U3A now has 360,000 members in the UK. There are now 1000 Local groups.
Quite an achievement
U3A provides opportunities for learning, leisure and social interaction for people in their "third age" - the time after the first age of childhood dependence, and the second age of employment and parental responsibility.
As a "self help" organisation all activities are carried out by volunteer members, using the experience of their careers or life in general.
Our members take part in a wide range of activities, mainly in small groups. There is also a programme of monthly meetings and occasional seminars covering topics of general interest.
Our base is Whitehaven Cumbria, UK, just outside the Lake District National Park. Most activities take place in various locations in the town or surrounding villages.
Any person from any walk of life not in full time employment is welcome to join - no qualifications are needed, and none are awarded, as we are not an academic institution. Our emphasis is on learning for pleasure.
There is a modest annual membership fee and a small fee payable for each meeting that is attended. Together these cover the costs of running the organisation, including fees for hiring meeting locations.
If you would like to see what the U3A has to offer please simply come along to one of our Wednesday meetings and introduce yourself as a visitor. Alternatively if an activity group interests you simple look at the webpage above and contact the person direct. There is a cover charge of £2 for coffee or tea but you will not be expected to join immediately. We can introduce you to any of the activity group leaders that you might be interested in. Don't be deterred - there are no exams or qualifications.
The University of the Third Age began in France. In 1972 in Toulouse, a successful summer school for retired people prefaced the very first Université du Troisième Age. This was quickly followed by programmes in other towns close to Toulouse and the notion spread rapidly, not only in France. Such was the take-up of the idea in other countries that an international body known as the International Association of Universitiés of the Third Age (AIUTA) was established as early as 1980.