National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
THE TAIWAN-PARAGUAY POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY: TAIWAN TECH'S FIRST TRANSNATIONAL EDUCATION PROJECT
- Highly internationalized Taiwan Tech sought out to lead project
- Taiwan Tech meets challenges, maintains teaching quality during pandemic
It was in 2017, that the former Paraguayan President Horacio Cortes came to Taiwan for a state visit and approached Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen with the idea of a joint Taiwan – Paraguay higher education institution. President Tsai immediately agreed to offer support to its diplomatic ally, and only two years later, in March 2019, the first batch students took entrance exams in Paraguay’s capital Asuncion to compete for one of the highly coveted places at new Tai¬wan-Paraguay Polytechnic University (UPTP.)
Highly internationalized Taiwan Tech sought out to lead project
The Paraguayan government has been impressed by Taiwan’s successful system of technological education and considered it as a suitable model for their own country. Not surprisingly, the Taiwan government sought out Taiwan Tech, Taiwan’s leading institution in higher technological education, to lead this transnational education project. This was the birth of Taiwan Tech’s first “off-shore” campus offering four-year undergraduate programs in Civil, Industrial, Information and Electro-mechanical Engineering, all taught in English, another novelty for Paraguay’s higher education.
The project was new terrain for everyone, and the time line was incredibly tight: Taiwan Tech developed a blueprint for the new institution in June 2018, designed curricula, assisted with the set-up of laboratory facilities and administrative procedures, and most important, provided experienced “flying faculty” from Taiwan Tech. The Paraguayan counterpart had to provide the “hardware”, i.e. the construction of the campus, the buildings, and the administrative staff. In March 2019, the first entrance exams were held with 255 young Paraguayans competing for a place at UPTP, 109 of whom were finally admitted.
Taiwan Tech meets challenges, maintains teaching quality during pandemic
“It has been an enormous effort,” said Wang Meng-jiy, Dean of the Office of International Affairs, “both for our OIA staff, as well for our pioneering faculty members. Although Taiwan Tech is a highly internationalized institution and very experienced in university administration and management, it has been a real challenge to implement our system in another country. There are different procedures, rules and regulations, not to mention the language barrier. We had a steep learning curve, and the experiences we gained through this project made it all worthwhile.”
UPTP admits 100 new students every year who first have to take part in a one-semester preparatory program in mathematics and English. When the first coronavirus infections occurred in March 2020, the Paraguay government suspended all classes and public and private gatherings, so the UPTP campus was closed just one month after the beginning the term. However, Taiwan Tech professors adapted quickly to the new situation and continued to offer online, making it the only university in Paraguay that continued with regular classes. As the epidemic situation has not yet abated, virtual courses are continued until now. Paraguayan students have been deeply impressed how UPTP has managed the difficult situation, and expressed their sincere gratitude that the quality of teaching could be maintained under the current circumstances.