The association was founded on 29 June 1954 in Vienna under the name of “Österreichischer Dolmetscherverband UNIVERSITAS” (Austrian Association of Interpreters UNIVERSITAS). One year earlier, the organizations FIT (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs) and AIIC (Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence) were established. The name UNIVERSITAS was proposed by Dr. Viktor Petioky and was intended as a reference to the close ties of the founders and the majority of the members with the University of Vienna. With the reform of translation and interpretation studies in Austria under the Act on University Degree Programs of 1972, the name of the association was changed in 1975 to "Österreichischer Übersetzer- und Dolmetscherverband UNIVERSITAS" (Austrian Association of Translators and Interpreters UNIVERSITAS). In 2008, the Executive Board proposed a change to the name that was approved by the competent authority for associations) together with a change to the Bylaws (ZVR: 526397458). Today the association is officially called
UNIVERSITAS Austria, Berufsverband für Dolmetschen und Übersetzen Interpreters' and Translators' Association.
UNIVERSITAS Austria is a founding member of Translationsplattform, an alliance of professional associations in Austria for translators and interpreters (launched on 30 September 2009).
Article 2 of the Bylaws of UNIVERSITAS Austria states under the heading “Objective of the Association” that it is a non-political and non-profit association established for the collective organization of translators and interpreters in Austria for the purpose of representing the interests of the translation and interpreting professions. Therefore, its tasks include
(a) the representation of the common interests of the members of the profession in Austria and abroad, in particular, by informing the public of the qualifications of translators and interpreters with university education, by safeguarding and protecting the reputation of the profession, and by drafting guidelines for the provision of translation services;
(b) the promotion and support of academic work in all areas relating to translation and interpreting as well as language education in cooperation with institutions specialized in translation education at Austrian universities.
To achieve these objectives, the association takes the following measures: (a) The establishment and maintenance of permanent relations with interested business circles as well as private and public bodies in Austria and abroad. (b) The organization of gatherings, establishment of working groups, publications, in particular, of the association’s member magazine, support for the libraries of the translation training institutions at Austria’s universities, representation of the interests of members before public bodies, for example, by drafting expert opinions and submitting any relevant objections as well as taking action against unfair competition.
The association has different types of members:
- regular members
- junior members
- honorary members
- supporting members and
- friends of the association.
Regular members may be persons that have completed their studies at an Austrian university in accordance with the applicable regulations and have obtained a degree; they may also be persons who have completed university studies abroad and have obtained a degree that is equivalent to an Austrian diploma. Furthermore, regular members may also be persons who, although they have not completed translation and interpreting university studies, enjoy a recognized reputation as translators or interpreters due to their professional activities and experience.
Any person who wants to become a regular member of UNIVERSITAS Austria needs to be approved by the Executive Board after completing the relevant application procedures and payment of the membership fee for the current year. The Executive Board checks if the applicant meets the requirements stipulated in the Bylaws.
As of 31 December 2016, the association had the following number of members:
580 regular members
209 junior members
24 friends of the association
13 honorary members
Total membership: 826