Schools to compete against translation agencies?
Thread poster: Joeri Van Liefferinge

Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:25
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Oct 20, 2002

I have already posted this thread in the Dutch forum, but I thought it might be interesting to get other people\'s views as well...

Rumour has it that a Belgian translators school is planning to set up its own translation agency. The purpose would be to have the students do the translations and to sell the translations at cheap prices (well below the market rates). The fact that they would be competing with their own graduates, does not seem to bother this particular school. They need the funds, they say...

Does anyone have experience with a similar situation? And would it really affect the market rates, as some fear? And is there anyone who knows more about this particular case (it\'s Mercator in Ghent).


[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-10-20 21:16 ]


Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:25
Latvian to English
+ ...
Not only schools...... Oct 20, 2002

I have encountered a similar situation here in Latvia (where I moved earlier this year). Thankfully I still have a large number of UK clients, who are willing to trust my translation skills. The problem in this part of the world is that Eastern Europeans undercut Western European/US translators by miles and there\'s not much we can do about it. I have not yet succumbed to accepting \'local\' work for the equivalent of about $5 per page, but have sadly come to the conclusion that translators are not taken seriously here (but, this is a different topic entirely, ie. translators\' prestige).

So, to summarise, all I can do is sympathise with your situation. I believe that quality will win in the long run! I am convinced that clients will come to realise the error of their ways and will turn to professional and experienced translators, after having discovered what it means to get a translation done on the cheap.


JCEC  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:25
English to French
Nothing to worry about Oct 21, 2002

I know of a French company which sells the work of unpaid students as raw machine translation, but this a new one on me. Under-funded schools and universities will do anything to make money. The demand for translation is so great that it will be like a drop in the ocean. Also. intelligent customers are aware of the fact that editing cheap translation is seldom cost-effective.


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 22:25
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Bad idea Oct 21, 2002

I have not come across anything like this before but it sounds like a bad (possibly unethical) idea to me.


Endre Both  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:25
Member (2002)
English to German
Not to be feared Oct 21, 2002

a) Quality will be inconsistent to poor, unless every page will be proofread by the professors themselves, which either drives up the price or makes the whole thing a poor bargain for the school.

b) The translations demanded by the market at any particular moment will not necessarily be the translations required to train future translators. If the school takes every job that comes its way, the didactic effect gets lost, which will not exactly increase the school\'s reputation. If they are picky, they won\'t have customers who mean business and don\'t want to be turned down on every second assignment.

c) In any case, the volume the school could accommodate would be very small. Even if every school had the same idea, the impact on the market (which is bigger than some would think) should be negligible.

Just as hairdressers-to-be (who have always been training on real customers) do not drive trained hairdressers out of the market, it won\'t happen in the language business either.


Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:25
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Stupid idea Oct 21, 2002

I agree with Endre, and I want to add that this must be the most addle-brained idea I have heard in a long time; I wonder at the fact that somebody had the nerve to put it forward. I mean, would you like to go to a higher-learning school that disregards professionalism and promotes sweatshop practices? And how much money do they expect to get from this? Because if the rates will be small, how much will they be left with after they pay the student-translator and the competent person who (presumably) will have to proofread? Or they intend to pay nothing to nobody? And who will take the heat if the translations are not up to scratch? Them? I mean, really.


Eugenia Corbo  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Experience for students Oct 21, 2002

The general idea of giving students some real market experience is generally good; compromising professionalism and promoting unfair competition while doing that is preposterous. What kind of professionals are they training?

At school I did have what was supposed to be \"real\" market experience but there was no unfair competition with professional translators. After finishing the coursework, there was an additional requirement for graduation that consisted of translating a certain number of words (I think it was 15000) for real clients. But the clients were usually professors from a state university that needed some research papers translated to use them as reading material in class and had zero budget for that (we are talking about state universities in Argentina). Everything was done for free. And there was no competition with professional translators because if we hadn\'t translated those papers, no one would have had them translated anyway.


Angel Biojo
United States
Local time: 21:25
English to Spanish
Good points Oct 21, 2002

Good points Endre. I agree with you. Pros do not mind competition, even if unfair at times.


English to French
+ ...
affected market rates? Oct 22, 2002

When I attended my Business School, we had a small entity offering market surveys at a price much cheaper than the professionals. A cheap price doesn\'t mean the quality is poor. Our customers were very well-known international companies.

Nowadays, many Business School do the same and I don\'t think it affects the market rates.

I think the market rates are more affected by the possibility to have something translated anywhere in the world instead of having to find a translator within a few miles, as it used to be.


Mark Cole  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:25
Polish to English
+ ...
Would a sports school offer cheap players to international teams? Jan 20, 2003

And more importantly, would they find any customers? When I studied translation at the University of Westminster there was a translation service. This has now been given up. Although I am not sure of the reasons, I can guess. You would have to pay an administrator to handle jobs. You would have to provide an office. Presumably you would have to pay the students something. You would also have to pay the lecturers to check the students\' translations (which sometimes takes more time than translating it yourself). Plus a mark-up to cover your costs. And hey presto, you end up charging the same rates as translation agencies. Unless you don\'t care about your reputation. And as far as I know, that is very important to most schools.


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