u3a originated in Toulouse, France in 1973, where it was associated with a local university to educate older people.In 1982 the first u3a in the UK was founded in Cambridge by historian where it evolved to be more of a self-help organisation, with the main underlying principle of co-operative learning. Since then it has gradually expanded to cover the whole of the UK, with nearly 1,000 u3a’s organised into regions. They are all independently managed and self-governed.


The Third Age Trust is the national representative body in the UK for the local u3a such as our own, Burton Joyce & District u3a It is both a limited company and a registered charity. It underpins the work of local u3a’s by providing educational and administrative support to their management committees and to individual members and assists in the development of new u3a’s across the UK. All u3a’s although they act autonomously, are affiliated to and adhere to the aims and guiding principles of this overarching organisation.


u3a’s are are independently managed charitable associations with their own constitutions. Membership of The Third Age Trust is a requirement in order to use the u3a name and logo, both of which are protected, but once registered, local u3a’s are self-governing providing they adhere to the aims and guiding principles of the organisation.

You can Read more about the Third Age Trust by clicking on the link u3a National


In England, the local u3a’s are organised into Regions, one of which is the East Midlands region. Read more.…
Due to its geographical spread, the East Midlands region is sub-divided into five separate County Networks: Derbyshire; Leicestershire & Rutland; Lincolnshire; Northamptonshire; and, Nottinghamshire.

Nottinghamshire Network of u3a’s (the “Notts Network”)

‘The Notts Network’, which was established in 2009, is a federation of over twenty u3a’s which enables cooperation between its Member u3a’s across Nottinghamshire, and also to help the launch of new u3a’s in the County.

Burton Joyce and District u3a is a member of the Notts Network.

The Notts Network allows its member u3a’s to support each other in the promotion of informal learning and the cultural and social development of all Nottinghamshire u3a members. Read More by clicking on the link to the right


There are several other u3a’s adjacent to Burton Joyce & District u3a The ones closest to us are listed below. Members can join more than one u3a through the associate membership scheme.

Carlton & Gedling

u3a is the “University of the Third Age”.

It is not a traditional University as you might expect from its title, but a “university of people”, who come together in friendship to share and pursue “lifelong learning” in their “Third Age”, the period after they have retired from full time work or other responsibilities.

There are u3a’s all over the world but in the UK, the “Third Age” learning process is collaborative, with local people coming together to form a “u3a” where they share their knowledge, skills and experiences. Everyone moves into retirement with a huge fund of knowledge, either from work or other activities in their life, which they can share with others. u3a’s provide a wonderful opportunity for retired people to enrich their lives by learning new skills and developing new interests.

The topics covered by a u3a are set by the members of each u3a themselves. Hence, the nature and range of activities in each u3a will vary as it is up to the individual members to decide and provide. If there are enough members interested in a topic, then a new group is set up. Topics are not restricted to purely academic subjects, but include all sorts of cultural, hobby, leisure and sporting activities.

You do not need any qualifications to become a member of a u3a or to join any group within the u3a All you need is a willingness to share in the experience and take part.

There is no obligation to join any group, you may decide you only want to come to the monthly meetings to listen to the speakers and socialise with new friends. The choice of groups is entirely yours and you could join all of them if you have time and provided there is space.

There are no courses as such except where a group has agreed to follow one. There are no diplomas, certificates or degrees awarded to members. There are no terms or semesters. Most importantly there is no competition and there is no pressure!

What you will be rewarded with is the joy of meeting people and making many new friends whilst acquiring new knowledge and skills, and most importantly, enjoying yourself!