(The principal purpose of this appendix is to provide a 2011 snapshot of major later-life learning organizations together with contact information for individuals who can provide additional details about their organizations).
University of the Third Age (U3A)
Two Universities of the Third Age Models (Adapted from Swindell and Thompson 1995)
Two distinctly different approaches to Universities of the Third Age have been successfully adopted by many countries. However, there is considerable variation within each of these approaches. The original French model (UTA) involved teaching and learning taking place in traditional university systems. In contrast, the British model, also called the self-help U3A model, which developed some years later, is run entirely by retired volunteers, often in low-cost or highly subsidized community premises, with little or no support from formal education providers. Other approaches, which incorporate some of the features of each of these ‘parent’ models, have evolved over the years to suit local conditions.
The French Model
An appropriate political climate for the evolution of an idea like UTA was established in France in 1968 when legislation was passed requiring universities to provide more community education. In 1973, a highly rated gerontology course, run by Toulouse University of Social Sciences exclusively for local retired people, led to the formation of the first UTA. The UTA was open to anyone over retirement age; no qualifications or examinations were required or offered, and fees were kept to a minimum. By 1975, the idea had spread to other French universities as well as to universities in Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Spain and across the Atlantic to North America, Sherbrooke in Quebec and San Diego in California. (Despite an early introduction of UTA to the USA, the movement has not flourished there. It has been overshadowed by Lifelong Learning Institutes (LLIs) which operate in a very similar way but began a decade earlier than UTA. There is no call within the USA for a replicate later-life adult education approach).
Different UTA approaches began to develop by the late 1970s, even within France, including several which were a direct creation of local government and not connected with a university. The original focus by universities also began to broaden to include other educationally disadvantaged groups. In many places, the programmes were advertised for early retirees, housewives, the unemployed and those with disabilities. Some UTAs were renamed to reflect the changing emphasis, for example, University of Leisure Time, and Inter-Age University.
Courses vary widely in content, style of presentation and format. In general, they exhibit a mixture of open lectures, negotiated access to established university courses, and contracted courses, study groups, workshops, excursions and physical health programmes. Content is mainly in the humanities and arts. Funding also varies considerably. Some UTAs are largely university funded; some are funded by a combination of fees, donations and direct financial subsidy from the local township; and some are mainly member-funded on a sliding scale, depending on participants’ assets.
The British Self-Help Model
UTA underwent a substantial change when it reached Cambridge in 1981, and the name was changed to U3A to reflect this different approach. Rather than relying on university good will, the founders of the British model adopted an approach in which there was to be no distinction between the teachers and the taught (Laslett 1989). Members would be the teachers as well as the learners and, where possible, members should engage in research activities. The ‘self-help’ ideal was based on the knowledge that experts of every kind retire, thus, there should be no need for older learners to have to rely on paid or unpaid Second Age teachers. Laslett provided a substantial rationale for this approach.
The self-help approach has been highly successful in Britain as well as in other countries, as described later in this appendix. Some of the strengths of the approach include: minimal membership fees; accessible classes run in community halls, libraries, private homes, schools and so forth; flexible timetables and negotiable curriculum and teaching styles; a wide course variety ranging from the highly academic to arts, crafts and physical activity; no academic constraints such as entrance requirements or examinations; and the opportunity to mix with alert like-minded people who enjoy doing new things. Each U3A is independent and is run by a democratically elected management committee of members.
(Contributed by Stanley Miller, past-president of IAUTA. www.aiuta.org).
The International Association of UTAs, IAUTA, which dates from 1975, was set up in order to ‘federate, all over the world, Universities of the Third Age and organizations, which have different names but which subscribe to its objectives’. The principal objective is ‘to constitute, with the support of Universities around the world, an international framework of a lifelong educational nature and concerned with research for, by and with the old’.
As a voluntary body, IAUTA relies heavily on the contributions of its members, individuals or Associations of UTA in more than 23 countries. Its major public function is an international congress normally held every 2 years, hosted by a member institution. IAUTA also encourages international cooperation between UTAs. For example, a study of proverbs across a number of European countries involved partners in several of those countries and culminated in two publications.
IAUTA provides a point of contact for individual UTA or UTA associations to create exchanges with fellow UTAs in other countries. Recent inquiries are leading to links between U3A in the UK and ‘partner’ organizations in the USA, Japan and Switzerland. The encouragement and support of U3A in different countries, both those with well-established programmes or those where the development is just beginning, is another role undertaken by IAUTA. Recently, U3A in Poland, Japan and India have all sought the help of IAUTA.
Australia and New Zealand
(Contributed by Rick Swindell, co-founder U3A Online www.u3aonline.org.au firstname.lastname@example.org).
The self-help U3A movement began in Australia in 1984 and in New Zealand in 1989. The movement spread rapidly through both countries as a ‘grassroots’ movement which was driven by retired community enthusiasts receiving little or no assistance from governments, NGOs or paid adult educators. By 2011 there were 240 independent U3As in Australia (69,000 members) and 65 in NZ (11,000 members). Each U3A is independent although U3A networks in the Australian States of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland and in the NZ cities of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington have considerably assisted U3A growth and development in their various regions. Since 1998, U3A Online, the world first virtual U3A, has acted as an informal network and resource centre for U3As in both countries and assisted U3A developments by providing online teaching materials and free online services which assist each U3A to better meet its educational and social objectives. In 2008, U3A Online, with three other partners, won an Australian Government $15-million bid to provide 2000 Broadband for Seniors Internet kiosks throughout Australia. This move is expected to assist with the growth and recognition of the wider U3A movement around Australia.
A U3A Australian Alliance was started several years ago, but progress has been slow. Regardless, cooperation between the various groups continues to grow, particularly through the Internet. In 2008, U3A Online funded a large scale study into the characteristics and aspirations of U3As in both countries, and the financial value of U3A volunteerism. The study was carried out by a group of eight retired U3A researchers from both countries (Swindell et al. 2009).
(Translated and adapted 2011 by Mr Yen Wenhui, from a speech given by Mr Yuan Xinli, President, China Association of Universities for the Aged, November 2010 AIUTA Congress).
The concept of filial piety, attributable to the great philosophy of Confucius, accounts for the respect Chinese society holds for their ageing population of 167 million people. Older people are revered for their past contributions to society as well as for their skills, wisdom and experience, which will continue to benefit the family and wider society.
The Chinese focus on lifelong learning gained strength in the 1980s, following the Cultural Revolution. Currently China has more than 40,000 U3As and more than 4.3 million older students. Government demonstrates its belief in, and commitment to the important area of elderly education, by financing most U3As.
Over the past three decades, U3A activities have evolved considerably. The first group of U3As was established mainly with an emphasis on social activities such as dancing, singing and socializing for retired officials. Now the ideas are extended much more widely into the local community with efforts made to recruit and assist older people by offering practical courses such as computer skills, English language and disease diagnosis and prevention. However, U3As are not solely places for older people to learn skills and knowledge; they also serve as important platforms for older people to contribute their expertise to wider society and to directly help others. For example, U3A members might write books, paint pictures or teach a wide range of skills. Their expertise can also extend beyond the U3A campus. For example, some members are doing voluntary work in their local communities. Others may be caring for children, passing on new knowledge or settling disputes. Still others with specific skills and knowledge are going to rural areas to disseminate their expertise in agriculture. Their contributions are widely accepted and welcomed by the communities.
In China there are three major ways to effectively utilize the experience and knowledge of the elderly people.
Establishing more U3As, recruiting more students and increasing the range of subjects and interests available through the U3A curriculum. The U3A network now is spreading from the cities to the rural areas, from the central government organs to the grass-root levels.
Setting up data bases for the rapid identification of older people’s skills. Currently, all big cities in China have established some kind of elderly human resource database containing comprehensive details of older people’s skills and experience. When an appropriate opportunity is identified, the centres recommend the employment of capable older people to positions in which they can continue to contribute to the society economically.
Maintaining a favourable social environment for older people. Mass media, the Internet and the public work together to continue to build positive images of older people and their capabilities, as well as encouraging older people themselves to take steps to fully participate in the social and economic life of their communities.
(Maureen Tam http://email@example.com provides a comprehensive overview of Later-Life Learning and the Hong Kong Elder Academies in her chapter in this book entitled Active Ageing, Active Learning: Elder Learning in Hong Kong).
(Contributed by Dr. Sajjan Singh, Executive Chairperson Indian Society of U3As. firstname.lastname@example.org).
The first U3A was formed in 2007 in Rewa, India, but the concept was in vogue in ancient India. The ethos towards old age has always been a positive one. Thus the U3A concept was easily acceptable since it involves learning and teaching. To this, service was added.
The movement gathered momentum with the formation in 2008 of the Indian Society of U3As (ISU3As) which is a networking conglomerate of bodies and intellectuals working for the welfare of the elders. By 2011 there were more than 700 individual and 30 institutional members spread all over India The first landmark achievement was the successful ‘World U3A Conference on Life Long Learning and Ageing With Dignity’ held in 2010.
The programmes pursued by the U3As range from the 4 day reorientation programme on ‘Art of Graceful Ageing’ and computer training, to the various service-oriented programmes for the welfare of elders in urban and rural sectors. On line learning is not widely used but the members are well networked through ‘U3A Patrika’, a monthly on line newsletter, which links the U3As and highlights their various activities as well as providing news from the wider world of U3As. The urban U3As have reached out to the rural population through their teaching and service programmes but rural U3As are yet to take off. However a beginning has been made, with the infrastructure in the villages gearing up for mobile phone and internet connectivity.
Exchange visits of U3A members to countries e.g. Nepal and Mauritius have taken place. This is being encouraged Thus learners become teachers and teachers become learners with the principal objective of safeguarding the elders’ interests and serving the society.
(Contributed by Akiko Tsukatani MBE, Director-General, NPO Age Concern Japan, email@example.com).
Japan is an ultra ageing society and the cost of social and medical care for older people is already a major issue affecting all members of Japanese society. It is understood that older people can and will actively continue to contribute much to society and the economy by keeping themselves both physically and mentally healthy. Through life long learning organizations they share their accumulated knowledge, skills and experiences and help each other by creating new learning communities and new social infrastructure.
During the last 30–40 years, life long education in Japan has been provided by: private companies running culture schools; U3A style gatherings run by private groups of citizens and NPOs; Senior Colleges run by local government agencies; open university type education by universities; and on line education by Nihon Hoso Kyokai (Japan Broadcasting Association).
Most of these organizations involve professional teaching and they often have rigid regulations and limited terms for learning, say 6 months to 3 years at most. U3A style education following the self-help model is a notable exception. The first Japanese U3A for older people began in Shizuoka City in 1985 under the name of ‘Kiyomigata Daigakujyuku’. The members are the teachers as well as the learners, since they have considerable expertise, skills and experiences accumulated through their earlier lives. It is thought that there are now about 100 such life long learning organizations having the same concept, all with different names.
In April, 2009, NPO Age Concern Japan established the Japan U3A Federation. It registered the Japanese U3A logo, and in the same year opened U3A Osaka, which is the first self-help type directly operated by Age Concern Japan. Recently, a Tokyo lifelong learning group called ‘Tokyo U3A Heart-no-kai’ joined the Federation and Settsu U3A is expected to open in 2012 in Settsu City.
The Japanese style U3As, which Age Concern Japan have been sponsoring, aim to contribute to the formation of new, sustainable and activated communities through the following three approaches:
A wide range of classes, not only university type lectures, but also cultural classes, outgoing classes, exercises, etc run by retired experts plus occasional seminars given by professional people handling specialized topics and issues
Widening the range of learning/teaching opportunities through networking among U3As in Japan and abroad
Community businesses and action groups will be started to act on new understanding gained through U3A classes to discuss and solve the needs and problems that local communities are faced with.
Although the brand name ‘U3A’ is still quite new to Japan, the self help, action oriented approach is expected to spread throughout Japan in years to come.
(Contributed by Jeevan Raj Lohani, Coordinator, Council of U3As in Nepal http://www.u3anepal.org/ firstname.lastname@example.org).
U3A in Nepal started in 2006 and has since been a regular participant in international U3A events. For example it is represented on the U3A Asia Pacific Alliance, and U3A members take part in international and regional level sharing learning programmes. The ‘Council of U3As in Nepal’, which is a core committee representing all U3As in Nepal, was formed in 2006 and registered as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in 2008. Activities within the Nepal U3A movement include (1) organization of discussion programmes, (2) supporting education related workshops, (3) forming new groups and (4) providing technical assistance to support university activities. The Council of U3As in Nepal believes key areas for Nepal and similar countries to consider are (1) financing U3As (2) adaptation of U3As in the culture of developing countries and (3) cooperation and coordination with other U3As throughout the world. Despite intense interest in modernizing and expanding U3As, the resource constraints among U3A members have limited the expansion process. In this context, the Council is seeking to promote virtual U3As among computer-literate urban populations, and sharing learning programmes among rural U3As.
(Information on LLIs provided by Nancy Merz-Nordstrom, Director: Elderhostel Institute Network (EIN). Information on OLLIs provided by Kali Lightfoot, Executive Director, National Resource Center (http://www.osher.net)).
Lifelong Learning Institutes (LLIs)
(Note: The LLI movement started in 1962, about a decade before the UTA movement in France. However, because U3A is a known ‘brand name’ in many countries the North American approaches are discussed under the U3A heading).
Imagine a school without grades or tests, a place where the only prerequisites are an active mind and a desire to learn in a congenial atmosphere. Fill the classrooms with dedicated students of retirement age, forming a community of learners who design their own college-level curriculum according to their own needs and interests, and people whose common bonds are intellectual curiosity and the experience of their generation. They share opinions, knowledge and expertise with humour, creativity and mutual respect. When classes are over, the lively discussions don’t end. The talk spills out to the hallways, the cafeteria or the student lounge. Younger students passing through are impressed by the vitality of this enthusiastic bunch. Learning through the LLI movement in North America is fun and appealing to rapidly growing numbers of older learners.
The first LLIs trace their roots back to 1962 when the Institute for Retired Professionals was started in New York City under the sponsorship of the New School for Social Research. During the next 26 years, until the formation of the Elderhostel Institute Network in 1988, the idea spread relatively slowly, primarily by word of mouth with little media attention. By 1988 there were about 50 separate LLI groups. In 2011, there were almost 400 programmes, the majority affiliated with higher education institutions but also programmes connected with active retirement communities, senior centres, community organizations and even some ‘stand-alone’ programmes with no affiliation whatsoever. Keeping older adults active, involved and contributing to society in mind, body and spirit are the major goals.
LLIs are known by many names, with each being a unique organization reflecting the needs and goals of its sponsoring campus and participants from the local community. Several years ago many of the current LLIs changed their name from Institutes for Learning in Retirement because market surveys showed that young North American retirees do not want to join organizations labelled as being for retirees.
In 1975 the Elderhostel organization was formed to provide short, university-based adult education courses for older adults. The concept involved inviting older adults from anywhere in the USA to live as students on a university campus for about a week during student vacations, to take intensive mini-courses, usually taught by paid members of the faculty. Elderhostel is a not-for-profit organization. However costs must be covered and course participants are required to pay for travel, accommodation, teaching fees and other expenses associated with their week of study at a distant campus. The fees would deter many would-be older learners with limited resources. Despite this, the programmes are very popular with older adults and Elderhostel is now the world’s largest, educational travel organization.
In 1988, 24 LLIs collaborated with Elderhostel to form the Elderhostel Institute Network (EIN), with a mission to strengthen and support the effectiveness of both programmes and spread the LLI concept to new communities. The EIN has been effective at promoting the rapid growth of LLIs in both the USA and Canada.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLIs)
The Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by a prominent California businessman seeking to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. In 2001, the Foundation began to support university-based programmes targeted toward more mature students through grants to both startup and existing lifelong learning institutes. OLLIs operate in a way similar to the LLIs outlined above, and many OLLIs started as LLIs before receiving Osher funding. In 2011, there were 118 OLLIs operating in all 50 USA States. Like the LLIs there is considerable variation among the OLLIs (the Osher Foundation is non-prescriptive and interested in supporting a wide array of programme models) but the common threads remain: Non-credit educational programmes specifically developed for adults who are aged 50 and older; university connection and university support; robust volunteer leadership and sound organizational structure; and a diverse repertoire of intellectually stimulating courses. In 2004, the Osher Foundation endowed the National Resource Center (NRC) for OLLIs at the University of Southern Maine. The NRC organizes national conferences for the network of OLLIs, and provides a communication hub and repository of promising practices by and for staff and volunteer leaders of the OLLIs, LLIs and other learning organizations. The NRC website: http://www.osher.net will give the reader a taste of the variety of classes, special events and projects being offered at the OLLIs, as well as resources available to anyone interested in creating an educational programme aimed at older adults.
Republic of South Africa
(Contributed by Kathrine Fenton-May, Durban U3A, email@example.com).
The first U3A (self-help model) started in 2000 in Cape Town. By 2011, 25 independent groups with a combined total of about 8,000 members were providing a diverse range of courses in five of the nine provinces. There are 11 official languages in the republic of South Africa. However, the U3A groups are mainly English speaking and have not yet started in regions where English is not widely spoken. A number of U3As have some members from the other indigenous cultures. In the Western Cape area, five of the groups get together at a Forum which increases communications and exchange of ideas.
(Contributed by Thomas Kuan, past-president of the Singapore Association for Continuing Education (www.sace.org.sg); chair, University of the Third Age Asia Pacific Alliance. firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Singapore Association for Continuing Education (SACE) plays an overarching role in the development of continuing education in Singapore. In 2006, in line with one of its objectives ‘to encourage interest in and support for the development of continuing education’ the first Singapore U3A was formed. SACE-U3A activities are organized on the British model where members volunteer their time and share their expertise with other members and their friends. SACE’s most recent major regional leadership activities include membership of the University of the Third Age Asia Pacific Alliance, and organization of the 2011 International U3A Conference in Singapore.
(Contributed by Ian Searle, Chairman of the Third Age Trust. www.u3a.org.uk).
The British model of U3A was started in 1982 when the first local groups were set up. In the absence of support from Universities or Adult Education authorities, members themselves ran interest groups and meetings, often in each others’ homes. The Third Age Trust and National Office were set up to support new groups and to circulate a news sheet. At the beginning of 2011, there were 782 local U3As with very nearly 250,000 members. Each U3A is operationally independent but has corporate membership of the Third Age Trust. With the Trust’s support Subject Networks were set up to link and encourage new groups in such subjects as Languages, Music and Science. The 34 Coordinators offer support and some also organize newsletters, Study Days and sometimes residential courses. The quarterly magazine, ‘U3A News’ is now posted directly to most members’ homes and it is accompanied by the educational journal ‘Sources’, written by members.
In the past 2 years, there has been increased emphasis on the development of regional committees to encourage and assist development. The Trust is administered by 12 Regional Trustees, one elected from each of the English Regions and one each from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are a further four elected Officers. Joint U3A activities and get-togethers for special occasions are increasing. Opportunities for members to meet and share ideas flourish at the biannual Conference and the AGM, arranged by the Trust each September, as well as at the popular residential Summer Schools.
For some years now the Third Age Trust has joined U3A Online to supply online courses from both organizations to both the UK and elsewhere. A UK Virtual U3A with its own interest groups has recently started and is now a member of the Trust.
Memoranda of Understanding have been agreed with the Open University and with the Workers Educational Association. Guest speakers from both organizations contribute to various meetings and it is hoped to make increasing use of the Open Learn material from the OU. Furthermore annual events are organized with the Royal Institution and with DANA at which eminent researchers into Science and Neuroscience speak to U3A members. An annual Science Conference is arranged in Abergavenny, Wales.
There has been notable progress in recent years in the UK in obtaining public recognition for the work of U3As. In 2008, the Third Age Trust was invited to participate in a government-sponsored series of discussions on the subject of non-formal adult education. That led to the publication of ‘Time to Learn’, an exposition of the U3A methodology. In partnership with the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education, the same information was used to produce a new website www.selforganisedlearning.org.uk. Close liaison with many other organizations has followed and the Trust’s views are now often solicited on matters to do with older people’s learning. A Research Committee is currently seeking closer links with a wide range of UK universities to work in partnership. The employment of a professional educational journalist has greatly enhanced the public awareness of the U3A movement and its achievements, and press releases are issued frequently. The national website, www.u3a.org.uk, provides much more information and is heavily used by both U3A members and interested visitors. The Trust has also sponsored the production of a great deal of information and publicity material, and a professionally made DVD is shortly to be released. A short history of the U3A movement in the UK was also commissioned in 2010.
On the international scene, the Trust is represented on IAUTA. From 2007 to 2011, the IAUTA President was a former Vice Chairman of the Third Age Trust. Another Vice Chairman was invited as a guest speaker to a conference of Hong Kong U3As in 2007, and the Trust sent a representative to the conference in Chikrakoot in 2010, and to Singapore in 2011.
U3A in Brief in Some Other Countries
(Contributed by Stanley Miller, past-president of the International Association of Universities of the Third Age. www.aiuta.org).
Belgium – French speaking Belgium was one of the earliest in the development of UTAs beyond France. It has two very active UTAs in Louvain-la-Neuve (not Louvain/Leuven) and Namur. The former, with its various branches in Brussels and in other parts of that region has around 5–6,000 members. The Namur UTA has been involved in a great deal of cooperative work with U3As in other countries, as well as in some interesting community and intergenerational work.
Canada – Different later-life learning programmes operate in francophone and anglophone Canada. In the former, Sherbrooke, Quebec and Montreal are important centres of U3A activity. In the latter, U3As as such do not exist; instead U3A style learning and teaching activities are run under different names (e.g. LLIs, OLLIs). There is a federation/network (CATALIST) but, so far, they have shown little international activity.
Czech Republic – There is a federation comprising some 35 U3As.
France – In addition to the following list of U3As, there is a federation UFUTA (The French Union of U3As with about 42 members). Toulouse, Vannes, Versailles, Lyon, Creteil, Limoges, Paris 6, Rheims, Orleans, Lille, Melun, Evry, Lannion plus two in overseas ‘departments’ –Martinique and Noumea. There is also the world-wide francophone welfare association, FIAPA, which brings together national associations, of which IAUTA is part.
Finland – Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Helsinki.
Germany – The U3A title is not used in Germany although there are a number of organizations operating in a similar vein within an overall organization concerned for the welfare of older people (BAGSO). (This situation also applies in other European contexts e.g. Spain with FATEC which is a Catalan Federation). The University of Ulm Centre for Academic Research (ZAWIW) is an internationally renowned centre in the field of e-learning for seniors.
Greece – An organization in Athens called 50 plus embraces the U3A concept.
Italy – At least two large federations of U3As: UNITRE is based in Turin and FEDERUNI, which is largely based on universities with an interest in lifelong learning. More than 100 U3As belong to UNITRE.
Luxemburg – At least one at Ettelbruch.
Malta – based in Valetta and the university is much involved in gerontological studies.
Netherlands – Gronigen and Nijmegen, both now represented on the IAUTA Governing Board.
Norway – PUNR (Pensjonistuniversitetet Dedre Romerike) which is an independent U3A organization established in 1993 for the geographical area of Nedre Romerike, north of Oslo. In 2006, there were about 500 members.
Poland – Two U3As in Warsaw, one of which, MUTW, does considerable supportive work on behalf of Polish-speaking U3As in Moldavia, Belarus and the Ukraine. There is also a long-standing U3A at the University of Lublin.
Portugal – The total number of U3As in 2011 may be close to 100. There is a U3A federation called RUTIS.
Slovakia – The Comenius University of Bratislava has an active centre for U3A work. This U3A is also part of a partnership based on the river Danube and the countries through which it flows.
Spain – U3As operate in Seville, Alicante, Santiago de Compestella, Madrid, Seville, Grenada, Santander, La Coruna, Barcelona (Catalan) as well as expatriate U3As for British and French living in retirement in Spain. There are also federations APFA/AFOPA and UNATE, which, in the latter case, is again a general welfare organization but with a learning strand.
Sweden – U3As in Gotenberg and Uppsala.
Switzerland – U3As in Lucerne, Basle, Berne, Giubiasco, Lausanne, Neuchatel, Zurich and Geneva, the latter a particularly internationally oriented U3A.
Latin America – U3As are found in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica. These are largely individual U3As based on universities.