University of the Third Age -The Age of Active Retirement - People Exchanging Knowledge.

U3As are for people in retirement or semi-retirement. They enable members to share intellectual, cultural, creative, physical and leisure interests. These activities encourage positive ageing, and provide fulfilment and personal enrichment.

U3As are voluntary, non-profit organisations which are non-sectarian and non-political. There is no central governing body, each group sets up its own organisation and programmes, run by volunteers from among the group’s members. Groups fund themselves, arrange speakers for the regular meetings, often drawing on their own members to share their specific experiences and talents. There are no advantages, either material or financial, for those who volunteer their services.

There are no exams, no educational requirements, no compulsory activities. Costs are minimal to suit everyone, and meetings are held during the daytime.

The purpose of U3A is to:
• Encourage further learning by listening, understanding, contributing, researching and participating in discussion and relevant excursions about new topics.
• Tap the great reservoir of knowledge, skills and experience of retired men and women.
• Provide a venue for the meeting together of like minded people to learn, contribute and to make new friends in their local community.

“Those who teach shall also learn.
Those who learn shall also teach”
Peter Laslett - U3A Cambridge, 1981

This is particularly true of U3A which calls us to active learning, often beyond our comfort zone. This provides the zest and excitement of research and discovery about topics which, in our busy working lives, were completely inaccessible to us.

Main Meetings.
Held on a regular basis. (Once a month, Last about 2 hours.)
For half the time there is an invited speaker, a leader in their field of expertise.
Before that a member or members share their knowledge or experience
Study groups take it in turn to present their “best”, recent talk(s).
Refreshments are provided with the opportunity to socialise. (There is a small charge.)

Special Interest [Study] Groups are U3A’s point of difference from other groups for Seniors. Within these groups, the main learning and fellowship occur.

Examples of Special Interest (Study) Groups are: Art Practical, History, Films, Travel, Outdoor Activities, Photography etc etc.

It should be clear at the outset to new members that involvement in these groups is a condition of membership. There are lots of other organisations for Seniors which do not require this which may suit them better.

New members can be asked to choose two or three groups listed on the registration form. The conveners of those groups can then approach the new member to offer a welcome, a lift to their first meeting, etc

Each Special Interest (Study) Group
• Meets regularly once or twice a month.
• Has between 6 and 20 members
• Its programme is chosen and presented by its members.
• Members are supported in organising their presentation if wished.
• New members may present a 10 minute talk to begin with
• Each member takes responsibility for presenting, to the rest of the group, information on the chosen topic. This may come from their own background, experience or research.. Outside speakers are sometimes invited to present but, on the whole members enjoy the opportunity to extend themselves.
• Meets in members’ homes or at community centres.
• A convenor from the group organises the “nuts and bolts”.
• Any member should belong to at least one of these groups. There is no upper limit to how many groups a member may belong to. Just time!
• The real socialising takes place in these small groups.
• By doing this we strive to fulfill the spirit of U3A as stated by Peter Laslett who founded U3A.


A Committee keeps the organisation running:
• Elected annually.
• About 10 members
• Responsible for such tasks as president, secretary, treasurer, new members, newsletter, setting up the venue for meetings, catering, publicity, convenor support, organising the major speaker and website.