A Mutually Beneficial Relationship: University of the Third Age and a regional university campus

Bronwyn Ellis, Michael Leahy

Abstract


A mutually beneficial relationship has developed over the past 15 years between a regional South Australian branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A) and the local university campus. Arising from the initiative of a community member, the group sought assistance from the university, and has now become integrated into campus life. The university has provided a venue for meetings and access to other facilities, and university staff have contributed to the program of classes. The U3A has undoubtedly benefited from these inputs. However, the university has also benefited from these opportunities to engage with the wider community, the presence of willing volunteers to contribute in various ways to university classes and other activities, and favourable word-of-mouth marketing.

Beginning with background information on U3A, the local branch and its setting, we reflect on the sustainability of this relationship with the university and the factors that have contributed to this. We draw on our U3A experience and on two qualitative research projects in which U3A members have taken part: projects which have investigated their motivation for participation in U3A classes and activities, and the contributions of U3A to the university and vice versa. Not only has the relationship itself been sustained thus far, it has also contributed to sustaining U3A members in their active involvement in learning and community activities, and has been a significant part of community engagement activities of the campus.

Keywords
University of the Third Age; university-community engagement; mutual benefit; lifelong learning; retirement; productive ageing

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