The U3A organisation started in France in 1973. It was started by a Prof. Pierre Vellas and was closely associated with local universities. This academic model is followed in continental Europe.
By the early 1980s, the scheme reached the United Kingdom where its nature was radically changed to be more of a self help organisation. This model is also used in Australia, Cyprus, Dominica, New Zealand and South Africa.
In the British model it is acknowledged that retired people have a lifetime of experience and, collectively, a vast amount of knowledge. This is used to arrange a syllabus for each subject where each meeting is normally led by a member of the group with specialist knowledge.
In USA There has been little found about U3A.
"Despite being introduced to San Diego in 1975 the U3A movement, as such, has not struck a responsive chord with aging Americans. Part of the reason for this can, perhaps, be attributed to the wide range of competing, professionally organised programs. The internationally known Elderhostel program, which also began in 1975, and a number of other large programs having many elements in common with both the French and British models of U3A are described by Knox (1993), and Moskow-McKenzie and Manheimer (1993).
In Logan City In 2010 the possibility of U3A Brisbane having classes in Logan was raised when members of a library book group, in particular Erika Meerwald, June Woodward, and Margie Morris, agreed to help start activities in Springwood. Bev Ross, David Anderson, Nick Knight and Jean Townsend organised a meeting at the Logan North Library, with the help of the then President of U3A Brisbane, Ray Bricknall. Over 50 people attended the meeting, keen to help start classes in the area. Jean took on the convenor role and, with the help of many volunteers, U3A activities in Logan began.
Soon there were Latin, Psychology, German, Philosophy, Painting and Drawing classes and groups such as Walking for Pleasure and Camera Club followed. Subsequently a variety of subjects were added and the list grows and changes. Under its local committee, U3A Brisbane’s Logan District continues to go from strength to strength.