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University of the Third Age was founded in France in 1972 and spread rapidly across the world.  An International Association of U3As was established in 1976.  The first U3A in Australia began in Melbourne in 1984.  Since then the movement has grown to hundreds of  independent U3As across all states and territories.

University of the Third Age describes the third stage of life when people over the age of 50 years may come together to share an interest in lifelong learning.  Many participants are in active retirement. Members are drawn from all walks of life and enjoy staying mentally alert through being actively engaged in learning. U3A is a self-help community based on members sharing their knowledge and experience in the joy of learning and friendship.  There are no qualifications needed and none are awarded.