The United Kingdom

The self-help Universities of the Third Age or U3As came to Great Britain in 1981.

Today there are more than 600 local U3As with over 170,000 members.

Over the last 15 or so years, the links between local U3As has been strengthened through what they call National Subject Networks.

These Networks link members with common interests, and arrange seminars and workshops.

There are dozens of Subject Networks covering topics ranging from Languages, Penfriends, Walking, Art and Music Creative Writing, Science and Technology, the Travel Club, etc.

You name it, there’s probably a Subject Network for it.

Leaders and organizers of U3As are not paid, but overhead is covered by a small annual membership fee.

From that fee, they pay what they call a “capitation fee” or dues to the National Office – just like the membership fee your programs used to pay EIN.

With that money the national office publishes a newspaper, “Third Age News,” which comes out three times a year and is free to all members.

They also offer other types of services to the programs like a huge lending library of courses and a curriculum booklet called “Sources,” that comes out several times a year.

National Executive members are elected at an annual conference lasting 3-5 days, and that conference is organized by members working with the National Office.

New U3A groups are often held in members’ homes when other accommodation are hard to find or too expensive.

Complete freedom allows each group to find an approach that best suits their needs.

These groups provide a friendly and informal environment for learning in all kinds of subjects.

History and languages are two of the most popular subjects.




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