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 lifelong 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 sees the 40th Anniversary of the movement in the UK and we are celebrating with a year-long programme of events and celebrations.
If you'd like to find out more about u3a and how to become a member, please visit our Join Us page.