About us

u3a is a UK-wide movement of locally-run interest groups that provide a wide range of opportunities to come together to learn for fun. Members explore new ideas, skills and activities together.

There are over 1000 u3as with around 400,000 members; membership costs less than £20 on average per year and is open to everyone who’s not working full-time.

u3a has members who draw upon their knowledge and experience to teach and learn from each other but there are no qualifications to pass – it is just for pleasure. Learning is its own reward.

It's all voluntary; a typical u3a will be home to many activity groups covering hundreds of different subjects - from art to zoology and everything in between.

Two members of Slough u3a talking after a game of table tennis

Photo Credit: Mark Thomas

The u3a story

Founded in 1982, the UK u3a movement (based loosely on the French model) aims to encourage groups of people no longer in full-time work to come together and continue their enjoyment of learning subjects of interest to them.

From the start, the guiding principles were to promote non-formal learning through self-help interest groups covering a wide range of topics and activities as chosen by their members. There is no minimum age, but a focus on people who are no longer in full-time employment or raising a family. Our founders envisaged a collaborative approach with peers learning from each other. The u3a movement was to be self-funded, with members not working towards qualifications but learning purely for pleasure. There would be no distinction between the learners and the teachers – everyone could take a turn at being both if they wished.

The movement grew very quickly and by the early 1990s, a u3a was opening every fortnight. u3as started in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and in 2008 membership was increasing by 11% every year. 2010 saw our membership hitting the quarter million mark. 2022 saw 40th Anniversary of the movement in the UK and was marked with a year-long programme of events and celebrations.

To find out more about how to become a member and to join your local u3a, please visit our Join Us page.

Governance and reporting

The u3a national body – the Third Age Trust - looks after all the u3as in the UK, providing educational and administrative support. The Trust is overseen by a Board of Directors, to which any u3a member may be elected by becoming a Regional Trustee.

To find out more about what we are doing to evolve our governance, go to our Fit for the Future webpage

Each year the Trust holds an Annual General Meeting which is attended by members. Issues affecting the whole movement are discussed and voted on, as well as any Board elections taking place. As part of the Annual General Meeting, the Trust publishes its Annual Report & Accounts. The latest version of the Annual Report and Accounts can be downloaded below, in pdf format.

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