Retirement Life
2 February 2022

Learning for Life

Education can commence at any age, with a love of learning being an indicator of happiness and satisfaction for all ages. Retirement can be a prime opportunity to learn some new skills or brush up on some old ones.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn another language or a musical instrument or upskill in an area of study you undertook at an earlier time in your life - there are so many reasons to engage in learning.

Many community-based organisations, libraries, and institutions of higher learning offer free or affordable education to seniors. Tertiary institutes are usually welcoming to older learners, and there are many options for community-based or online learning too.


According to Age Concern, many communities have locally run courses and classes on a wide range of topics, including languages, the arts, music, personal development, and specialist subjects. You may be able to find a local community education centre or course on the ACE Place directory which lists the courses available by region.


The University of the Third Age is an organisation specifically geared towards providing educational opportunities to retired people. There are local branches all over the country, and they often hold meetings and host key speakers and experts in different fields of learning. The university also includes special interest groups that get together more frequently to discuss, learn, and practice their special interest. A list of local U3A branches can be found here.

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SeniorNet is an organisation that educates older people in digital and computer skills. They have offerings suitable for all levels of digital literacy, from complete beginners to advanced users who are very familiar with computer technology and are looking to hone their skills. The organisation operates a membership system, with a fee of $20 per member or $30 for two people living at the same address, correct at time of writing. There are also membership discounts available at some affiliated businesses in certain areas, accessible with a SeniorNet membership card. To learn more about SeniorNet and the course and skills on offer, visit


Many of the country’s tertiary study institutions are open to older learners joining courses of study. This includes universities, polytechnics, wananga and online providers. You can choose to undertake a degree course with a formal structure or explore short courses and creative workshops. Don’t worry if you’ve never undertaken formal study before, as most offer support for people needing to establish study, research and writing skills at the outset. Each provider structures things differently, so it pays to check with them individually. There will often be a course advisory service to help you make sure you sign up for the right courses to suit your goals.

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