Don’t call me a job blocker. We can’t all afford to retire | Letters

Don’t call me a job blocker. We can’t all afford to retire | Letters

Readers respond to Mary Beard’s defence of Cambridge University’s mandatory retirement age of 67

Mary Beard’s experience as a longtime Cambridge academic with an outstanding post‑retirement career is not the norm (Is Cambridge University right to enforce a retirement age? I think so – who wants to be a ‘job blocker’?, 29 June). Here is the reality: I moved to Cambridge 10 years ago as a mid-career academic. The cost of housing had exploded. I will be mortgaged until retirement. Meanwhile, our pension system has been downgraded, leaving many of us anxious about the state of our finances if we do not have any flexibility about when to take retirement. (I should note that when this downgrade was brought in, the head of Universities UK told us that we should expect to have to work longer. Cambridge does not give us this option.)

In my department, we have a large number of open positions. As a consequence, we are extremely understaffed and begging retired faculty to help with teaching. We recruit internationally, competing with top departments in the US and elsewhere; forced retirement has no effect on the job prospects of junior Cambridge academics.

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