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An initiative, thirty years young 1

The first UTA emerged in Toulouse, France in 1973 at the University of Social Sciences where Professeur Pierre Vellas, of the Faculty of Law and Economics, conceived the idea of offering third agers a programme of activities commensurate with the conditions, needs and aspirations of this age group.

After modest beginnings and the initial lectures and physical activities, the classrooms were soon full. The older people were equally receptive to the social and emotional development brought about by meeting and sharing common aspirations as they were to intellectual and physical culture.

This first example was not long before being copied and several universities in their turn set up programmes for older people.

It was in France that the movement developed the most rapidly with the number of UTAs growing consistently over the years.

After Belgium, it was Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Canada, Sweden, Italy, the USA, England , Germanyˇ­ˇ­.. then South America, Africa and Asia.

Then Professor Pierre Vellas founded the International Association of Universities of the Third Age, the ideal location for exchanges and meetings for all providers and users of university institutions, given its role as a clearing-house of experiences and research.

Based on Roger Bernier (Sociology and Society, vol XVI)
Translated by S.H. Miller