Old fellows still functional

April 23, 2009

Ageism would be the exclusion of people from election to the British Academy after a certain age ("Out-of-touch academy is unfit for grant role, says former fellow", 16 April). In fields such as history, many academics do their best work later in their careers. That (along with longer lifespans) explains the age distribution.

"Quantitative easing" could alter it, but there is no clear cut-off point for electability, so in the end every chair-holder would feel bad if they were not a fellow of the British Academy, rather than lucky if they were elected. For a decade or so after retirement, furthermore, fellows can still serve the academic community energetically, whereas those of us still in post have less time left over from the day job.

David d'Avray, University College London (b 1952, FBA 2005).

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