Richard Schneider, in his Nachrichtenportal at Alexander von Obert’s Übersetzerportal, reports that the course for translators and interpreters at the Fachhochschule in Munich is being closed.
The report is long and quotes both Dr. Anne Hueglin, the American who is the professor in charge of the program (she is a professor of English in the economics department), and a former student, Tanja Burger. Here’s the department’s website.
A Fachhochschule is rather like a polytechnic in Britain, before they were converted into universities. It doesn’t have quite the cachet of a university, but it is not far off. It tends to be more oriented towards the working world. FHs call themselves ‘University of Applied Sciences’, which is misleading, because they don’t just do sciences, nor can what they do automatically be defined as ‘applied’.
This FH has the peculiarity, though, that for its diploma, instead of offering a four-year course, it offers a two-year course, the first two years of study being done at one of the five Fachakademien in Bavaria. At A Fachakademie a student can, in two or three years, study for the Staatsprüfung für Übersetzer und Dolmetscher. This qualification in most Länder (states) of Germany qualifies a student to be a certified translator and/or interpreter for the courts. In Bavaria it functions as a final exam for these colleges too.
So the FH had to persuade people it was worth studying for two more years to get the diploma.
I taught at a Fachakademie for twenty years, so I often heard about the Fachhochschule. One of the things I liked best about the FAK was the amount of useful special-subject and background studies courses given. For instance, someone who did English and law would do a German course in law and some two-language law courses, legal translation classes EN>DE and DE>EN, liaison interpreting with a legal basis (and voluntarily also consecutive interpreting), and at-sight legal translation. (The FH only does technology or economics).
One of the things I liked least was the recurring feedback from many students that what they were doing wasn’t worth doing, and I see that Tanja Burger’s account says that she didn’t have much self-confidence after finishing at the FAK (the SDI in Munich), whereas after the FH she had the confidence to start her own translation business. And qualifications are very important in Germany.
Then again, it depends on the individual and the market situation. I don’t know how many students of translation at the more traditional university courses get in-house translation jobs nowadays – there are certainly some of those around that only take students from Mainz-Germersheim or Saarbrücken or Heidelberg, but the number of in-house positions has much decreased.