Most recent change of BriefingNoteU3A

Edit made on July 20, 2017 by ColinWright at 20:57:46

Deleted text in red / Inserted text in green

|>> IMG:mta2.png <<|
IMG:logo.png _


|>> IMG:ma_logo.gif <<|




*The* U3A, Maths *and* *the* LivMS _

*To* : *LivMS* LivMS *Committee* *Members*

* The intent of this note is to provide a summary of the history of the ‘U3A’ movement leading, in particular, to our recent exploration of the potential linking of interests of the Liverpool Mathematical Society and the ‘U3A’ movement in the Merseyside region.

1. *The* *‘U3A’* *Story*

* 1.1. *In* *Outline*

** Within general education circles, ‘U3A’ is the recognised abbreviation for ‘University of the Third Age’.

** The ‘U3A’ movement is a nation-wide alliance of autonomous locally-based self-help co-operative “learning associations” of older people who may no longer be in full-time employment.

** The principal website is at

** At the time of writing the movement had in excess of 385,029 members (note the precision!) distributed across 1,010 local associations. All U3A’ local associations are charities in their own right and are run entirely by volunteers. They are learning co-operatives in that they draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to identify and organise interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the local membership.

* 1.2. *Some* *Brief* *Details*

** UK-wide ‘U3A’s’ offer the chance to join in over 300 different activity areas such as art, music, languages, history, life sciences, philosophy,computing, crafts, photography and walking.

** A typical ‘U3A’ has about 250 members but could be as small as 12 or as large as 2000. The approach to learning championed by the ‘U3A’ is "learning for pleasure”.

** In respect of terminology in use, a distinction is to be drawn between the expressions (i) ‘a U3A’ (in its singular sense) as used to describe an association in a particular locality - sometimes informally, but otherwise conveniently, called a “branch” - and (ii) ‘the U3A’ (in its collective sense) as used to describe the totality of the national organisation.

* 1.3. *General* *Aims* *and* *Guiding* *Principles*

** It should be noted that whilst including “University” in its title, no reference to the ‘U3A’ in either its singular or collective sense is comparable to any equivalent reference to a conventional/chartered UK University. No academic qualifications are required for participation in its activities and no awards are made upon their “completion”. Also, participants are referred to not as “students” but as “members”.

** Although all local ‘U3As’ function as operationally independent associations, they as such are all members of “The Third Age Trust”. Accordingly they must abide by the Trust’s original Objects and Principles as written in 1981 and its onward Principles as approved in 2014.

** “The Third Age Trust” is the umbrella body (registered charity and limited company) which represents all U3As in the UK at national and international levels.

** For more on “The ‘U3A’ Story”: see link

* 2. *The* *‘U3A’* *in* *and* *around* *Merseyside*

** Nationally, the creation of the first UK ‘U3A‘ in Cambridge in 1982 drew upon the concepts but not the formal structure of the cognate French “Universite du Troiseme Age” as finalised in 1974. For a brief glimpse, see link:

** ‘U3A s’ within Merseyside and its adjacent Counties are members of “The North West Region of U3A s”. Within the Region, many ‘U3A s’ have established geographically based Networks to work together for the benefit of their members. For information about the Region, its Networks and its constituent ‘U3A s’, see the following links:,,

3. *‘U3A’-related* *Session* *at* *the* *‘ATM’* *2017* *Annual* *Conference*
** Entitled *“*Revisiting* Mathematics *in* *Retirement* *with* *the* U3A”, presented by *David* *Martin*

* 3.1. *Synopsis*

** “....From ‘Maths for Fun’ to post-A level, sessions are held in community rooms and people's homes, face to face and on-line. David will share the role of the U3A in Mathematics and Statistics, and intersperse the session with tasks he uses in his own ‘Maths for Fun’ group.”

* 3.2. *About* *David* *Martin*

** David is the National Subject Advisor for Mathematics and Statistics for the University of the Third Age. Currently, in addition to his U3A role, David is also Chair of the BCME 9 Committee for the forthcoming Conference April 2018 U of Warwick. Previously he has served as a Member of the planning committees for both BCME 6 and BCME 8. See link:

** For David Martin’s NCETM 2010 autobiographic snapshot, see link:

4. *Letter:* *‘U3A* Mathematics *and* *Statistics’* *per* *IMA* “Mathematics Today”, issue *October* *2016*
- referencing Issue 58 of ‘U3A‘ “Sources” magazine, June 2016

** “Retired, and soon to retire, members ( of IMA ) may be interested to know that the University of the Third Age (‘U3A’) is an organisation that exists to share and expand knowledge, enthusiasm and friendship amongst the retired community.
*** It has a claimed membership of some 366,000 individuals in the UK who belong to local groups within which they in turn belong to various interest or subject groups. Folks study and participate in anything from archaeology to walking and these categories in turn have subject advisers who advise and help them both in their setting up and in their running.In addition the local group might run public lectures of a general interest format, and at the same time have stands indicating what groups people might join in or start up in that group like a Freshers Fair.
*** In particular there are some Maths and Stats interest groups and this June (2016) the U3A ’ “Sources” magazine (Issue 58) looked at the subjects of maths and science and how such groups operate in different places.
*** So if this idea of continuing participation appeals to you (and of course doing new and other things too) then simply putting in ‘U3A’ into your search engine will give a homepage and local group webpages and contacts to get you started. Past copies of the “Sources” magazine can also be viewed on line and there is a general magazine called “Third Age Matters” that is sent to members.

** Laurence E Nicholas CMath FIMA - sometime Sheffield Hallam University"

5. *‘U3A’* -> Liverpool Mathematical Society *Reduced*Subscription*Offer*

** In 2016, members of ‘LivMS’ also noted the Maths and Science article in the ‘U3A’ “Sources” magazine (Issue 58). Subsequent investigation identified that there were 28 local ‘U3A s’ in the Greater Merseyside area. Unlike in some other parts of the UK, mathematics and science inputs seem rather thin on the ground.

** With a view to strengthening the currently tentative links between 'U3As' and the LivMS it has been agreed that ‘U3A’ members be regarded as qualifying for the LivMS Reduced Subscription Rates as currently accorded to members of the 'Mathematical Association' and of the 'Association of Teachers of Mathematics'.

** These benefits, include in particular being able to attend our 'Popular Lectures' for no extra charge (normally £4 admission for non-students) and also being kept up to date with any relevant items of news

** The LivMS Committee’s immediate aims in seeking to strengthen the links with local U3As are twofold:
*** It is hoped that ‘U3A‘ members may be attracted to ‘ LivMS ‘ Popular Lectures. The topics presented may then seed ideas for subsequent discussion at local ‘U3A ‘ group meetings.
*** Again it is hoped that ‘U3A‘ members’ attendance at ‘ LivMS ‘ Popular Lectures may presage a healing of the evident gaps between the currently seemingly disparate Mathematics communities within and around Merseyside.

6. *The*Next*Stage*

** It is intended that local ‘U3As’ be made aware of the above offer.

** At the same time, irrespective of whether or not the Reduced Subscription offer is taken up, the availability of the web-site as a point of reference for information on current and forthcoming LivMS activities will become more widely known.

Ken McKelvie

May 2017