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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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About courses

What type of courses do you run?

We offer a wide range of courses. Our courses are grouped into 11 different categories – Art & Film; Computers & Digital Technology; Current Affairs; English Language & Literature; History; Languages; Music; Philosophy & Religion; Recreational; Science, Health & the Environment; and Social & Behavioural Sciences. Current Affairs and Languages are currently the most popular with members. The actual courses on offer depend on the topics that course leaders put forward. U3A does not commission or solicit the development or provision of courses in any subject matter area.

The U3A prospectus has a full list of the courses we run. Click on the Courses tab above to find a link to download it.

How much work is involved in an average course?

Most courses meet for two hours each week. The amount of additional work required will vary from course to course. For example, language and music courses will require some practice between classes, whereas public affairs and other discussion groups may require less preparation. Some courses may require you to do homework and /or pre-reading each week. You should check with course leaders before enrolling on the amount of additional work expected. Of course, you can do as much private study and research as you like to supplement the classes.

Do courses have prerequisites? Do I need prior knowledge?

Most courses do not have prerequisites, and where they do it is usually clearly stated in the course description in the prospectus. Some courses – particularly ongoing language courses, music courses or orchestras – may require a certain level of proficiency in order to join the class. The course leader will let you know when you enquire and/or enrol in the course.

Are there exams?

Luckily no. Our courses are all about the pleasure of learning, with none of the stresses of the formal education system. However, some course leaders may use revision exercises as part of their courses, and may collect and mark homework tasks. This is a normal part of the teaching and learning process, and not an examination or grading process.

Are there awards for study? Can I get a degree or other qualification?

We do not offer any qualifications or awards for any of the courses we present.

And although we have an agreement with the University of Canberra which allows our members to arrange to "audit" a range of their units, you will not receive any academic credit for these courses either.

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What do courses cost?

Before you can enrol in any courses you will need to join U3A. This currently costs $25 per year for an individual and $40 for a household. In addition, courses charge a small fee to cover room hire, photocopying, morning/afternoon tea provisions etc. For courses run in clubs, you may be required to join the club at a small annual cost. The rate charged will vary from course to course, and is clearly identified in the course description in the prospectus.

Where are classes held?

Courses are held across Canberra. Course leaders largely determine where courses will be held. Approximately 40% of our courses are run in either the Cook or the Hughes centres. The remainder of our courses are held in community venues such as clubs, church halls, cinemas and even private homes.

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How many courses can I enrol in?

Members should not try to attend more than three courses at a time. We suggest this because demand for courses exceeds supply, particularly in the more popular courses, the limiting factor being course leaders willing to put in the huge voluntary effort to prepare and present a course.

Limiting your participation to not more than three courses at a time would provide more opportunities for others to not be disappointed when they try to enrol.

Similarly, not putting your name down for two courses in the same time slot provides more opportunities for others to be enrolled in courses they would like to join.

We also ask that members be firm in their commitment to attend each week, as many classes have long waiting lists.

Why is there so much variation between fees for courses?

Courses are run in different venues and for different durations. Some have lots of handouts, some include a charge for refreshments. Courses held in rooms at Cook and Hughes have a rental charge, and course members pay a subsidised rate of $1.50 per week, payable in advance for the whole course, or at least the first term or semester. Course in clubs usually require you to take out membership of that club.

Our policy is that fees will be paid in full by the second week of the course, and are not negotiable. There are no discounts or special consideration with fees. For courses longer than 12 weeks, fees can be paid by term or semester, at the course leader’s discretion. The course leader sets the fees to cover the expenses of the course. The fees may include the cost of morning or afternoon tea provisions, if members of the class are willing to organise this.

Does U3A offer anything other than courses?

Yes. Click on the Activites link above to see the other events that U3A organises.

Membership

How can I join?

You can join online by following the Join link and filling in the application form. If you prefer, you can download and print the application form and bring it to one of the U3A Canberra offices where you can make a payment for your membership. The offices have printed forms if you do not have your own printer. You can also download an application form and send it in by post with a cheque.

How much does it cost to belong to U3A-ACT?

The cost to belong to U3A is in two parts. Everyone who joins U3A must pay a membership fee of $25 each year for one person or $40 for a couple living at the same address. When you enrol for a U3A course you will be told about any extra costs for items such as room rental, photocopying and the like. The amount you will be required to pay will depend on the course.

Is it better to join as a couple? Can my companion living at the same address be my partner for U3A membership?

Yes. Enrolling as a couple entitles members to record one landline number and receive one Newsletter. You can each record an email address and mobile number.

How can I pay for my U3A membership?

Online
All payments are by Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards. (Note that only debit cards which do not require a PIN can be accepted). All payments by credit and debit cards are via a secure site. U3A ACT does not retain any of your credit or debit card details.
By mail
Cheque, money order or credit card (Visa or Mastercard only). Note: While it is possible for members to pay by mailing in their credit card details, U3A does not recommend this payment method because credit card details may be stolen.
At one of the U3A offices
Cash, cheque, money order, EFTPOS using a debit card or credit card (Visa or Mastercard only)

Can I join at any time of the year?

Our membership year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

If you join during the last 3 months of the year (October - December), your membership will run until 31 December of the following year.
If you join during the first 9 months of the year (January - September), your membership will expire on 31 December of the current year.

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What sort of people are members of U3A in Canberra?

There are over 5000 members from Canberra and the district, and the number grows each year. We are a diverse group of people 50 and over, from all walks of life. There are more women than men. A common factor among members is their interest in lifelong learning and sharing knowledge or skills.

How can I get hold of the U3A Handbook?

Copies of the U3A handbook are available on the U3A website here, from where you can view it, or download and print it.

Alternatively paper copies are available at the U3A offices.

Can I be assured that my privacy will be protected once I become a member of U3A?

U3A takes the privacy of member information very seriously. We take all possible precautions to ensure that your personal details are protected – name, address and contact information. We do not keep credit card details. We have security provisions built into our website and these are regularly checked. In the unlikely event of an illegal access to our online records (including hacking) we will advise members as a matter of urgency and we will involve the police quickly. We certainly hope this will never occur. Privacy is often discussed at our management committee meetings.

U3A does not provide member information or contact details to any other person unless permission has been granted.

While members may write credit card details on the membership application or renewal form, we do not encourage the practice to minimise the possibility of theft of credit card details..

Will U3A release my information without my approval?

U3A does not provide member information contact details to any other person unless permission has been granted.

When members renew (or join) online, credit card details are handled by a payment company which uses the strictest security protocols. Your credit card details are not seen by us.

Members who submit paper renewal forms may write their credit card details on the form, but we do not encourage this practice to minimise the possibility of theft of card details

Can I be a member of another U3A at the same time as being a member of U3A in Canberra?

Yes, you are welcome to hold membership in more than one U3A but be aware that you will need to join, pay and renew separately as each organisation is separately run. At this time there are no reciprocal arrangements between the different U3A organisations. A number of members of U3A Canberra also hold membership with U3A in Bateman’s Bay, for example.

How is U3A run?

What is the legal status of U3A ACT?

U3A is an incorporated body under ACT law. The organisation’s objects, rules and policies are on the website under Governance.

Who is in charge of U3A?

U3A is entirely organised and run by its members.

We hold an annual general meeting in November and elect a committee to run the organisation. We have one standing sub-committee, the Courses Sub-Committee, that is responsible for our courses activity. Other sub-committees and working groups are formed from time to time to manage specific tasks.

We welcome your comments and feedback via the U3A ACT Facebook site.