The course managers at Leeds have always tried to ensure that trainers were practising conference interpreters. Most of them are EU-accredited, many are AIIC members. The pedagogical principles applied hark back to the European Commission's 'stage' and are in line with EMCI standards.

  3. Leeds University is on the list of institutions with links to the EU and regularly receives visitors from SCIC and the European Parliament, who provide pedagogical assistance and attend the January and June exam sessions.

  4. Leeds University trainers have been involved in innovative project work to develop interpreter training resources for students.

  5. The course at Leeds may be less well known than Bath or Westminster (RIP) because it has only been running for ten years. In that short time, I think it is fair to say it has developed a good reputation with potential employers (by this I mainly mean international organisations). Off the top of my head I can think of at least fifteen graduates who have passed the EU accreditation test and five who have passed the UN test in that time. If that doesn't sound like a lot, compare it with somewhere like Bath, bearing in mind student numbers.

Reputation is a slippery concept. A course could be brilliant but some of the students might not be suited to interpreting; or a course may not be very well run or taught, but might attract naturally talented students. All I can say based on my (biased, as I mentioned) knowledge, is that in my opinion a Leeds diploma is no less valued by those in the know than a diploma from, e.g. Bath, and better regarded than a diploma from one of the many other courses that have sprung up in the UK.

However, from a financial point of view it makes MUCH more sense for you to study in France or Belgium. You will also get a two year course, instead of one, which allows you more time to develop your simultaneous technique. Your English would improve no end during a year in the UK, but I also think you are much better off studying in France or Belgium as a French A, given the typical composition of the groups at Leeds - unless, of course, you are trying to develop an English B.

But it really depends what your ambitions are and what market you are aiming at, and Gaspar has covered that question very comprehensively.

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answered 30 Jan '13, 17:06

Zest's gravatar image


edited 31 Mar '14, 16:52

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Leeds got a bit more known since Westminster stopped offering CI courses. It is a UK School, which means that there are only a few CI classes per week. They only start sim in January, while Bath does boths sim and consec from the beginning of the academic year. Mons being a Belgian school, the amount of hours spent practicing sim and consec per week is likely to be much higher.

Mons is close to the European institutions and NATO. A great opportunity to do dummy booth practice at the NATO HQ. You get to meet and mingle with students from other CI schools which adds a nice touch too.

From what I hear from senior colleagues and trainers regarding the quality of the courses and/or global reputation, the ranking would be about this:

ISIT Paris > ESIT or ETI > Bath or Mons > Leeds

(Don't throw stones at me if you don't agree, we could talk about this for hours and I'm merely repeating what I've heard from my mentors. Which doesn't mean they're always right, but regarding their achievements and experience in teaching, I blindly trust their judgment.)

But this again depends on your personality: At ISIT you have less than 5 hours of tutored CI practice a week. It needs a lot of discipline to work without tutoring.

If money matters, Mons is probably the less expensive option, since rents there are lower than in Paris and Geneva and the tuition fee is below 1.000€. Maybe even around 400€/year for the regular masters.

Leeds and Bath courses are one year courses. ISIT/ESIT Paris, ETI and Mons are two-year masters (but often, students needs three years to be good enough to meet the expectations of theirs schools, this seems to be especially true for ISIT).

One last thing: On which market will you work (i.e. what is your language combination?) ? I should have started it that actually. There'd be even more to say once you provide us with that information. :)

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answered 13 Jan '13, 08:28

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Gaspar ♦♦

edited 13 Jan '13, 08:34

For what it's worth, both schools are recognised by the German association of conference interpreters, VKD:

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answered 06 Dec '12, 04:05

Alexander's gravatar image


Dear Alexander,

Thank you very much for your answer.

But my question was more about the value of University of Leeds CI diploma on the market. Is it as prestigious as, let's say, ETI, ESIT or even Bath ? Is it recognized in the profession? I am not aware of schools' reputations in the UK.

Because I do want to become a conference interpreter but not at all cost! I would like a diploma that acts as a voucher for my abilities and skills...

(07 Dec '12, 05:48) AaH

Thank you very much for your answers!

My language combination is FR (A), EN (C), SP (C).

I have been looking into Belgian schools and three came up regularly : ISTI and Marie Haps in Brussels and Mons. Which school would you say has the best reputation?

I know ETI and ESIT are quite reknown but I am not aware of the quality of the Belgian ones.

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answered 13 Jan '13, 09:08

AaH's gravatar image



In French then :-)

La réputation d'un établissement et la qualité de l'enseignement sont (parfois) deux choses différentes. Tu peux t'épanouir et exceller dans une école mal cotée grâce à un ou deux formateurs hors-norme (et pas nécessairement reconnus eux-mêmes) ou encore une question de personnalité, suivant le concept pédagogique de l'école et de ses enseignants.

Pour aller à l'essentiel, toujours avec la mise en garde précédente, concernant la réputation : ISIT Paris/ESIT Paris/ETI > Mons > ISTI Bruxelles / ILMH (Marie Haps) Bruxelles

Combinaison linguistique : J'ai trouvé dommage que nombreux aspirants interprètes ne soient pas clairement mis en garde. Avec ta combinaison, il n'y a pas de boulot :

  • L'UE n'en veut pas (trop courant).
  • Le marché privé n'en veut pas (AB ou ABC obligatoire de nos jours).
  • Reste l'ONU, qui met la barre très haut pour le test.

Mons a signé le memorandum of understanding avec la DGACM, ce qui permet de faire un stage pendant les études et/ou un stage préparatoire au test d'accréditation et de bénéficier de soutiens pédagogiques. Plus d'infos :

L'ISTI Bruxelles avait de longue date un accord informel avec l'ONU Vienne, mais il semblerait que cette année, les étudiants ne puissent être accueillis.

L'ILMH a pu profiter de l'accueil à Vienne l'an passé, mais l'expérience ne serait pas renouvellée à l'avenir.

J'ignore si la proximité géographique entre l'ETI et l'ONU Genève donne lieu à des relations privilégiées ou si, comme pour les institutions européennes, il y a une politique de neutralité en dehors des accords de coopération.

Pour les deux écoles parisiennes, il me semble que l'ISIT envoie/envoyait des étudiants à l'ONU Vienne. Pour l'ESIT, no sé.

Mais on n'insistera jamais assez: Il n'y a pas de travail ou si peu avec FR A, EN C, ES C. A moins d'être la perle rare parmi des gens déjà triés sur le volet.

(13 Jan '13, 09:43) Gaspar ♦♦

I was considering studying a masters in interpreting in Mons as I think it may be slightly easier (only very slightly easier) to get onto the Mons masters than the Paris and Geneva masters.

However, my mother tongue is English, I speak French and Spanish fluently. Is it possible to stay at a French speaking university like Mons, if my mother tongue is not French? (I would work a lot on my French to perfect it in all areas before I even started to apply)

Is Mons easier to get into than Paris or Geneva?

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answered 04 Mar '15, 22:37

Catherine%20Boycott's gravatar image

Catherine Bo...

Il n'y a pas d'examen d'entrée dans les écoles francophones de Belgique. Y accéder n'est donc en rien difficile, hormis les exigences purement administratives.

Is it possible to stay at a French speaking university like Mons, if my mother tongue is not French?

Ce serait comme se forcer à apprendre à faire de la calligraphie avec ta main gauche, alors que tu écris avec la main droite depuis toujours : tu pas avec un désavantage qu'il est impossible, même avec énormément d'efforts, de compenser.

Voir aussi :

(05 Mar '15, 02:40) Gaspar ♦♦

Mons is definitely easier to get in than ESIT, ISIT or ETI where entrance exams can be tough. I can tell you that you will be welcome in ESIT (and most probably in ISIT and ETI too) as an English native speaker. Group exercises are much more productive if you have a mixture of native students and students working into a B. They can correct each other and practice among themselves. It is definitely not a handicap, on the contrary.

(05 Mar '15, 03:27) Danielle
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question asked: 05 Dec '12, 17:20

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