The first British University of the Third Age (U3A) was established in Cambridge in 1982; Swindon U3A was launched in 1987. The U3A is a self-help, participative organisation with the purpose of providing leisure and learning opportunities. Anyone may join but activities are usually on weekdays in the mornings or afternoons and are organised by the members for the members using their knowledge and skills. A U3A is run on a voluntary basis by its members.
In round figures in 2015 there were about 970 U3As in Britain with 350,000 members. There are also U3A organisations in other countries. For more information on the British U3A movement click on the U3A Trust option under the Other links item in the menu bar above.
The existence of a U3A in any particular area will depend on individuals having got together to form one. The activities provided will depend on the interests and number of members. The U3A Trust is an unmbrella organisation that provides help and advice to new and existing U3As and access to common services such as insurance, copyright provision and PPL licences for the use music. A local U3A is autonomous in organising its activities.
Despite the title, most U3As have no formal links with Universities. The word University is used in its original sense of a group of people coming together to learn for pleasure. We learn by continuing to pratice an activity, or trying a new one, with others and sharing our knowledge.Swindon U3A has grown considerably since its inception and is now one of the larger U3As. This means it can offer opportunities for members to maintain and enhance existing skills or develop new skills in a wide range of activities - academic, sports, crafts, arts, to name but a few - without the pressure of exams, deadlines or competitions. Swindon U3A is fortunate in having an office to organise its activities. In our third age we are free to enjoy learning and to have fun doing it. The only qualification you need is an interest in the activities in which you wish to participate.