The U3A Movement
U3A stands for University of the Third Age. There are U3As all over the world. A U3A is a volunteer co-operative of older people who share many educational, creative and leisure activities.
What is the Third Age?
The Third Age refers to the time after the First Age of childhood and the Second Age of employment and parental responsibility – often called “the age of active retirement”.
Why are we called U3A?
A U3A is a university in the original sense of the word: a community of people devoted to learning and its members are in the Third Age.
How did U3A start?
U3A is a world-wide movement. It began in France in 1972, when legislation was passed that required universities to provide more community education. The first U3A was open to anyone over retirement age; no qualifications or examinations were required, and fees were kept to a minimum, although traditional universities provided the most of the direction and course material to their U3A brethren. The idea spread rapidly throughout France and Europe, and then across the Atlantic to Quebec and California. In Great Britain, the movement evolved toward self-direction and local autonomy. This is the model followed in Australia.
Who can join U3A?
Although it is called a ‘university’, being in your Third Age is the only qualification needed to participate in the U3A movement.
No educational qualifications are required or given. Those who teach and those who learn are both members of their U3A. Annual membership fees at Victorian U3As are generally between $35 and $50, and entitle a member to enrol for as many classes or activities as they wish.