01 May 2007

Universities unite in London to face the future together

The Rt Hon Frank Dobson, MP for Holborn and St. Pancras and the Rt Hon Lord Graham of Edmonton were among the attendees at a ceremony in Camden to celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between The Open University and The Third Age Trust, which represents the Universities of The Third Age in the UK.

The event, jointly hosted by Rosemary Mayes, Regional Director of The Open University in London and Jean Goodeve, Chairman of the Third Age Trust, took place at The Open University’s London centre in Camden.
The MOU recognises the complementary missions of both organisations, their joint interests in engaging areas of lifelong learning and through agreed collaboration; the two institutions wish to open up wider modes of learning and to promote educational opportunity and social justice in the UK and the World.

Rosemary Mayes said: “The growing relationship between the U3A and the OU is a very positive development for both organisations and for lifelong learning. I look forward to continue working closely with the U3A on an increasing range of mutually beneficial activities and projects in the future”.

Jean Goodeve said: “This occasion recognises the value of self help learning in later life. Also It is a linking together of two organisations which share visionary founding fathers to whom we are forever indebted, and the principle that all ongoing learning is based upon the validity of the experience that participants bring to the process”.

After the signing there was a question and answer session on the subject of Learning in the Modern Age and a demonstration of openlearn, the award-winning open content initiative from The Open University where educational material is made available on-line, free of charge.

Editor’s Notes

Since its beginning in 1971, more than two million people have studied Open University degree, diploma, certificate and stand-alone courses.

The Open University is ranked fifth of all UK universities for teaching quality in the Sunday Times University Guide 2006 – a ranking higher than those for Oxford and University College London. The results of the National Student Survey 2006 showed that Open University students are more satisfied with the quality of their courses than those at any other surveyed university.

More than 1000 academics are involved in writing materials and in research that ranges from e-learning to space sciences. Further details about OU study are available from the central course enquiries centre on 01908 653231 or from the OU’s website

The University of the Third Age is a self-help organisation for people no longer in full time employment providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment. It consists of local U3As all over the UK, which are charities in their own right and are run entirely by volunteers. Local U3As are learning cooperatives which draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to organise and provide interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership.

Between them U3As offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects in such fields as art, languages, music, history, life sciences, philosophy, computing, crafts, photography and walking. A typical U3A has about 250 members but could be as small as 12 and as large as 2000. The U3A approach to learning is – learning for pleasure. There is no accreditation or validation and there are no assessments or qualifications to be gained.

The Third Age Trust is the national representative body for U3As in the UK.

It is both a limited company and a registered charity. It underpins the work of local U3As by providing educational and administrative support to their management committees and to individual members and assists in the development of new U3As across the UK.


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