Wednesday, 26 September 2012

An Outcry for Lack of Funding for Translation Courses

Through this post, I would like to share my deep concern over lack of funding for translation students in the UK (and around the world). It is a pity that Translation Studies has not yet been recognized as a proper area of study by numerous universities, the result of which is lack of translation courses on offer at universities. 
It must be noted that translation is a highly impacting practice – one that caused, or helped in causing, the rise of some of the most known empires in the history of humankind, i.e. Roman, Muslim, and British empires. Translation helps bridge the communication and cultural gap between nations, thus bringing them closer to each other. And, a translator does not just transfer material from one language to another. Rather than this, he/she acts as a ‘cultural mediator,’ mediating between source language and target language cultural patterns, and applying in his/her translations those techniques which would suit both the cultures involved. As such, a translator leads to the much-needed intercultural understanding – an understanding that is direly needed in our times, when religious and cultural divides are fast becoming the major reason for wars. 
Unfortunately, such an important area of knowledge is largely ignored in the academic spheres. What is more aggravating is that, the institutes which do offer courses in translation normally do not offer funding specifically geared towards supporting translation students. Students of translation have to compete for ‘general category’ scholarships, by which I mean scholarships reserved for a whole faculty, or for all faculties within an institute. This, obviously, profoundly lowers the chances for translation students to achieve funding. There are, however, a few universities and funding bodies which now have paid some attention to this intriguing area of study, offering direct funding for translation courses. But there are very few such funding opportunities (which I plan to enlist in my next post).
There, however, is one BIG problem. All the scholarship opportunities in translation are open to UK/EU students only, whereas foreign students, unfortunately, do not have ‘this privilege’ yet -- which is highly discouraging. 
I strongly feel that there must be translation scholarships for foreign students, who bear far more expenses for their study than the local students do, so that they could be able to conduct cutting-edge research on translation, in renowned foreign universities, with reference to a variety of languages and dialects, thus enriching the literature on translation with diversified findings and novel ideas.  
If you agree, please leave your comments in the comments box below. It would be great if you share your own thoughts and experiences in this regard. It would be especially helpful to others if you could come up with viable suggestions to address this issue.
Thank you!

P.S. I just had a conversation on Facebook with a gentleman who objected to the subject of the post, arguing that, if funding was not available, then students should self-support themselves by doing job. Though I agree with the point, but my post is a reaction to a specific observation, which I consider necessary to point out before other readers misunderstand the purpose of the post. Well, I have noted that the subject of Translation Studies is not given as much importance as is accorded to many other subjects, and, through this post, I intend to emphasize the point that Translation Studies, being as much valuable an area of study as others, such as literature, history, etc., are, should be treated equally, which definitely would include provision of equal number of scholarships. Let me, however, emphasise the point that I do not want to say that no one should do translation courses without first achieving a scholarship. No, this is not at all what I would advise a prospective student to do. I strongly believe that a prospective student should always be ready to support their studies, no matter how much struggle they would have to put forth to achieve their educational goals. Take my example. Last year, I was offered a place as PhD Translation Studies student by University of Leeds, UK, and please keep in mind that a foreign student has to pay course fee which is at least two times more than what a native student pays. In addition to it, they need to bear living expenses, too. With the ever-increasing inflation, it is becoming tougher and tougher for a foreign student to bear the huge amount of expenses that their studying and staying abroad would cause. In order to cope with these difficulties, I looked for a translation scholarship, but could not find one. I got my admission deferred to 2012, during which time I started freelance translating as a part-time profession, and worked day and night to gather enough monetary resources to support my studies and my family in the UK. This is what many students would already have been doing, and perhaps better than me, but I am sure that everyone would agree upon the point that a funded student, especially a funded research student, can work with full peace of mind as compared to the student who has to worry about many things other than studies. Additionally, when other departments get specific funding for their students, Translation Studies departments should also be allotted the same share in their host institutes.


  1. AoA.

    You are doing a very good job!

    Never get disappointed from any criticism... It will lead you towards success IN SHA ALLAH!


  2. Translation studies is an important newly emerging field and I hope your blog will do a big favor to the researchers!

  3. Thank you very much for the appreciation.

    You agree with you that Translation Studies is a comparatively recent field of study, and is highly important in the fast-shrinking world of today, where a translator plays a vital role in international communication. As regards my blog, it is just a humble effort, and cannot yet be compared with many other great translation blogs, which are constantly providing great bulk of knowledge to their readers. However, I am sure that, with the support of my wife, talented youth like you, and my dear colleagues from Pakistan, including Abid, Asghar Sahab the great, and Shakir, and abroad, I would be able to make useful contribution.

    I intend to start an exciting new series of posts covering the thoughts and experiences of established as well as budding translators and academicians, and I wish that it may begin with an interview with my respectful PhD supervisor, Dr. Jeremy Munday. I know that, if he could spare some time out of his busy schedule and share his thoughts, his broad vision and scholarly approach would impart a lot of knowledge to translation students and professionals alike. Do read the interview when it comes out.

    By the way, I congratulate you on your standing first in MPhil admission test, and wish you the best with your higher studies.

    Best wishes and regards,


  4. Wonderful post, and quite on point as well. It's really a shame that more resources are not being allocated to supporting this field of study. From personal experience I can say working with translators for various languages has vastly broadened my own horizons and connected me with many wonderful people around the world. I hope that with enough support, we can carry translation to the forefront of academic consciousness and get funding to the very necessary task of connecting the world.