Universities of the Third Age
U3A (University of the Third Age) is a world-wide organisation. It began in France in 1968, when legislation was passed that required universities to provide more community education. In 1973 a highly-rated gerontology course was provided by Toulouse University for local retired people, a course which was extremely successful and which led to the formation of what was to be the first U3A. This organisation was open to anyone over retirement age; no qualifications or examinations were required and fees were kept to a minimum.
Universities of the Third Age, or U3As as they are more often called are voluntary, non-profit organisations which aim to offer older people low-cost educational opportunities which operate in a pleasant, supportive social setting. There are no formal entry requirements, no examinations and no “awards”. U3As are basically self-help groups built on the premise that collectively older people have the skills and knowledge to provide learning opportunities (education) for themselves. After all, “experts” of all kinds in all fields eventually retire! In fact the word “university” in the title is used in its earliest sense – a community of scholars who get together to help each other in a learning/social experience. Most of the groups in Australia are community based, but there are several, mainly in the capital cities, which do have an affiliation with and receive support from their local University. The principles of self-help and mutual support are the cornerstone of the U3A movement.
For further information about U3A in NSW, download Network’s own