History of the U3A Organisation


The idea of a university of the third age originated from legislation in France during the 1970's which required universities to provide for lifelong education. The 'Third Age' is described as 'the period of time after the First Age of childhood dependence and the Second Age of full time employment and parental responsibility'.


The French U3A's from the outset were linked to Universities and remain so to this day.

The movement spread quickly, initially to the French speaking countries and then across the globe.


In Britain, although the first steps took place at the Universities of Cambridge and Keele, the movement decided against a university based tuition system usuing professional teachers and decided instead to found a fully participative organisation where the members organised, co-ordinated and took part in a wide range of interest groups.

Importantly they established themselves independent of any government agency or grant.

From the outset it was agreed that no qualifications were necessary to join, nor were any to be awarded within the U3A.