About Us


Our members come from a variety of working backgrounds and their enthusiasm for sharing what interests them enables us to offer an unusually wide range of activities. York u3a was founded in 1989 and has expanded over the years, including moving premises to our current “base” in rooms beneath the Friends’ Meeting House in York. We celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2014 – in some style! We normally have over 110 Interest Groups, monthly Saturday Morning Lectures, and travel groups focusing on both the UK and abroad.

Our Members

The ‘3a’ in our title reflects our ‘third age’, we learn together but there are no entrance qualifications and there are certainly no exams! Our members are all no longer in full time employment. We follow the u3a principles of ‘LEARN, LAUGH, LIVE’, we believe that education is a lifelong process of sharing experiences with others and – no less importantly – learning from them.

How the u3a started

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 (AIUTA). The u3a in the UK started by the creation of the Third Age Trust in 1982 as registered charity. Contrary to what was happening in France, there was no support from 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.

How things have changed

In 2021 the national organisation updated the name from U3A to u3a, with new branding.

What the u3a does

Around the country groups of people organise themselves for the purpose of learning. To quote one of the founders of the movement, Peter Laslett “Those who teach shall also learn and those who learn shall also teach”. Since we learn for the pleasure of it, no qualifications are required and none are given. The subjects tackled vary with each u3a and the number offered will depend on the size and enthusiasm of the group.

Today, across the UK there are over 1000 u3as with a total membership of over 450,000.

The Third Age Trust

The Third Age Trust is the national representative body for the u3as in the UK. It has a full time Administrator/Company Secretary, and a few part time paid employees. Its operations are controlled by a National Executive Committee (NEC) who are elected at the Annual General Meeting. This meeting is combined with the annual Conference at which Third Agers from all over the country come together to debate and plan the organisation’s future The Trust encourages and helps the formation of new u3a groups, organises subject matter networks, e.g. the Languages network, who help to support new Language study groups with advice and teaching materials.

Each u3a contributes a capitation fee; currently £4.00 per member to the Third Age Trust. There are also Sponsors who support us with money or in other ways. The Trust receives no financial support towards the day to day running of the organisation from National or Local Government.

The Third Age Trust is a member of AIUTA which aims to promote active learning, research and community service among Third Agers everywhere.

Yorkshire and Humber Region of u3as

York is within the YAHR local grouping of u3as. There are links to webpages for our local neighbouring u3as on this page.