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by Peter Laslett
[Please note: these Objects & Principles were originally published in September 1981 and slightly amended in 1984 for national circulation. They were generally accepted by the Founding Committee of the University of the Third Age but have never been taken as hard and fast rules. These are the amended version.]
to educate British society at large in the facts of its present age constitution and of its permanent situation in respect of ageing. One of the first of the ‘old’ societies, we find ourselves in a position which is bound to share with all developed societies and finally with the whole world’s population.
to make those in their later years in Britain aware of their intellectual, cultural and Aesthetic potentialities, and of their values to themselves and to their society. To assail the dogma of intellectual decline with age.
to provide from amongst the retired, the resources for the development and intensification of their intellectual, cultural and aesthetic lives. In this way to help them to make effective and satisfying use of their freedom from work at the office, shop or factory. To devise methods of doing this which can be afforded in Britain.
to create an institution for these purposes where there is no distinction between the class of those who teach and those who learn, where as much as possible of the activity is voluntary, freely offered by the members of the university to other members and to other people.
so to organise this institution that learning is pursued, skills acquired, interests are developed for themselves alone with no reference to qualifications, awards, or personal advancement.
to mobilise members of the university so as to help the very large number of elderly persons in Britain standing in need of educational stimulation but who have no wish to engage in university studies.
to undertake research on the process of ageing in society and especially on the position of the elderly in Britain and the means of its improvement.
to encourage the establishment of similar institutions in every part of the country where conditions are suitable and to collaborate with them.