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European universities, a place where life-long-learning takes place

pictur of a group of students
Ageing is one of the most central issues in today’s European society. The European population is getting older and it has severe impact not only on the labour market but also on the operation of the whole society. Universities, however, embrace life-long-learning. and more than welcome all age groups.

Keeping pace with change

There is a growing number of Europeans over 50 years old, and they have a greater impact on various facets of society ranging from labour market issues to  overall quality of life.

People over 50 also face new challenges and need to keep up with changes in the society. In order to stay active in the labour market and preserve their working activity as well as to integrate well into the society it is essential for them to maintain their physical and mental fitness.

The Universities of the Third Age

The Universities of the Third Age (U3A)  are looking for ways to give guidance for people over 50 on how to maintain their mental well-being.

With the involvement of social actors, educators, psychologists and other professionals U3As aim to develop programmes which offer resources and learning activities to learn about different disciplines that affect the learning capacity and mental health of this more mature generation.

There are many European countries where these types of programmes are developed in public universities. These programmes started in France at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Tolouse as early as 1973. In France, as well as in Spain and Germany, each University of the Third Age University group is mostly associated with a local university. There is also a worldwide association of the U3As, known as the AIUTA (www.aiu3a.org).

U3A as a part of the University of Málaga

The educational program in the University of Málaga includes a Senior University (Aula de Mayores+55) focused on people over 55. It is an initiative to integrate seniors at the university by offering a special program where students can attend seminars on different kind of topics: Health, ICT, Languages, Humanities, Economics, Social and Natural Sciences or Sport Activities, among others.

This educational program has been working since 1994. More than 1200 students and 60 teachers in the academic year 2019/2020 are attending the classes. It is also a member of AEPUM (National Association of U3A) and AIUTA (International).

In future collaboration, it would be interesting to look into life-long-learning in European universities, and to share good practices in more detail.


About the author

José Jesús Delgado Peña works as a Deputy Vice-President for International Cooperation at the University of Málaga.

About the blog

3IN blog offers perspectives on Inclusion, Integration and Involvement. The writers come from the alliance of seven diverse higher education institutions across Europe, sharing a goal: a world where no one is left behind.

The core purpose of the 3IN Alliance, and our ambitious long-term objective, is to co-create an innovative European University. Read more from our website.

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