The concept of educational opportunities for older people originated in English and French universities and has developed as community based education in many countries around the world including Australia.
The U3A Australian development has been closer to the British model where formal university ties have virtually disappeared. This does not diminish the value of the contribution which universities can make in both the provision of course material and the participation of scholars and researchers in delivering courses focused on the needs of mature, mentally active people. The U3A groups in the environs of Wollongong benefit significantly from the local University
The strength of the U3A movement lies in its principles of self help and mutual support and its recognition of the broad spectrum of expertise among those who are retired from academe, industry and community service. A major attraction is of course the opportunity for social and intellectual interaction among peers.