Southern University of New Orleans is set to exchange students and faculty members with a university in Ghana, in west Africa, starting as early this fall.

SUNO Chancellor Victor Ukpolo said the long-distance partnership will “expand the university’s footprint,” opening up opportunities for students to pursue international study.

A “memorandum of understanding” is set to be signed on SUNO’s campus Tuesday with representatives from the Central University College of Ghana on hand.

The agreement will allow the two universities to begin working out details of an exchange program that would send university faculty and students from Ghana to SUNO and vice versa.

The New York Times recently named Ghana, which has the continent’s fastest-growing economy, the fourth most desirable travel destination in the world for 2013. The newspaper also said the country of 24 million people is one of the safest in Africa.

With a similar climate to Louisiana, and situated on the coast, Ukpolo envisions designing joint research projects where students and professors from both countries could study topics including agriculture, the environment and coastal erosion.

SUNO Provost David Adegboye said there is no limit to the research potential that exists between the two countries and the opportunities for collaboration between the two universities.

The Ghanaian university, known as CUC, was founded in 1988 as a pastoral training institute before it was rechristened the Central University College in 1997. The school is known for its programs in Christian Theology, business administration, economics and computer science programs.

The university’s main campus is in the urban city of Miotso. With an undergraduate population of about 8,400 students and four other campuses, it is the largest private university in Ghana.

Ukpolo said the agreement between the two schools will allow faculty to start brainstorming about what types of proposals could attract international research grants.

“This is really giving our faculty an opportunity to dream and collaborate with colleagues in Ghana,” he said.

While the partnership is a first for SUNO, it follows two similar agreements Southern’s Baton Rouge campus has inked with universities in Turkey and Brazil.

In those agreements with Abant Izzet Baysal University in Bolu, Turkey, and Rio de Janeiro State University, exchange students have the opportunity to participate in “three-plus-one” programs, in which students can start at the overseas school before finishing their bachelor’s degrees in Baton Rouge.

Ukpolo said that while individual courses will transfer between SUNO and CUC, it isn’t a given that the three-plus-one program will be in play.

“Right now the agreement is so broad,” Ukpolo said. “We need to let our faculty and students shape how this collaboration is going to happen.”