Dr. Hisashi Kitanaka came out of London in the early 1980s with a doctorate in philosophy and a commitment to improving scholarship opportunities outside of Japan for young and promising Japanese students. He first worked with Trinity College, Dublin (hence the name Trinity Foundation Programme) to create something that did not exist at the time: a specialized programme that students could attend prior to beginning their degree course that would compensate for linguistic and cultural differences.
Having been through the Japanese educational system prior to coming to the UK, Dr. Kitanaka knew firsthand that scholarship was taken very seriously in Japan and that there were large percentages of Jr. High and High School students who attended special cram schools to supplement their normal tuition. Japan had both qualified and capable students and a need for more educational opportunities overseas if the country was going to learn to truly think globally. But language and other cultural barriers kept the countrys best and brightest from winning places in English-speaking institutions. In working to solve this problem, Dr. Kitanaka helped design a programme that has since been emulated by several other institutions in the UK.
St. Andrews University in Scotland (the oldest college in the UK, established 1410) continues to make use of the same foundation course that Dr. Kitanaka designed along with the university’s vice-chancellor Dr. Stephen Magee in the late 1980s.Â Â A version of the foundation course syllabus that Dr. Kitanaka helped produce for Bangor University in the late 1990s (then University of Wales at Bangor) is still in use today at the structural core of ELCOS (the one year English-as-a-second-lanaguage programme that Bangor University offers non-native students prior to beginning their degree course a system is used to get new admits from various nations up to speed and one that grew directly out of the institute that Dr. Kitanaka had once set up under the Bangor University umbrella).
In 2002, the Trinity Foundation Programme went independent, leaving its old foundation course at the then University of Wales, Bangor to become ELCOS and benefit students from all non-English speaking nations. By 2005, Dr. Kitanaka had retired to his native Japan to oversee the International Federation of Universities, an organization that he founded to recruit and assist young people with promise who might be interested in studying overseas.
For the last six years, the Trinity Foundation Programme has thrived on the Bangor High Street under the direction of its Principal Kumi Sunada. Because it was the Trinity Foundation Programme that first introduced many Japanese scholars to Bangor (some of whom have gone on to do advanced degrees and/or find jobs for themselves in North Wales), and also because of its activities in promoting cooperation and interaction with the local population, the Trinity Foundation Programme is popularly regarded as the nexus of the Japanese community in Bangor.