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 using 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.

Costa Brava U3A

U3A is an acronym of  ‘University of the Third Age’ but we are not a university in the literal sense as we have members and not students. There are no qualifications to join and none are given. The Third Age refers to the period of time after the First Age of childhood dependence and the Second Age of full-time employment and parental responsibility. Anyone in the Third Age can apply for membership of the Costa Brava U3A - all you need is interest and enthusiasm.

The Costa Brava U3A was founded in October 2001 and currently has more than 400 members based on the Costa Brava, the majority living between L'Escala in the North and Sant Feliu de Guixols in the South. Our organisation is English speaking but currently twenty percent of the membership are non-British passport holders. At the moment we have about forty groups covering a wide range of activities and interests.

Our U3A is a democratic, self-funded and self-managed organisation. It exists to provide educational and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment. We draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of our members to organise study and activity groups in accordance with our Association Rules.

One of the most important benefits to come from membership of the U3A is the opportunity to develop new interests and skills in an informal atmosphere among like-minded people. We also actively seek opportunities to promote and encourage integration with the local Catalan community.

Although our members range in age from around fifty to over ninety, we exist to learn from each other. When you join a group it is important to not only take part but be willing to contribute to the organisation of a group event. To see the variety of activities on offer to members please look under the ‘groups’ heading on this website. Each group is self funding but may make small charges to cover special needs. The annual membership subscription is currently fifteen euros.

The size of groups varies, but it is important to understand that the smaller groups of fewer than ten people are just as important as the larger ones. We are always keen to expand our range of activities and welcome any suggestions. If you would like to lead a new group please talk to the Group Liaison Officer or a member of the committee.

Every year we aim to hold five Association Meetings. In normal times four of these are held in Restaurant Sala Gran, Llofriu on the C66 between La Bisbal and Palafrugell, while  the fifth is our AGM which is followed by the annual luncheon and may be held in a more appropriate venue. Our meetings start at 10.15am with an opportunity to meet group representatives for a coffee and chat.  The formal meeting starts between 11.00am and 11.15am. Each meeting begins with an address by the President and reviews of current group activities. Occasionally there is a talk on a topic of general interest.

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