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What is U3A?

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, once every two months. Last about 2 hours.) 

  • For half the time there is an invited speaker, a leader in their field of expertise. 

  • Refreshments are provided with the opportunity to socialise.

  • After refreshments, a mini-talk is usually presented. This can be: One member sharing their knowledge or experience or Study groups taking it in turn to present their “best”, recent talk(s). 

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 fulfil the spirit of U3A as stated by Peter Laslett who founded U3A. 

Examples of Special Interest (Study) Groups are: Art for Fun, Inventors, Archaeology, Medical Science, Modern History, Literature, Films, .Ancient History, Travel etc etc 
Special Interest [Study] Groups are U3A’s point of difference from other groups for Seniors. Within these groups, the main learning and fellowship occur. 

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. 

Not all U3As are the same 
Each U3A is autonomous and may be slightly different from its neighbour, depending on what resources are available within its membership and within the community. Contact the U3A in your area to obtain more information on the structure and offerings. 
The model outlined above is British, the French model being quite different. In France and some other European countries, U3A study groups are taught by working academics, rather like our Continuing Education courses. In Britain, Australia and New Zealand, most U3As are self-help endeavours. 

Other Groups for Seniors 
There are many groups which offer membership to retired folk. Some of them are listed below: 

  • Continuing Education classes possibly at Universities and Polytechs. 

  • Service groups such as Rotary and Lions. 

  • Sports clubs including Chess, Bridge, Mah Jong, Craft and gardening clubs. 

  • Social groups such as "Friendship" which offer social contact and interesting speakers. 

Before joining U3A, we need to read and consider that U3A is none of the above, although it does contain elements of some of them. 

Joining a group which suits our needs and in which we can fully participate is very beneficial to us and to the group as a whole. Active participation is the key to that active brain and fulfilment! 

For more information, down load the Starter Kit from the 
U3A Resources Page >

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