Three Chattanooga colleges announced Thursday plans to start long-term cultural exchanges with universities in Taiwan.
Chattanooga State Community College, Southern Adventist University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga each intend to sign memorandums of understanding with colleges in Taiwan.
The agreements will detail each school's plans to share students, faculty, resources and research opportunities, Chattanooga State paralegal program director Kenneth Goldsmith said.
"At our school -- a two-year school -- we'll be more focused on student exchanges," he said. "We have a very strong emphasis on internationalizing our campus."
Chattanooga State has already vetted an agreement with Ping Tung Institute of Commerce, he added, which the presidents of each school should sign in the next few days.
"The Taiwanese want to work with the city -- with all the educational opportunities within the city, not just one," Goldsmith said. "That could be very exciting for the city."
The planned arrangements could bring more than just Taiwanese students to Chattanooga, attorney Terry Olsen, who helped coordinate the agreements, said.
"These events mean that Chattanooga and Taiwan will have much greater activity together," he said, "which will result in more tourists coming here."
Anna Kao, director general at the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Atlanta, said recent changes to U.S. passport requirements are already expected to increase the number of Taiwanese who visit the U.S. from 400,000 to 600,000 this year.
The college exchanges could also foster business development, she said.
"With this foundation, you can bring more business and trade exchange in the future," she said. "These students will also bring a lot of potential opportunities to both parties in Taiwan and in Chattanooga."
Lucien Ellington, director of the Asia program at UTC, said Taiwanese students could arrive on UTC's campus by January 2014, and that he hopes the program will raise Chattanoogans' cultural awareness.
"Taiwan is truly an important country," he said. "Our two countries share a market economy and vibrant democracies."