Background

What is the Third Age Trust?

The Third Age Trust is the national representative body for the University of The Third Age movement in the UK, providing a wide range of support services to existing U3As. In addition it helps to develop new U3As and to raise the profile and increase awareness of the movement throughout the UK.

What is the Third Age?

The Third Age can be a time of creative activity and fulfilment — free from the restrictions and responsibilities of the Second Age of full-time employment.  Around one in five of the U.K. population is in the Third Age.

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What is U3A?

U3A is a learning cooperative of older people which enables members to share many educational, creative and leisure activities.

Who can join?

No qualifications are required. Anyone who shares our principles of self-help learning can join. We believe that everyone in the Third Age has something to contribute and much to receive.

How does it work?

Each U3A draws upon the knowledge, experience and skills of its members to organise local study and activity groups. Throughout the country, U3As offer hundreds of subjects in diverse fields including art, languages, music, history, science, literature, poetry, theatre-going, philosophy, crafts, garden visits, archaeology, bridge and computing. The choice of subjects depends only on the members’ wishes and the availability of volunteers with enough expertise and/or enthusiasm to act as Group Leaders. There are NO exams (phew!) and participation in any group is open to all.

Origins

The seeds for Lifelong Learning for Older People were sown at the Summer School of the Université du Troisième Age held in Toulouse in 1972. This led within a year to the formation of the International Association of U3As (AIUTA). The movement soon became worldwide. In the UK, the U3A movement started with the creation of the Third Age Trust in 1982 as a registered charity and limited company.

UK U3As

In the UK it was decided during early discussions to adopt an approach that was independent of the universities.  It was realised that Third Agers themselves had the skills to organise and teach in their own autonomous learning groups, the local U3As.  The principle was to be "we teach one another", not "they teach us".  In continental Europe and America, development has been more dependent on the universities.

There are now more than 1,000 U3As throughout the United Kingdom with a total membership exceeding 400,000. Each U3A develops its own character in response to local needs and resources.

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Click here to watch a short film about the benefits of becoming a member of this amazing movement.  For more information on the movement's history, visit the Third Age Trust website.

The virtual U3A

The Virtual U3A (vU3A) went live in January 2009. It is an online-only U3A, affiliated to the Third Age Trust.  One of its principal aims is to provide the U3A experience for those who are rendered isolated in some way by circumstances or geography and unable to play a full part in a terrestrial U3A.  More information is available at www.vu3a.org where one can also apply for membership.

To learn more about the Basingstoke - Old Basing U3A specifically, please click here.