Editorial 4 – Lost in translation

Ben Redwood and Ashley Chhibber 8 February 2014

According to this year's Times Higher Education World University Rankings, 15 of the top 20 universities in the world are American. While the private education system in America results in enormous fees, their universities often end up with more money to spend, which allows them to subsidise a large portion of student loans. Certain advantages of the American system cannot be denied – and the challenge this poses to our education system, along with the need for our universities to maintain a competitive edge, cannot be ignored.

Steps must be taken to ensure that all members of staff in Britain, and particularly in Cambridge, are provided with fair wages and opportunities to advance appropriately through their careers whilst creating incentive for top academics to teach and research at Cambridge as a world leading institution competing with top American universities.

The theme of cross-cultural exchange is explored in the other parts of our paper. In our Books section this week, we discuss the extent to which a translation can ever do justice to a text; in Film & TV, we look at the failure of a great number of British comedies which have been remade by American networks. No act of translation can remain truly faithful to the original, whether that be in terms of conversation, literary and visual arts, or the translation of policies between the institutions that shape our lives.

Ahead of next week’s Town vs Gown boxing match, our Features section looks this week at the theme of Hometown Glory. Though some of you may feel that Cambridge is as much of a home as the place you return to over the holidays, such a feeling of belonging here rarely comes easily or quickly. For those of you feeling lost in translation as the mad Cambridge world changes around you once more this Lent – as with every term – then you may find yourself tempted to agree with Umberto Eco that “translation is the art of failure.”

This, however, is not a dismissal. We encourage you to continue to attempt to translate the change you want to see into actual institutional change – whether through engagement with politics or through student activism.