Academic and Research Cooperation(Case)

Taiwan Tech assists Paraguay in nurturing talent

Taiwan Tech assists Paraguay in nurturing talent

Exchange highlights

  • Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University a model for technical and vocational education.
Taiwan Tech assists Paraguay in nurturing talent

The Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University (UPTP), jointly established by Taiwan and Paraguay, is Taiwan’s first transnational higher education project in Latin America. In July 2022, the first intake of 101 students completed their one-and-a-half-year study program at Taiwan Tech. A festive farewell ceremony for the Paraguayan students was held on 8 July 2022 on the Taiwan Tech campus which was attended by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen and the incoming Ambassador of Paraguay in Taiwan, Carlos Jose Fleitas Rodriguez.

In front of more than hundred students, Taiwan Tech faculty, and distinguished guests from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, acknowledged the achievements of this unique international higher education cooperation. In her speech,

President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the university’s achievements. Taiwan Tech has overcome cultural, linguistic and geographic barriers to help foster educational excellence in Paraguay, one of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, and thus not only established a milestone in higher education cooperation between the two countries, but also a model for the export of Taiwan’s technical and vocational education to other countries. The UPTP was set up with four departments, namely departments for construction, mechanical, industrial and information engineering. Courses have been taught by Taiwan Tech “flying faculty”, and, since the outbreak of the pandemic, also in online mode.

Taiwan Tech’s President Jia-yush Yen pointed out in his speech that the first intake of students who came to Taiwan in February 2021 had to overcome quite a few difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But finally, they had the chance to experience Taiwan's excellent engineering education, and visit some of Taiwan’s most impressive infrastructure projects. President Yen urged the students to contribute to their country's development after their return to Paraguay with the knowledge and skills they acquired in Taiwan.

The UPTP is a unique project with the aim of bringing Taiwan Tech’s famed engineering education to Paraguay. The idea of a higher education project was brought up by former Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes on a state-visit to Taiwan in 2017. Taiwan Tech was selected by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to implement this project - for good reasons: As Taiwan’s most internationalized institution, Taiwan Tech has a highly professional Office of International Affairs which has collected decade-long experience with international education management and intercultural communication.

Still, the UPTP has been a challenging endeavor, even for the most experienced staff, as Professor Yvonne Yeh, the Dean of International Affairs explains: “The UPTP is a highly complex project that combines education and diplomacy. Exporting Taiwan Tech engineering education to another continent, bridging cultural and linguistic gaps, and dealing with a different administrative and legal framework would have already been demanding under normal circumstances. When the pandemic broke out in 2020, we have turned into crisis-management mode, but I am proud to say, that my team has found solutions to all problems and grown with the task. The know-how that we accumulated in managing this transnational education project is certainly Taiwan Tech’s biggest gain”

The high-profile farewell ceremony on July, 8th marked another milestone on Taiwan Tech’s successful path to internationalization. The Office of International Affairs had prepared a special photo exhibition on that occasion that documented UTPT’s five-year history, including President Tsai’s 2019 visit of the campus in Asunción, when the first intake of students started their preparatory classes. Also, Taiwan’s public TV station produced a special report on the UTPT, interviewing the project’s most important stakeholders and portraying the student life of the young Paraguayans at Taiwan Tech.

The ceremony was an emotional farewell for the pioneering group of Paraguayan students. After 18 months of a tailor-made program that was packed with courses and tutorials, visits of companies and infrastructure projects, and a flurry of extra-curricular activities, all felt a deep sense of gratitude. Ivan Ayala, the UPTP student representative, thanked Taiwan Tech professors for their professionalism and for giving them first-hand experiences of work ethics. He concluded his speech saying “In a few days we will be flying to Paraguay, knowing that we have a home on the other side of the world, a home in the heart of Asia.”

Cristhian Samudio, a mechanical engineering student, enjoyed studying in Taiwan Tech’s English-speaking environment which he deems helpful for his future career. Meeting and interacting with students and professors from different countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan was an experience that cannot be made in Paraguay. He expressed the hope that he would be able to work remotely in the future, taking on projects from all over the world. Sofia Ramos, from the Department of Industrial Management, said with a smile, "I don't want to leave, and I hope I can come to Taiwan in the future to pursue my master's degree. And María Jose Olmedo added, "It did take time to get used to this place, but now it feels like home.”
Yvonne Yeh, the Dean of International Affairs, stressed the importance of the international atmosphere that Taiwan Tech’s campus offers to UPTP students: “Meeting graduate students from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Vietnam etc. broadened their horizons and gave them more ideas for the future.”

When they return to Paraguay, they will have to do an internship for one semester as a requirement for graduation scheduled for the end of this year.

Taiwan Tech assists Paraguay in nurturing talent
Group photo with President Tsai.

Taiwan Tech assists Paraguay in nurturing talent
The president took a group photo with the staff involved in the UPTP Project.

Taiwan Tech assists Paraguay in nurturing talent
Guests from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education took a group photo with students who performed well.