Do we need to persuade Universities to develop a program for retired academics? Given the huge amount of time, effort and resources put into research by both people and universities the question of retirement probably needs to be addressed in this particular field. Do we just let this knowledge stream dry up or do we actively address the issue? There is probably a multitude of responses to the question of what people want as they find they are no longer able to cope with full time work. My own feeling is that as people get older they don’t want to opt out of work completely unless they absolutely hate what they are doing. This also applies to researchers, with the amount of work depending on their energy levels and their fitness. This applies to all older people and there are currently moves for employers in other fields to provide appropriate sessional employment either based on a reduction in  daily hours or in the number of days worked per week. I argue that Universities should also enable a similar path.

Academic retirement is slightly different from retirement in other areas. Research tends to be based on interest in a particular field, the opportunity to pursue it and energy levels- if you don’t feel like pursuing an interest one day it can wait until tomorrow. The big issue is access to facilities. Access to research laboratories is probably a case by case situation but library access is a different situation.

This question has arisen for me as I have now lost my University affiliation. All I needed was access to the University library so that I could peruse journals to see which most reflected my research investigations. Some Universities grant 2 year appointments but the one I was connected to only gave 1 year appointments which wasn’t enough time to do any real research. It seemed to me that granting access to the University library was a fair exchange for representation of the University at conferences and in publications. My understanding is that University listings are based on research which this involvement represented.

So where to from here? The scrapheap? My research won’t stop that’s for sure. As with many researchers it is my life. Maybe  University financing should be based on the volume of their research rather than on student numbers which is currently the default situation. We live in a highly competitive world in which the more successful countries are the ones which lead the field in development and innovation. Isn’t it time we put this in to words and action with Universities recognising their essential role in this, including with their older researchers? 

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