The University of the Third Age was established at the University of Toulouse in France in 1972.
In France each University of the Third Age group is associated with a local University, tending to be a rather academic model.
Their aim was to improve the quality of life for older people by maintaining their contact with informative and educational programmes.
When the concept spread to the United Kingdom in the early 1980s, its nature became one of a more self-help organisation.
The first U3A in Australia began in Melbourne in 1985 and Adelaide then followed in 1986.
Currently there are approximately 20 groups in South Australia, operating in both metropolitan and regional areas.