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U3A began in France

The Université du Troisième Âge was founded in 1972 at Toulouse University. By 1975 the idea had spread to universities across Europe. The original French model required U3As to be associated with the traditional university systems. Troisième Âge (third age) is a French term for the retirement years.


The British Model

U3A reached Cambridge in 1981 and underwent a major change. Rather than rely on university goodwill, they adopted an approach with no distinction between the teachers and the taught. Members were teachers as well as the learners.


U3A in Australia

U3A British-style arrived in Melbourne in 1984. It now provides a wide variety of courses, crafts and social activities for some 65,000 older learners in more than 200 independent campuses in all states of Australia.


U3A in the Clare Valley

In 2004 Watervale resident Christa Sullivan had the original idea. Lower North Health Service were supportive and that is why we adopted the name U3A Lower North. Activities first started in 2005. In our early days TAFE allowed free access to idle classrooms which gave our activities a vital boost. When this ended Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council allowed us free use of an office within the Domain Internet Cafe where we were already regular hirers of the computer room. By 2012 we were offering a total of 28 interest groups spread across 18 different venues. Our Office is now based in the Clare Town Hall.


U3A Lower North are members of U3A South Australia (formerly Alliance of U3As in South Australia) which is a support network for U3As in this State. Check our their website at

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