The Department of Translation and Interpretation Studies was established in 1997. Until that time there was no degree programme or special training for interpreters or translators in Lithuania. Interpreting and translation services were provided by individuals that had mastered foreign languages well, but had no special professional training in translation or interpreting. With the establishment of the Department of Translation and Interpretation Studies, Vilnius University began offering master’s degree programmes and professional studies in interpreting and translation.
The development of individual study programmes for master’s degrees and professional studies in interpreting and translation was a task of utmost importance. Due to the structure of traditional bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes in foreign languages, these programmes were not able to offer a sufficient number of academic hours devoted to translation theory and practice or on specific applied aspects of translation and interpreting. Efforts were then made to build a team of researchers and faculty members teaching languages at departments within the Faculty of Philology and involved in research dealing with the study of translation and interpreting, as well as the application of it in practice.
Professional translators and interpreters are currently trained in line with master's degree and special professional study programmes that are harmonised with respective training programmes of institutions training translators and interpreters in the European Union and in line with respective qualification and quality requirements, by taking into consideration the demand and career prospects for interpreters and translators at EU institutions and in the Lithuanian labour market.
The Department of Translation and Interpretation Studies is still young but has already trained large numbers of translators and interpreters who currently work in a number of foreign policy and business sectors and in EU institutions. The academic staff employed by the Department is active in the areas of translation theory, methodology of teaching translation and interpretation, and terminology. Moreover, they are authors of a number of glossaries.
The Directorate General for Interpretation of the European Commission (SCIC) has officially recognised the Department of Translation and Interpretation Studies to be the only training centre in Lithuania training conference interpreters in line with the professional requirements set for EU interpreters. The professionals employed by interpretation bodies of the European Commission and the European Parliament provide pedagogical assistance to the Department in training interpreters. The said professionals consult and participate in the process of practical training, seminars, mock conferences, and examinations.