Over 50 and still going strong

I have to be honest and tell you that I passed my half-century a few years ago. I’d like to think that I still have youthful good looks and could pass for a much younger man, but that got punctured the other day when a small boy passing by on a bicycle with his father said to the latter that he should ‘watch out for the old man’, and as I was the only one there, well, he meant me. And so I have to come to terms with the idea that I am now at an age past the point at which, some 35 years ago, I believed senility began. Maybe I should be looking closely at Saga holidays and organising Bridge evenings. Shoot me now!

But actually, as the demographic make-up of society changes continuously, there are serious things to consider here. Earlier this year in a post here I suggested that we might need to look again at compulsory retirement ages. And at the same time, I feel we need to look at the contribution universities make to the employment of slightly older people. Right now, as part of the public sector cost cutting exercise under way in Ireland, we are being prompted to encourage people close to retirement age to go early, thereby reducing the pay bill. Is this what we should be doing?

In the United States a survey was conducted recently to identify the best employers for employees over 50, and interestingly three of the top 10 were universities. Indeed, the top-rated employer was Cornell University. There should be a lesson in this for us. I believe that those who still feel fit and mentally agile and who have passed retirement age can still make valuable contributions to higher education, and indeed may be particularly conscientious teachers and researchers. So perhaps we should think again about whether we can or should apply a retirement and pensions policy that we really cannot afford, and which may deprive society – and in our case higher education – of some of its most valuable contributors.

Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, society, university

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9 Comments on “Over 50 and still going strong”

  1. Aoife Citizen Says:

    I feel quite strongly that the Universities should have supported accommodation for the elderly on site. The academy makes quite large demands on academics: it demands we make our life our work, research, thinking about research, threads itself through our whole waking day and through our sleeping dreams, it is wrong not to allow that relationship to continue into retirement.

    Already many academics continue to be active in research long after they stop being paid for it and having supported accommodation on site would help those elderly academics who wanted it to remain involved in their community, it would make it easier for them to continue to contribute wisdom and knowledge to their fields and would help support a University of the Third Age for elderly people who want to continue learning into old age.

  2. Jake Pearce Says:

    Dear Ferdinand,

    I really agree with your comments. I was asked to write a book about ‘Generation C’ (digital natives) and the point of being Generation C is it is a psychographic as opposed to a demographic generation – the first in history. I too am adopted Generation C (41) and I would like to invite you to participate in something.

    I was asked to write a book about Generation C and I found a more original way, I think, to achieve the same outcome – it is a world first. I would like to invite you jake@jakepearce.com

  3. Wendymr Says:

    I don’t know about DCU, or even Ireland, but in the British university system 50 was the threshold at which one could look forward to near-annual letters offering you increasingly-poor early retirement packages. A very belated welcome to the Decade of Obselescence!

  4. Tor Hershman Says:

    Well, a least you ain’t one of them geezers that goes sex crazy.


  5. Vincent Says:

    Surely there is nothing stopping them from putting in something, contributing. The only issue is in the payment.
    As to Aoife idea, is it not a bit cruel and unusual having a care-home filled to the brim with Academics.

  6. Vincent Says:

    Surely there is nothing stopping them from putting in something, contributing. The only issue is in the payment.
    As to Aoife idea, is it not a bit cruel and unusual having a care-home filled to the brim with Academics.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

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