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The purpose of U3A

A NZ adaptation of the Objects of U3A by Peter Laslett

First:         to educate ourselves about the world we live in.  We find ourselves in a position which allows us to record and share our accumulated knowledge.

Second:      to make those in their later years aware of their intellectual, cultural and aesthetic potential, and of their values to themselves and to their society. 

Third:        to discover amongst retired people, the resources for the development and intensification of their intellectual, cultural and aesthetic lives. 

Fourth:      the educational function of U3A makes no distinction between those who teach and those who learn. As much as possible of U3A activity is voluntary, freely offered by the members of the U3A to other members and to the wider society.

Fifth:          to organise U3A so that learning is pursued, skills acquired, interests are developed for themselves alone with no reference to qualifications, awards, or personal advancement.

Sixth:         to mobilise members of U3A so as to help the very large number of elderly persons in need of educational stimulation but who have no wish to engage in formal university studies.

Seventh:    to undertake research on the process of ageing, and the position of the elderly in New Zealand, and the means of its improvement.

Eighth:       to encourage the establishment of U3A's in every part of the country.


The activities of U3A shall be as wide as resources permit, ranging from mathematics and the natural sciences, by way of philosophy, literature and history, to aesthetic, practical and physical training. 

Studies related to the specific situation of the elderly – social, psychological, physiological – shall be included as a matter of course.  They will be given no particular prominence in teaching but high priority in research.

Strong emphasis will be laid on research in all U3A's activities.  Every member will be encouraged to join in the widespread accumulation of scattered data required for advancement in knowledge of certain kinds [for example, archaeology, natural history, the history of the population and social structure, the history of climate and geological events). 

Every member will be expected, where possible, to have a research project of his or her own, and to write up its results.  Engaging in research, however, shall not count as fulfilling the obligation to teach.

Insistence on learning as an end in itself shall go along with an emphasis on the value of making things and acquiring and improving skills of all kinds.  The curriculum shall therefore include, if there is a demand, and if facilities can be found, such subjects as computer programming, accountancy, business and managerial studies, spoken languages and handicrafts in textiles, metal work, wood work, bookbinding, printing and so on.  Painting, sculpture and music shall be given high priority.

Special importance shall be attached to physical training and suitable supporting activities, and negotiations entered into for these purposes with local institutions providing these facilities.