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Hi all, thanks for checking this. I'm devoted to be an interpreter for long and currently I'm considering to go to the UK for further study. My A language is Chinese and B is English. I found London Metropolitan (LM) from EU's cooperated institution site, and later learned that it is also recommended by AIIC. However its general ranking in UK is sort of concern and in China its reputation is yet on the way. I wonder any of you have studied there or heard about it? Are their teaching staff qualified? Courses well instructed? It's a major investment and I want to make my time there worthwhile. I appreciate your comments.

PS: Sadly I didn't receive offer from Bath or Leeds, which are very nice options to many. So please save recommendation on these two. Thank you.

asked 15 Feb '16, 08:09

Lynn%20T's gravatar image

Lynn T

edited 17 Feb '16, 06:45

Andy's gravatar image



Dear Lynn, just a quick remark: if by "recommended by AIIC" you mean that the school has been published in AIIC's schools directory, be aware that the "Publication in this directory does not constitute a recommendation by AIIC."

(15 Feb '16, 08:24) Camille Collard

Just checked the info, thanks for the tip, it's of very much help.

(16 Feb '16, 03:09) Lynn T

AIIC's Schools Finder also lists Newcastle and Manchester as meeting its basic criteria. Both teach ZH-EN. Newcastle only teaches ZH-EN!

It's also worth giving some thought to why Leeds and Bath didn't offer you a place. Did they tell you why? Can you solve those problems?

In terms of the investment paying off, there is a big risk with ANY interpreting school. Pass rates are low in most schools and not all graduates make it on the market.

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answered 15 Feb '16, 09:13

Andy's gravatar image


edited 15 Feb '16, 09:36


Hi Andy, actually, pass rates in UK (and other) schools are very high, because they are affiliated with universities that have different criteria than, for example, the French schools. For example, if your final exams in these schools are based on scores out of 100, a passing grade could be as low as 40. But the graduate would need to have received at least 65-70 to be of sufficient quality to even think of testing with the EU or the UN. This is one reason that schools such as MIIS instituted a "professional" exam, in addition to their final diploma exams. And why recruiters know that, even if a student graduated from Bath (a very respectable school), if the student received less than 65 on their finals, it will not be worth testing them.

(15 Feb '16, 10:08) JuliaP

Thanks Julia, I actually meant interpreting schools more generally (Poland, Germany, France, UK etc).

Bath, where I studied a long time ago, runs a joint Translation and Interpreting course and I always thought that was the reason for the unofficial 65% mark. Do other interpreting schools in the UK that offer only interpreting have the same 40% grading system? Westminster, before its sad demise, had a professional pass/fail standard in its final exams.

(15 Feb '16, 11:07) Andy

Westminster, before its sad demise, had a professional pass/fail standard in its final exams.

London Met doesn't have an external jury. Someone working there told me it was because it would be a too scary experience for their students. According to the directory, 38 out of 40 students passed. But can they handle stress? Well, they'll find out for the first time if/when sitting a real test. :-/

(15 Feb '16, 11:17) Gaspar ♦♦

As far as I know, all the UK schools work on a 100% system, with the lowest passing grade denoting a quality that is much below what is actually necessary to sit and pass an institution test.

I think the Belgian schools are now in the same boat, because those that had a higher pass mark than 10/20 are now told that 10 is the passing grade. I am not certain yet (as this is the first year for the Francophone schools) if this means that the external jury will give their numbers as they always have and students will benefit, or if jury members will have to make the superhuman effort of changing the operating system in our brains and lowering the numbers for the performances.

And Monterey, back before it became Middlebury, called our final, diploma exams "Professionals." Nowadays, as far as I understand, they are two separate exams, and if you want to know how the student will be, you should look at the Professional Exam results rather than the diploma exams.

All of this pre-supposes that recruiters know the differences between schools, how they grade, how the exams are scored, etc. etc. But as you can see, a grade is not a grade is not a grade...

(15 Feb '16, 14:05) JuliaP

Hi Andy, thanks for your response. I failed Bath soon after application, which presumably was due to the less-qualified Bachelor background. I understand because many students from prestigious schools apply to study in Bath every year, it is justifiable to select candidates from rather decent backgrounds (sorry if it sounds poignant but in fact I don't mean to). About Leeds, I presume it was because my EN-ZH interpreting in the interview was not sufficient to meet their standard. But you have a point, I still want to check with Leeds whether it is possible to have some feedbacks. Thanks a lot. Currently I'm preparing for Newcastle's interview, so wish me good luck ;)

(16 Feb '16, 03:36) Lynn T

Hi Gáspár ♦, from what you described it seems that LM doesn't prepare students well to face the real occupation. Further detection makes me wonder whether they are good in equipping students with what they must to master.

(16 Feb '16, 03:40) Lynn T

Good luck!! (And do try to get some feedback from Leeds if they didn't give you any on the day). I doubt they will have assessed your actual interpreting performance as that is what you are supposed to learn once you're in. It was more likely your ability to summarise, prioritise the important parts of the message, analyse... or your EN B.

(16 Feb '16, 04:20) Andy
showing 5 of 7 show 2 more comments

Hi Lynn,

and later learned that it is also recommended by AIIC

Careful there... As the disclaimer at the bottom of the page says:

The interpreting schools directory includes only interpreting programmes that meet AIIC's basic criteria. Publication in this directory does not constitute a recommendation by AIIC. Users are invited to use this Directory to compare the information provided by interpreting Programmes with all of AIIC's recommended best practice criteria.

Bear in mind that AIIC relies on the schools own declarations about the qualifications of their staff and the practices put in place, but has no (or only little) means to check whether those claims are accurate.

You could ask London Met how many of their graduates from the past five years ended up working for the EU or the UN and get in touch with them. I had put that question to them back in 2013 but never heard back.

I don't work on the ZH market, so you shouldn't just rely on my impressions, but I'm wondering if all the UK schools, cashing huge sums for a one year course are actually delivering what they're promising.

I've met and kept in touch with some ZH students met along the way, and they don't seem to have become conference interpreters after graduating. Despite the -supposedly- huge need for ZH conference interpreters.

Wasn't the training up to par to allow them to enter the market? Isn't the demand as big as told? I don't know, but you definitely should find out before spending a huge sum of money.

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answered 15 Feb '16, 08:28

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

Thanks it is very helpful. Hopefully the market will be enough to engulf these many CN-EN interpreting graduates ;) From what I've heard not many chose to stay in the UK (or I'm just constrained of sources) because the market isn't that welcoming. Hope the new deal signed between governments will boost the need for such occupation. But anyway again, thanks for your advice. I'm going to check on it.

(16 Feb '16, 03:23) Lynn T

It's not so much as the market is not welcoming than the immigration policies are just strict. They aren't build for freelancers. That's my opinion anyway.

(16 Feb '16, 03:47) EliChang

The conference segment would rather be in the UN duty stations such as Geneva or maybe Vienna. So the question would be, what percentage of ZH A graduates from UK schools manage to pass the UN accreditation test?

(16 Feb '16, 03:56) Gaspar ♦♦

A few more generic questions to put to interpreting schools before considering applying:

(08 Mar '16, 09:31) Gaspar ♦♦

Hi Gáspár ♦,

Thank you for the advice. That's a question worth asking and I will check it with school soon. If check a bit further, UN accreditation test is a must to enter UK market or any EU market, is it correct?

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answered 07 Mar '16, 21:35

Lynn%20T's gravatar image

Lynn T

Hi Lynn,

you should both research the existence, location and requirements of each market - but that is a whole different question. And make sure whether your command of English is good enough to become a B language one day.

(08 Mar '16, 09:34) Gaspar ♦♦
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question asked: 15 Feb '16, 08:09

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