About the U3A Movement


The University of the Third Age (U3A) is an international organization, embodying the principles of life-long education and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, in an atmosphere of mutual learning and teaching. Each U3A is a learning community, organized by and for people who can best be described as being active in retirement - the so-called Third Age of their lives.

The term “University” is used in the original and medieval sense of an association or community of teachers and scholars, united in the pursuit of knowledge. Third Age refers to the life period of active retirement, which follows the first age of childhood and formal education and the second age of working life, and which precedes the fourth age of dependence.

Origin of the Universities of the Third Age


The concept of U3A was developed in Toulouse in 1972, to bring older people into contact with academic programs at the University. It spread rapidly through France and throughout Europe. Many universities either arranged for older people to participate in existing academic programs or established new programs specifically designed for Third Age students.

Development in Australia

Australia's first U3A began in Melbourne in 1984. Australia has now developed over 250 U3As with approximately 85,000 members. These are based in metropolitan, regional and rural areas, and follow the British self-help model of teaching and learning over a wide range of subject areas, dependent upon the membership's own expertise, knowledge and skills.