The University of the Third Age

The University of the Third Age

Don’t forget we are a self-help voluntary organisation!

The first University of the Third Age was founded in Toulouse, France in 1972 as a summer school catering exclusively for retired people. The movement grew as an academic organisation associated with French universities. When the idea moved across to the United Kingdom ten years later, it established itself as a self-help organisation. The U3A is now worldwide.

The term University is used in its original sense of the word – a collective of people devoted to learning, with members rather than students, all of whom are in their Third Age, where the first age refers to childhood dependence and the second age to those in
full-time employment or with parental responsibilities.

There is no lower age limit for membership, the main criteria being that members are retired or are in part time work. One in four of the UK population is in the Third Age. Currently there are more than 1000 U3As throughout the United Kingdom with membership circa 400,000.

U3A Principles

The Third Age Trust

We are affiliated to the Third Age Trust, which is the National Representative body of the U3A movement, and provides a wide range of support services. Every U3A member can choose to receive a copy of their house magazine, Third Age Matters, five times a year, which is included in the annual subscription paid.  This is posted to your home address directly from the Third Age Trust.

The Buckingham & District U3A

The Buckingham & District U3A was formed in February 1998. Annually we have over 700 members and are growing fast.

We are a Charity and our Committee members are all Trustees who all give their time on a purely voluntary basis. Our charitable aims are to advance the education of older people no longer in full time gainful employment living in Buckingham and its surrounding locality and the provision of facilities for leisure time and recreational activities with the object of improving the conditions of life for the above persons in the interests of their social welfare.  We are registered with the Charity Commission and our Constitution can be viewed here.

As a democratic, self-funding organisation, we draw on the knowledge, experience and skills of all our members to organise interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership and to provide a positive and creative approach to life after full-time work.   Our Group co-ordinators are all volunteers who work with other members to develop their interest groups and activities. The various activities on offer take place during the daytime.

Please Note we do not use street collections for cash.


Membership is open to individuals who are in their Third Age and are interested in participating in and furthering the work of The U3A, provided that they agree to abide by our Constitution and any membership conditions properly imposed by the Executive Committee and to pay their annual subscription by the due date.

Our financial year runs from October until September the following year. Our annual membership subscription is £15 (which includes an affiliation fee to The Third Age Trust). See the membership page for more details.

Open Meetings

We hold open meetings at 14.30 usually on the fourth Wednesday of the month in January, February, March, April, May, June, September and October in the Buckingham Community Centre, Cornwall’s Meadow in Buckingham when we have a professional speaker. At these meetings, there is an opportunity for members to investigate the wide variety of outings, visits and study groups on offer.

N.B. The July and December meetings usually take the form of socials with in-house entertainment and our Annual General Meeting takes place at the November meeting.

Buckingham U3A Activity Groups

A major feature of The Buckingham & District U3A is the large number of study and interest groups on offer. Many of these are free of charge although, where a rented venue is used, a small contribution towards the cost may be requested. Most groups meet once or twice a month, either in their own homes or at a public venue. There is no limit to the number of groups that a member may join, once they have paid their Annual subscription fee.

Each activity has a Group Co-ordinator who arranges the programme. There is something for everyone and if a member cannot find something of interest, we encourage them to start New Groups using their own special knowledge and skills. Our Group Liaison Officer is on hand to offer support. Groups are primarily self-help rather than tutor-led, no formal qualifications are necessary, and likewise no qualifications are awarded.

We pride ourselves on being a friendly organisation. Every new joiner, whether they be recently retired or a new arrival to the town, is invited to attend our coffee mornings which are held three or four times a year, when we welcome them and outline the various activities on offer. Activities are listed under the Groups heading.


Currently we do not have an Outings organiser – if you can help please do get in touch. Details on how to contact are on the page for Outings & Visits.
Theatre Visits likewise needs a new organiser: see Theatre Visits.

U3A Newsletter

We publish a newsletter twice a year, normally in Autumn and Spring. Members are encouraged to receive this by email in a PDF format, wherever possible, as this reduces our postal charges. However, every member has the right to receive a printed version on request.


Buckingham & District U3A is an independent Charitable association - Charity Reg. 1177534 - and a member of The Third Age Trust.
© Buckingham & District U3A 2024


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