Professor Graham Crow (University of Edinburgh) reports on findings from a mixed-methods study of later academic careers and retirement conducted in 2020-21, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
The study involved both surveys and interviews of later-career and retired UK-based academics, together with analysis of obituaries and of universities’ staffing policies relating to retirement. The analysis of the data was framed around answering four questions: What does ‘retirement’ mean, and what does it look like? Is there a right time to retire? How do academic identities evolve? and, What support do universities provide? The findings suggest that, in between those who never retire and those who make a clean break from academia, it is far more common for academics to seek a new work-life balance involving both change and continuity.