History of U3A Concept

Université du troisième âge, was founded in Toulouse in France in 1979 where universities began to provide educational opportunities for older adults.

The experiment met with almost immediate success and soon spread to other European countries.  By 1981 it was transported to Britain but there it was adopted by a group of Cambridge enthusiasts, so that instead of being dependent on universities, as was the French model, it became a movement based on self-help and mutual aid, a kind of 'intellectual democracy'.  This became known as the Cambridge or "British" model.

Both concepts share the same aim - that of encouraging older people to remain active in their retirement to continue lifelong learning.

Everyone is encouraged to contribute voluntarily to the running of their U3A in some way.

The first U3A in Australia was established in Melbourne in 1984 and there are now hundreds of Australian U3A organisations, with thousands of members.  There are many groups in South Australia also with thousands of members.


In March 2009, under the initiative of the City of Charles Sturt and their Community Projects Officer, 5 people gathered to investigate creating a University of the Third Age in the area.

Our very first class commenced on 11th August in that year with 22 members and the Henley and Grange Historical Society presiding.  The initial steering group continued to work on a code of conduct, and a constitution, working towards incorporating our group.

We were meeting very happily in the Henley Library Community Learning room on Tuesdays at 1.30 to 3.00pm during school terms, through the generosity of the City of Charles Sturt.

Our membership grew to 82 members, we outgrew the room and a move became necessary.  On 13th October 2015 we met at our new venue in the Uniting Church Hall, Madeline Crescent, Fulham Gardens.

We focus on learning and information for the over 50's with topics on Science, Geography, History, Music, Literature, Health, Politics, Psychology, Law etc. with no tests or exams, just further information and knowledge.  We have additional groups which meet once a month.  See section on Interest Groups.

We also have an outing each term, with a Birthday luncheon at a local hotel and also a Christmas BYO luncheon.  At the end of each term we have coffee and camaraderie and are very social.

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