An old mistake at OU

November 17, 2006

The Open University seem to be under a serious misapprehension over the new age discrimination regulations ("OU staff criticise 'unfair' age rules", November 9).

Times Higher readers should be clear. There is absolutely no statutory requirement for the OU to have a fixed retirement age; indeed, its "business needs", never mind the best interests of staff and students, seem particularly well suited to not having one.

Arbitration service Acas guidelines for employers say "you do not have to have a fixed retirement age"; and the Equality Challenge Unit has a useful briefing on age that includes a section on next steps for universities. It would be much better for the OU to suspend its current approach and follow that advice rather than end up dealing with the matter in the courts.

Roger Kline
Head of equality and employment rights, University and College Union

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