I am outraged by the efforts of Royal Academy engineers to import what can only be regarded as institutionalised age discrimination into the RAE process. Their (reportedly) successful efforts to persuade their RAE panel to view a high proportion of older academics in assessed departments in a negative light will sacrifice research expertise at the altar of ageist prejudices.
It is wrong to question the "sustainability" of departments with a high average age. Departments that do well in RAE assessments will have both the reputation and resources to attract top replacement staff for those who are retiring. Moreover, given the job mobility enjoyed by young, high-achieving academics, there is no guarantee their contribution to a specific department will be "sustained".
I have recently felt optimistic about combating age discrimination in academia, but now I see that the work of older academics is in danger of being devalued, as existing ageist prejudices are disguised in new clothes.
I urge anybody interested in combating age discrimination to get in touch with me so that we can campaign against this injustice.
Dave Toke, aged 53
Department of sociology