|The university programmes for the third age are a special
form of open university. Their aim is to impart knowledge of topical
research findings to older people, as well as to offer them opportunities
to independent studies at the university level without formal requirements
of qualifications. The University of the Third Age (UTA) is a meeting
place for scientific knowledge and life experience.
The first UTA in Finland was founded in 1985
at the University of Jyväskylä. Six months later it was launched also at
the University of Helsinki. Today UTA programmes are running at nine
universities. Third age university activities are coordinated and
developed by a national advisory board which was established in
The UTAs of Finland are all connected with
the universities. In some cases the programmes are arranged jointly with
the local summer universities or with local open colleges.
The UTA programmes have been extremely
popular in Finland from the very beginning. The total number of
participants each year is about 4400 older people, of which 80 % are
women. The average age of the participants is 69 years, their basic
education varying from primary level to tertiary. The vocational profile
is also very heterogeneous. One of the typical reasons for participating
in the programmes is, for instance, that these older people did not have a
chance to study earlier in their lives, due to lack of financial
resources, war, or some other external constrain.