University of the Third Age History

Origin in France

U3A was launched in Toulouse, France in 1973, its aim to present a programme of university-based continuing education as well as stimulation for those in the third stage of life. By 1981 it had spread to England where it evolved as a community-based system of independent self-run groups. The concept has been adopted internationally, arriving in New Zealand in 1989. The first local group was launched through the University of Canterbury Department of Continuing Education.

The Third Age Trust

U3A in New Zealand is independent from the The Third Age Trust (UK), but our direct origins are there.

Original Principles of the U3A by Peter Laslett in 1981

Aims and Guiding Principles of U3A. (UK, 2014)

The U3A Story (UK) by Francis Beckett_web.pdf (March, 2014)