Third Age in Finland


One of the projects we had planned before NP suspended publication was a comparison of the way different countries with differing cultures viewed and organised their association with the University of the Third Age. 

On the back burner was a report on how, in Finland, the University of the Third Age operated through the University of Helsinki.

 This is quite unlike the situation in many other countries, the UK included, where the U3A is treated largely as a leisure rather then an academic activity, which latter is regarded more as the territory of the Open University.

 However, in Finland - (and I quote from their website entry of July 2003):

University of the Third Age is a part of the Open University. It was founded in 1985. Its aim is to introduce latest research findings to older people and offer them opportunities to independent academic studies without formal qualifications. University of the Third Age is a meeting place for scientific knowledge and life experience.

General principles

The activity of the University of the Third Age is based on the following principles:

1. Lifelong learning 

One learns through one's whole life - also after the active working period is over. Coping with our rapidly changing environment sets endless challenges for the members of society. For that reason it is important that continuous learning and self development is enabled for people of all ages.

2. An integral part of the University of Helsinki

University of the Third Age offers academic education. It is connected to the University of Helsinki also through its organization. It reflects the original concept of university: studying is important also for its own sake. Credits are not pursued. People gather together to study to open up the scope of their thinking, to develop their personality and to get tools to comprehend the world outside.

3. Cooperative planning 

At the University of the Third Age, the curriculum is planned together with the students. Thus the students influence the contents and the arrangements of the tuition.

Forms of Study


Adult education centres

Most of the lecture series and some of the seminars are produced in collaboration with adult education centres.

Program Autumn 2003

Lecture series (titles translated in English)

Novelties in Science
Indigenous and Minority People of the Contemporary World
The Ancient Greece - the Cradle of Civilization
Persons Who Have Changed the World History
The Historical and Contemporary Baltic Sea Region
The European Union in Transition
Bella Italia
Russia - our neighbour
Lectures on Finnish Theatre
The European Union in Transition
The Mighty Powers of Nature
The People of Europe
A Glimpse of the East
Europe - a Continent of Diversities
North America
Genes, Languages and People in Europe
Islam and Other Religions
The Time of the World War II in Finland


Art history
Folklore (in Lahti and Tapiola, Espoo)
Writing Autobiography

IT classes 

Internet I (two courses)
Internet II
Front Page
Word-processing I
Word-processing II
Word-processing and Internet - repetition PowerPoint
Saving Files and Pictures on CD
Data Security
Windows 2000
IT-tutor Course

Distant learning groups

Distant learning groups in old age homes and other institutions listen to the following taped series of lectures:

Ancient Cultures
Encountering Time
Influential Finnish Persons in the 20th Century
Man and Medicine
On the Mercy of Nature
Religions and Reality
Views on Europe
Views of Mind
The Locus of Art
The World Today
The World War II in Finland