INFLUENTIAL city figures gathered to celebrate the official launch of a new university research facility.
It came as the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation in Language Sciences and Education (Carilse) was unveiled at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Friday evening.
Set to operate from the University of Portsmouth’s Park Building in King Henry I Street, the centre will offer a space for cutting-edge national and international studies into languages, translation and interpreting, linguistics and education.
And as the brainchild of Professor Alessandro Benati, its future was toasted before being declared open by Baroness Usha Prashar – a crossbench member of the House of Lords.
Prof Benati, who joined the university 18 months ago, and will serve as the centre’s director, said the development marked a ‘very exciting’ time for his team and the university’s reputation.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘Languages and the understanding of communication are as important as they have ever been – we are a travelling world.
‘The innovative research at this centre will inform our teachers and forge links with institutions from across the world, but it will also attract students to the city.
‘And all this comes at a time when trends show fewer people are turning to language degrees.’
Hoping his centre will ‘stoke the fire’ surrounding the enthusiasm of language-based subjects, Prof Benati said Carilse will aim to work at the heart of the community.
In that vein, it is hoped it will not only produce ground-breaking research, but also offer language courses to the Royal Navy and international medical professionals working in Portsmouth.
Vice-chancellor, Professor Graham Galbraith, said: ‘Up and down the country, education in languages and language teaching is under some pressure – but it’s really heartening here at UoP were are going in the opposite direction.
‘We’re investing in languages, because we believe understanding more about how people learn them and develop linguistic skills is extremely important for the future of Britain.’
In a montage video of well-wishes from global academics, the centre was wished the best for the future.
Among those featured was world-famous global languages giant Noam Chomsky.
In a message to Prof Benati he said: ‘I wish you the greatest success.’