For the first time in Taiwan's history, prisoners will soon have the chance to receive a higher education from university professors.

Chang Jung Christian University (CJCU) in Greater Tainan has reached an agreement with Tainan Prison to offer Chinese, English and other liberal arts classes for people serving time at the institution.

The prison holds more than 3,000 inmates. Warden Chen Chin-feng (陳進豐) says about 800 inmates have high school diplomas, and a survey conducted by the CJCU shows that almost 300 desire to further their studies.

Starting next month, credit classes will be offered. If the program is successful, Bachelor's degree programs will follow. Course credits obtained in prison can be transferred to any college the prisoners enroll in the future. Inmates will be charged NT$400 (US$13) per credit.

The CJCU says the ages of the prisoners that have signed up so far range from 23 to 63.

Tainan Prison currently has junior high and high school continuing education courses.

Chen hopes the college classes will “encourage more people to finish their college education after serving their time and increase chances of employment.”

Previously, the only correctional facility in Taiwan to offer higher education was Chiayi Prison, which offered online courses.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole