University of the Third Age (U3A)

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Universities of the Third Age, or U3A as the movement is more informally known, was born in 1973 in France. They were intended to benefit people in the third age (the age of retirement) by giving them access to non-credit courses in the humanities and natural sciences at the established degree-granting universities. The idea spread rapidly in France and other countries in Europe, and an International Association of Universities of the Third Age was established in 1975.

The first Australian U3A was established in Melbourne in 1984 through the Victorian Council of Adult Education, which provided office space for organising and the use of some of its meeting rooms. Closer to home, Sydney U3A started in 1988 with the support of the then Chancellor of the University of Sydney (the late Sir Herman Black) at a large meeting on the university campus. U3As started at Wollongong and Shoalhaven in 1987, and more than 60 U3As have been formed in NSW since this time.

The good news for those of us who do not have a U3A chapter in our town, is that U3A courses are also available online. You can study a host of courses that are listed under the following subject headings:

  • World Affairs and History
  • Nature
  • Writing and Creativity
  • Lifestyle
  • Science; and
  • Short Courses, such as “Picnic at Hanging Rock: a film and novel short course”.

Please check them out: https://www.u3aonline.org.au/courses

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