Saturday, November 16, 2013


From The Sunday Times 27 Oct 2013

Education is no longer the domain of the young. Lifelong learning is flourishing. Adult education is turning into a lucrative industry, with the mushrooming of open universities and institutions offering skills-based courses targeting those aged 60 and above. Even traditional universities are jumping on the bandwagon and making certificate and degree courses more easily accessible and affordable to everyone, regardless of age.

Picture grab from The Sunday Times (caption added)

With a wide range of interesting courses to select from, and a senior discount thrown in as well, older adults are signing up in droves. And many are enjoying the 'back-to-class' experience. In fact, it's more fun the second time around as they get to study courses they are genuinely interested in, and often, there are no exams to stress them out. They learn because they want to, not because they have to. 

All images above are picture grabs from the print edition of The Sunday Times article "Ageing with Class" dated 27 Oct 2013

Take for example, the University of the Third Age (U3A). It started at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Toulouse, France in 1973. It made use of campus facilities to conduct short courses specially for older people.

Today there are U3As in countries like Britain, Australia, Canada, and Russia. In January 2009, the first virtual U3A was launched to cater to those who lived in places where there was no U3A, or who were unable to physically attend classes.

Banner of U3A Malaysia website

Right here in our own backyard, we have the University of the Third Age, Malaysia. I have written much about it in previous blog posts. Suffice to say that since 2011, I have been attending classes held at the Institute of Gerontology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Kuala Lumpur.

Many of the students have been returning every year since 2008 to take up new courses. This is learning at leisure, and loads of fun - the best kind of learning! The current year has just ended. If you would like to register for the new semester starting early 2014, please visit the U3A Malaysia, Facebook page, and click on LIKE to be kept informed of U3A courses and activities. 

Banner of the Coursera website

For those who are interested in online academic courses, you might also want to check out Coursera. There are over 100 top universities including Yale University, California Institute of Technology (CalTech), National University of Singapore and Peking University, offering close to 550 courses all for FREE, and the number is growing. I have signed up for two courses, and am about to complete my first course "Care of Elders with Alzheimer's Disease" this Monday, 18 Nov 2013.

My first course ends on 18 Nov. A 5-week course but so much to learn and absorb. The course work and assignments are challenging, but I have gained new insights into AD. 

One of the best ways for retired persons to keep mentally active is to keep learning. Remember the saying "Use it, or lose it"? If we don't exercise our brain cells, we may end up having brain atrophy. Happy learning!

(Footnote: If you would like to know more about U3A Malaysia or Coursera, send your queries to

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