DCU is a young university, and one of the consequences is that it has a younger community of staff. In my last job in the University of Hull I was Dean of a Faculty, and typically we would have retirement functions for members of staff four or five times a year. In DCU, for the entire university, I have attended fewer retirement functions (and I do attend them all) in ten years than I did for one Faculty in Hull during three years. But right now the generation of entrepreneurial and determined colleagues who were there when DCU admitted its first students, and most of whom have stayed extraordinarily loyal to the institution, is approaching retirement age, and some of them have already embarked upon this new phase of their lives. On one of the occasions when we were celebrating their careers and wishing them well, a colleague who was retiring confided to me how she had dreaded this moment and how she wished she could still continue to work. And she remarked that one of her friends, an academic in the United States, was five years older than her but was still staying in her job with no intention of retiring any time soon.
Yesterday it was reported that the government will gradually phase in a new pensions and retirement framework under which the minimum state pension age will be raised from the current 65 to 68, albeit several years from now. Some of this is related to the fact that the taxpayer simply cannot any longer afford to pay pensions for everyone, in particular in the light of changing demographics and a tendency to live much longer. But is this enough? Is the idea of the compulsory retirement age (whatever that age might be) not now an anachronism? Indeed, is it fair? Should we not allow those who want to work longer to do so, as long as they are fit and able? In fact, should retirement not be an entirely voluntary decision?