Neil Harris, BelSoc Treasurer, writes:
In October I looked in on a well-attended University of the Third Age (U3A) London Open Day, which took place at their base in the handsome Grade II – listed old Town Hall on Haverstock Hill, where it occupies rooms over two floors. Over 20 classes took place over the day, showing a typical variety of classes on offer, including Computer, I-pad and I-phone Tips, The Elderly and the Law, Politics and Current Affairs, Medicine Today, Films, Theatre History, Voice Matters and Beautiful Belly Dancing (I was sorry to have missed that one). These only scratch the surface of what is available.
U3A, which has charitable status, consists of groups of men and women, no longer in full-time employment, who enjoy meeting together to study a wide range of subjects, such as those listed above – there are currently over 150 study groups which are run by members. All are volunteers: no-one in the U3A is paid in any capacity. U3A in London is one of over 1,000 U3As throughout Britain and all are autonomous. U3A in London is the largest of these.
U3A is not a university in the modern sense of a body that awards degrees, but in the original sense of a community of people engaged in learning – and learning from each other. It offers no examinations, certificates or degrees: study is for the pleasure of learning. The leaders of its groups are called co-ordinators rather than teachers or lecturers, since learning is seen as a co-operative process.
Once you have paid the annual fee (reduced to £40 this year to mark U3A London’s 40th anniversary) there are no other charges (except for some optional special events). You can attend any group you wish without further payment. U3A does not enrol people specially for classes and suggests that once you have joined you come along on the day the class you have chosen takes place. The only limitation is that groups may become full, in which case you may put your name on a waiting list.
For a full range of classes available and dates please ring 020 7692 5540, email firstname.lastname@example.org or consult the website www.u3alondon.org.uk.