A decision by Cambridge University chiefs to continue to force academics to retire at 67 has generated mixed feelings among staff.

Members of the university’s Council and General Board said they were concerned that if they did not continue with the rules, lecturers would not retire soon enough, preventing younger blood from entering the profession.

The rules will apply to academics only, with other university employees having no age limit set on their retirement.

While some dons have praised the move for preventing the university from becoming “elderly”, others argue the policy is discriminatory.

In October, 2010, a working group considered the university’s retirement policy after the Government abolished the statutory Default Retirement Age, meaning employers had to justify any rules on compulsory retirement. Consultations with staff followed.

A university spokesman confirmed: “The majority of responses were in favour of continuing a retirement age for established staff, providing that appropriate arrangements for considering extensions of employment beyond that age were in place.

“There was no similar consensus supporting a retirement age for other groups of staff.”

The plan, which will come into force in April, means academics will have to retire at the end of the academic year in which they turn 67, although they have a right to appeal for an extension if “appropriate and mutually beneficial”.

Mary Beard, classics professor at Newnham College, said she was in favour of the proposals.

She said: “Academic jobs are in short supply and you don’t want departments dominated by the excellent but elderly.

“Those who are left to decide their own retirement age don’t always know when to go. And trying to push them out when they are 80-plus and past it is no fun for anyone.”

But Prof Felicia Huppert, a psychologist who is director of Cambridge Wellbeing Institute, said: “It is very surprising that the university has decided to retain a mandatory retirement age despite recent national law stipulating ‘it is discrimination for an employer to compulsorily retire an employee who is aged 65 or above’.

“Since people are living into their 80s and beyond in good health, retirement ages everywhere should be going up fast so the younger generation do not have so many people to support through the post-retirement years.

“The obvious solution is phased retirement, where older people move to part-time work.”


Article from cambridge-news.co.uk