What is the University of the Third Age?
The University of the Third Age (U3A) is the fastest growing educational organisation in Australia. It is an Australia-wide group of affiliated local U3As which all follow the general aims of providing life-long learning and social opportunities for their members in their ‘third age’.
U3As are voluntary, non-profit organisations which offer older people low-cost educational opportunities 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 older people collectively have the skills and knowledge to provide learning opportunities (education) for themselves. Members share the skills gained during their ‘second age’ - their career and life experiences. Why waste that knowledge and skills in retirement? 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 social learning experience.
Most U3A groups in Australia are community based, but there are some, mainly in the capital cities, which are affiliated with and supported by their local university. The principles of self-help and mutual support are the cornerstones of the U3A movement. Dr Peter Laslett established the U3A movement in the UK, and the idea has spread across the world.