Leeds U3A The University of the Third Age

The canal gardens, Roundhay

About the U3A

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the U3A.

What is the U3A?

U3A stands for the University of the Third Age, the Third Age being the period following our working lives, and University denotes an environment where we continue our education.

The University of the Third Age is a self-help organisation for people no longer in full time employment providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment. It consists of local U3As all over the UK, which are charities in their own right and are run entirely by volunteers. Local U3As are learning cooperatives which draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to organise and provide interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership. "The teachers learn and the learners teach." Between them U3As offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects in such fields as art, languages, music, history, life sciences, philosophy, computing, crafts, photography and walking.

The U3A approach to learning is "learning for pleasure". There is no accreditation or validation and there are no assessments or qualifications to be gained.

Where and when did the U3A start?

The seeds for 'Lifelong Learning for older people' were sown at the Summer School of the Université du Troisième Age held in Toulouse in 1972. This led within a year to the formation of the 'International Association of U3As'.

The U3A in the UK started by the creation of the 'Third Age Trust' in 1982. Contrary to what was happening in France, there was no direct involvement with local universities. It was realised that Third Agers themselves had the skills to organise and teach in their own autonomous learning groups and local U3As were formed.

What is the Third Age Trust?

The Third Age Trust is the national representative body for U3As in the UK. It is both a limited company and a registered charity. It underpins the work of local U3As by providing educational and administrative support to their management committees and to individual members and assists in the development of new U3As across the UK. It is managed by a National Executive Committee which consists of a Chairman, four other Officers and 13 representatives from designated areas in the UK. The Third Age Trust is funded mainly by annual subscriptions paid by member U3As on a per capita basis, with the occasional grant for specific projects. It has three full time and five part time staff and is located in Bromley.

How are local U3As connected to the Third Age Trust?

U3As are independently managed charitable associations with their own constitutions. Membership of The Third Age Trust is a requirement in order to use the U3A name and logo, both of which are protected. But once registered, local U3As are self-governing, provided that the aims and guiding principles of the organisation are adhered to.

At present (end of 2016) there are more than 1000 U3As in the UK, with a total membership of nearly 400,000.

What does the Leeds U3A group do?

Leeds U3A was founded in 1985 and currently has about 500 members. There are about 40 interest groups, mostly meeting weekly, fortnightly or monthly. These are listed on the Groups page. We also have fortnightly general meetings during term time, usually featuring a visiting speaker. The current term's meetings are listed on the Programme page.

Our Annual Report contains a detailed account of our activities during the previous year.

How can I join Leeds U3A?

We warmly welcome new members. Visitors are very welcome to come to one or two general meetings, but after that they are expected to join. The membership fee for 2017 is a modest £12, and there is usually a small attendance fee to cover costs of hiring meeting places. If you wish to join you can use the application form on the Membership page, or if you want to make further enquiries you can get in touch with us via the Contact page.