Our short history

U3A is an abbreviation for University of the Third Age, an organisation which aims to provide educational stimulus and support for older people. U3A Tea Tree Gully Inc. Branch was established in 1987. U3A was founded in Toulouse, France in 1972, with academic programmes offered to older people by Universities. The concept was introduced in Britain in 1982 by a group from Cambridge University. British U3As quickly evolved away from courses chosen by Universities, to the idea of self help or mutual-aid universities. Medieval universities were societies of equals formed to share and extend knowledge.

Objectives of U3A

The objectives of the branch are to provide active retirees with the opportunity to maintain independence for an extended time through the stimulus of both mental and physical activity, the satisfaction of making a contribution to society, discovering new interests and extending the old ones, working with others to improve the status, well being and position of older people, sharing the skills, experience and expertise accumulated during their working lives, and also experiencing the joy of learning for learning's sake.

The Third Age is the description of one's life reached after the First Age of childhood and dependence and the Second Age of working life and home-making. The Third Age is sometimes called the Age of Active Retirement. For many, it is the age of achieving one's maximum potential after the stresses of the Second Age are past. U3As think of themselves as being universities in the original sense of the term-communities of people who come together to learn from one another, rather than as degree-granting institutions; and so U3A is a learning co-operative of older people. It encourages positive aging by enabling its members to share many educational, creative and leisure and social activities. Members are willing to share their expertise from their life experiences with others, by offering to lead courses.

Who can join?

Being in your Third Age is the only criterion needed to become a member. No educational qualifications are required. There are no examinations to be taken or certificates to be obtained. You must be over 50, and at least semi-retired, not working more than 20 hours a week.

How does it operate?

By drawing upon the skills and interests of its members. U3As tap the huge resources of skills and experience which exists among Third Age People, and which is largely ignored in the wider community. Among members of a U3A you will always find some people who are willing to share their knowledge with others by acting as course leaders or tutors. These members will be leaders in some classes and learners in others. Other members assist in the administration of U3A.

What are the costs?

All leaders and committee people give their time to their U3As voluntarily. Being a mutual self-help organisation, the costs of running U3A are kept very low. To become a member, you must register for one of our courses, which currently (2017) costs $35.00 if you enroll early; $40 after Christmas, and this entitles you to enrol for any of the courses at no extra charge, unless a specific term fee, because of additional rental costs, is incurred. Being a member also entitles you to a copy of our newsletter, "The Conveyor", issued each term.

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