The University of the Third Age (U3A) movement is a unique and exciting organisation which provides life-enhancing and life-changing opportunities for retired and semi-retired people to come together and learn together, not for qualifications but for its own reward: the sheer joy of learning.
Members share their skills and life experiences: the learners teach and the teachers learn, and there is no distinction between them.
The U3A movement is supported by its national organisation, the Third Age Trust which runs a small national office with a resource centre and full-time staff. A national magazine, Third Age Matters, is circulated to all members five times a year. A small part of each member’s annual subscription goes to fund this office as well as the centrally provided insurances and other support services.
The Third Age Trust national website www.u3a.org.uk has details of all U3A groups and has much useful information about policies, resources, learning ideas and even some items for purchase.
At the time of writing, there were over 999 individual U3As in the UK, with over 380,000 members in total. Each U3A is an independent charity, organised by a committee of volunteers. Membership varies from 12 to 2,000, with an average of about 250.
It is a founding principle of U3A that learning is continuous and that members should be actively involved, using their knowledge, skills and experience. Each U3A organises meetings and interest groups, according to the wishes of its members.
All U3A members should consider carefully what skills and knowledge they have gained over the years and how they might be able to contribute to their own U3A.