Who we are and what we do

University of the Third Age in Cambridge (U3AC), an independent Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), organises educational, social and fitness activities for people who are not or no longer in full-time employment (there are no age restrictions). Set up in 1982, we are self-financing and run by our members.

Welcome from the Chairman

U3AC is one of the largest and certainly the oldest ‘university of the third age’ in the country. We offer over 300 room based courses and physical activities, such as walking groups, to our members.

Our year follows the academic cycle, with three terms of ten weeks each, starting in October. Most members join at the start of the year (Aug-Sept), but new members are welcome at any time.

At U3AC you’ll find people who share your interests and enthusiasms, who want to keep mentally and physically active, who like a bit of structure in their week. We know it’s all good for us, but we do it because it’s enjoyable. Once you’re a member you may decide to run a course or activity yourself. Alternatively, you could volunteer to help with the administration that keeps the organisation running smoothly.

During 2021 the organisation is somewhat in transition, as we adapt to the new ways of learning that the Covid pandemic has necessitated. The core of what we do is unchanged, but it will be delivered in more diverse ways. Rather than offering only face-to-face or video-conference (Zoom) classes, we will be offering classes in which some members are in the room and others are attending remotely (the “hybrid” model)

As a charity we are run by our elected Board of Trustees (‘the Council’). Day-to-day organisation is managed by our three, tireless staff members from offices in central Cambridge. While they are generally your first point of contact, I am always happy to hear from members.

Tim Ewbank

Tim Ewbank, U3AC Chairman

Our Programme of Courses

Each year U3AC members have over 330 courses and activities to choose from. You could:

  • learn about something new – courses have included building a free website, military history, James Joyce’s Ulysses, astronomy, climate change
  • study a new language or improve your language skills
  • pursue an existing interest – listening to jazz, drawing for pleasure
  • enjoy a sociable activity – bridge, Scrabble, a book group
  • improve your fitness – yoga, dance
  • or simply enjoy the open air while walking or bird watching.

Courses may run across one, two or all three terms.

Download our Programme of Courses and course vacancy list

Social events

Trips and visits

Our Cultural and Social Activities Committee organises trips and visits for members to theatres, museums and places of interest at reasonable cost throughout the year. These are advertised in the Newsletter and/or the weekly Bulletin and on this website.

Application forms can be downloaded from this website when you are logged in, or picked up from the U3AC Reception area or at the Wednesday Lectures.

U3AC organises regular events at which members meet and mingle, including:

  • New Year’s drinks party (January)
  • Meeting for new members (September)
  • Christmas lunch (December)

These events are all announced in the weekly Bulletin and on this website.

Read our latest Bulletin

 

Our Lectures and Conference

U3AC organises two regular lecture series which are open to all members:

The Ron Gray Annual Conference, usually held on a Saturday in January, always has a topical theme as its subject. It is led by speakers who are experts in their fields and concludes with questions and contributions from the floor.

 

Our Summer School

The Summer School is held over four weeks in the summer holiday. It offers members a varied programme of short courses and one-off lectures.

The Programme for Summer 2022 will be available in June 2022.

 

Garden parties

In the summer a number of garden parties are held in members’ gardens, often to raise money for charity. Forthcoming garden parties are all announced in the weekly Bulletin and on this website.

 

Wine tasting

Members who enjoy wine and want to learn a little more about it can join one of the wine tastings that are organised by two U3AC members with advice from a local wine merchant. They take place on occasional evenings in the U3AC premises and are advertised in the weekly Bulletin and on this website.