The University of the Third Age

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.What is the University of the Third Age

U3A (The University of the Third Age) is a UK-wide movement which brings together people in their ‘third age’ to develop their interests and continue their learning in a friendly and informal environment.

If you’re wondering what is meant by the third age – it is a time after you have finished working full-time or raising your family and have time to pursue your interests or just try something new.

U3A has a ‘university’ of members who draw upon their knowledge and experience to teach and learn from each other but there are no qualifications to pass – it is just for pleasure. Learning is its own reward.

It’s all voluntary; a typical U3A will be home to many activity groups covering hundreds of different subjects – from art to zoology and everything in between.

Formed over 38 years ago, there are now over 1,000 U3As across the UK, with thousands of interest groups between them and more than 400,000 members nationally – plus we’re growing every day.

 

Where they came from

Founded over 38 years ago, the UK U3A movement (based loosely on the French model) aims to encourage groups of people in their third age to come together and continue their enjoyment of learning in subjects of interest to them.Third age

From the start, the guiding principles were to promote lifelong learning through self-help interest groups covering a wide range of topics and activities.

The ‘third age’ is defined by a time in your life (not necessarily chronological) where you have the opportunity to undertake learning for its own sake. There is no minimum age, but a focus on people who are no longer in full-time employment or raising a family.

Their founders envisaged a collaborative approach with peers learning from each other. The U3A movement was to be self-funded, with members not working towards qualifications but learning purely for pleasure. There would be no distinction between the learners and the teachers. Everyone could take a turn at being both if they wished.

From its beginnings in 1981, the movement grew very quickly and by the early 1990s, a U3A was opening every fortnight. U3As grew in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and in 2008 membership was increasing by 11% every year. 2010 saw our membership hitting the quarter million mark.

At the end of 2016 the U3A movement reached the milestone of 1,000 U3As. It was celebrated by a conference with speakers including Eric Midwinter. (One of the founders of the U3A movement.)

Today, the movement includes over 400,000 U3A members in more than 1,000 U3As and is continuing to grow every day.

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September 20, 2019 |

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