65岁以上教授数量激增引发机会辩论

英国近半数教授年龄在55岁以上

二月 3, 2021
Group of elderly people on walking holiday negotiating a ladder access over a wall between fields, English Lake District
Source: Alamy

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过去5年间,英国高等教育界年龄超过65岁的教授人数增加了一半以上,这引发了人们的疑问:延迟退休是否使年轻的研究人员更难达到学术界的最高级别。

英国高等教育统计局(Higher Education Statistics Agency)的数据显示,这一年龄组的教授在2019/20年占教授总数的11.3%,高于2014/15年度的8.6%。在所有教授中,接近一半(46%)年龄在55岁以上,而36至45岁年龄段的比例下降了2个百分点,降至14%。自2014/15年度以来,这一年轻群组的教授人数仅增加了2%,达到3190名,而教授总数增加了16%。

自2011年英国废除强制退休制度以来,有关年龄较大的教授是否在教育体系中制造障碍的讨论一直不断。2019年,物理学家保罗·埃沃特(Paul Ewart)争辩说,这只能为年轻学者(其既定目标)带来一小部分机会,从而赢得了反对牛津大学退休年龄政策的就业法庭案。牛津大学正对该裁定提出上诉。

新生儿学专家、全球青年学院(Global Young Academy)成员、伯明翰大学(University of Birmingham)名誉研究员格尔格伊·托尔地(Gergely Toldi)说,在“理想世界”中,应该既有可能让教授工作更长时间,同时也能给年轻学者创造足够机会。

但是,他警告说,新冠病毒大流行正在给那些处于职业生涯初期的学者施加更大压力,“因为他们的职位往往不如教授安全”。

托尔地博士说,解决方案之一必须“专门”为早期职业研究人员提供更多资助机会,同时还可以提供指导机会,以提高他们在资助申请中的竞争力。

英国研究人员协会(UK Research Staff Association)联合主席、为牛津研究人员提供研发建议的流行病学家安佳丽·沙阿(Anjali Shah)说,研究人员队伍中的一个“ 进退维谷的要素”是,让资深教员继续工作通常符合博士后们的利益。

她说:“很少有研究人员希望他们的教授或主要研究人员退休,因为他们的声望带来能支付薪水和研究项目的资金。那些教授还担任初级研究人员的导师。通常是中级科研人员离开学术界,这其中确实存在差距。”

沙阿博士说,她希望看到该领域有更多大笔资金用于在整个职业生涯中支持长期的“职员科学家”岗位,“以覆盖所有做着重要工作的实验室经理、流行病学家、项目经理、统计学家等”。

伯明翰大学包容性与多元化荣誉教授加里·托马斯(Gary Thomas)最近于70岁退休,他说,经验丰富的教员可以提供的指导是大学应探索的主要资产之一。

然而,大学也可以通过更多地采用诸如灵活退休之类的计划来缓解迭代紧张关系,这是指资深教员可以从事兼职工作。

“出于某些原因,这些计划虽然可用,但经常被那些来咨询的人拒绝。”他所:“在我看来,这就像是大学在搬起石头砸自己的脚。如果教授们愿意以诸如50%的薪水工作,那么大学将从他们的经验和专业知识中获得巨大收益而维持开支。”

simon.baker@timeshighereducation.com

本文由Liu Jing为泰晤士高等教育翻译。

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Reader's comments (4)

Although I am looking forward to retirement in a few years well before the age of 70, I do not believe that the number of older staff necessarily prevents younger staff promotions. In fact, I have seen the opposite in my own department where many of my colleagues have reached the rank of Professor at an age when I had only just joined the department as a Lecturer. Moreover, at my university, there is no "quota" for different grades. It is possible and very likely that departments become "top-heavy" with most staff being Readers or Professors so there is no issue in terms of progression. Since the majority of staff are expected to produce research and to teach, this does not create any problems in terms of overall load.
The sector is going to have to give up its long held fantasy of a typical academic career path. It is by no means typical any more for someone to enter as a full time permanent lecturer and slowly rise up the ranks. More likely these days is that academics are moving from one fixed term contract to the next for large parts of their careers. As the article points out older faculty with reputations are critical for winning research income to support more junior (not necessarily younger) researchers on less secure contracts. If those junior researchers manage to last it out going from one insecure contract to the next, they will not make it to professor until late in their career. Then they will be forced to retire early by his logic!
Has there been a growth in the numbers of Professors over the past decade or so? At about what age are staff becoming Professors? And has that changed over recent years?
Isn’t this also effectively a consequence of the slashed pay and pensions for everyone over the last decade? Staff working longer in order to have enough money for retirement? And also in career average/ final salary schemes having a higher salary for longer is a distinct advantage. So the profs win both ways. More intergenerational inequity baked into the system...