U3A stands for University of the Third Age.
The ‘university’ has no campus, no paid staff, no entry qualifications, no exams and no awards; it is a learning co-operative with the central task of organising a range of study and interest groups that are run by members. No qualifications are required and anyone in their ‘third age’ can join.
There is no lower age limit for membership of the U3A. The ‘third age’ refers to the time when we are no longer in full-time employment or have parental responsibilities (the first age being the age of childhood dependence and education, and the second being the time of employment and/or parental responsibility).
Nationally, across all U3As, more than 300 different subjects are offered, and there are over 1,000 local U3As run entirely by volunteers. Local U3As don’t rely on professionals but instead draw upon the experience of their own members, who share their knowledge, skills and understanding.