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 We can all go to University in 2009           

                            January 2009

We can all go to university in 2009 ! –


the University of the Third Age


U3a logoOne resolution we often make at this time of year is to learn something new. But there is a new way to keep your brain active, to learn new things – and to meet like minded people as well – the University of the Third Age.


It is usually written as U3A, and is a self-help organisation for people no longer in full time employment. The idea is to offer people the chance to study the widest range of different subjects and enjoy leisure opportunities using the experience and expertise of other members.

The whole idea started in France in 1972, when a new summer school for retired people was held in Toulouse. It was called the Universite du Troisieme Age and was so successful it was quickly followed by similar programmes across France. It continued to grow and an international body known as the International Association of Universities of the Third Age was established.

U3AToday here in the UK, there are local U3A groups all over the country and more are continually being set up. Each group comprises of people who, as you would expect, possess a wide and diverse range of knowledge, experience and skills. People with expertise in one area offer to teach – and that is basically how the system works. Between them U3As offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects, from art, languages, music, history, philosophy to more practical skills such as computing, photography and walking.

To check out what individual groups might offer, I looked at the web page of my nearest group here in Somerset. This month they are offering a diverse range of activities including country dancing, garden visits, keep fit, music for pleasure,  local history, French, writing for pleasure plus a theatre visit and pub lunches.  Phew – as they say, they certainly cover a wide range of interests!


And this is one of the smaller groups! Many U3A groups have around 250 members but some are as small as 12 and as large as 2000.

The groups are run on a well organised system and are overseen by a national executive committee which is made up of a chairman, four other offices and an additional 13 representatives from around the UK. Annual subscriptions are paid by members to help the running costs.

If your New Year’s Resolution is to learn something new, why not join something new as well? More information on the U3A is available on:


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