Universities of the third age in Lithuania. Situation of 2018
In the context of an ageing society, substantial attention is increasingly focused on satisfaction of educational needs of the elderly people. One of ways to achieve this goal is the establishment of special training institutions for the elderly. Special training institutions of this type are also needed because of the needs of the elderly that are specific to their age. Usually, they do not need state-recognised certificates of completion of education, besides, the elderly students have their own requirements for studies because of their health conditions, e.g., lecturers must speak clearly and loud enough, the quantity of information provided may not be too big, relations in such educational establishments must be much more non-formal, liberal if compared with a usual educational institution.
The situation has established in Lithuania, where elderly people usually satisfy their educational needs through non-formal education.
U3A is among educational institutions experiencing the greatest growth in its popularity in Lithuania. The first U3A was established in 1995. By 2012, there were 24 U3As. In spring 2014, there were 40 third century universities in different towns of Lithuania, while in spring 2018, their number increased to 67 independent U3As in the municipalities of Lithuania. On the other hand, for a long time U3As were not included into the general system of Lithuanian education at all, they essentially operated as autonomous establishments.
To collect main statistical information about the activities of Third century universities, it was decided to apply statistical survey methodology of 2014. The same object of survey was chosen – managers of U3As and attempts were made to determine progress achieved by those managers in implementation of the activities of third century universities. By using the survey instrument applied in 2014, the main fields illustrating and defining U3A activities and variables of the instrument were selected. In addition to other advantages, it allowed to compare the situations of 2014 and 2018 and to decide on further trends of U3A activities in Lithuania. The survey was conducted in April – June 2018.