Thousands of lecturers in new universities could be allowed to draw part of their pension early while continuing to work part time under government proposals for reform of the system.
David Miliband, the School Standards Minister, unveiled a raft of possible changes to increase the flexibility of the teachers pension scheme, which covers schoolteachers and about 20,000 lecturers in post-92 universities.
Teachers, lecturers and employers would be consulted on the proposals, he said.
The changes are needed as part of the reform of all public-sector pension schemes that will mean that those joining a scheme on or after 2006 will face a statutory retirement age of 65 instead of 60.
The change will not affect existing pension scheme members until 2013, so those who are 60 before 2013 can retire but those who do not turn 60 until after that date must work until 65. Similarly, the minimum age for drawing a pension will rise from 50 to 55 in 2010 under new Inland Revenue rules.
The changes will save the Government money on its pensions schemes.
The present pension is based on 1/80th of salary with a fixed lump sum of three times annual pension. The Department for Education and Skills proposes that it be based on 1/60th of salary with the option to take out up to a quarter of the total value of the pension fund.
Under the proposals, part-time lecturers will be treated the same as their full-time colleagues and survivors' pensions will be paid in full for life, regardless of whether people remarry or cohabit.