In UK/Ireland/Australia/NZ, they don't seem to have a set retirement age. However, when do faculty members actually retire, or 'have to' retire (due to peer pressure, for example)?

This question is related to: 1. How common is it for tenured professors to retire?, but my question is specific to the British system, and 2. How common is redundancy in the British (UK/Australia/NZ/Ireland) system?

If there is no tenured position in these countries (except Ireland, perhaps), isn't it easier to pressure the older faculty members (who may not be doing much research but at least be doing all the mandatory teaching) to step down? In a tenured system such as US/Canada, it would be difficult to fire a tenured and aged professor even if he/she is research inactive, I believe?

Edit: With the follow up comments, the refinement of my question is: can the management in a university in the British system use the redundancy as an excuse to remove an 'old' and research inactive (but ok at teaching etc.) faculty member?

  • You are asking for 4 different countries. Even though they use the same "system", retirement age is independent of that. In Australia, retirement age is 65, though there is pressure to increase it. That said, older staff members are expensive and it is often cheaper to give them a redundancy payoff. I've seen it happen. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 19:28
  • @DaveClarke, I assumed that in all these countries, there was no 'formal' retirement age in any field (not necessarily only in academia). I thought forcing one for retirement based on age is nowadays considered discrimantory. Are you saying that in Australia, 65 is the mandatory retirement age for everyone in academia (industrysuper.com/understand-super/retirement/retirement-age)?
    – John
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 20:29
  • Technically in Australia you don't get the pension until you are 70. So you can retire before, if you have enough savings/superannuation or after if you want. news.com.au/finance/… Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 21:13
  • @DaveClarke, thanks. However, voluntary retirement is not what I am concerned with. I am interested in knowing what happens when the faculty members are past 60-65 and research standards may be fading (I am not saying that age and research are related). In the US system, they can't be fired if they are at least able to teach fine (in addition to other administrative duties), due to the tenured. But in the British system, since there is no tenure, what are the implications in such cases there?
    – John
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 21:30
  • 1
    @Chu, please don't force to make this as a discussion on 'age' and 'research activeness' issue. That's not my question nor I even implied something of that sort. Please read my question, edit and comment to your earlier comment and then respond if you have an answer.
    – John
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 17:00

4 Answers 4


To be a bit more specific:

ctokelly is correct to say that there is no mandatory requirement age, as this was indeed phased out, but from the UK Government website:

[S]ome employers can set a compulsory retirement age if they can clearly justify it.

In practice, this seems to vary from university to university. Oxford, for example, do set a compulsory retirement age for their staff. From their website:

Council has agreed to maintain a retirement age for university academic and academic-related staff[...] All existing members of academic and related staff who have a normal retirement date of 30 September immediately preceding the 66th birthday will be deemed, from 1 October 2011, to have a retirement date of 30 September preceding the 68th birthday, which shall be the EJRA.

Cambridge have a similar policy: see here and here.

Others, such as the University of London and York, seem not to.

In the other direction, UCL suggest that their employees may need to work until 65 to access their full pension. From their website:

Effective from 1 October 2011, there is no compulsory retirement age at UCL. Staff may voluntarily retire at a time of their choice, subject to providing appropriate notice. Many staff may continue to retire at their pension age (currently 65 years) because this is when they can access their full pension benefits although they have the choice to work beyond this age. Staff may be able to flexibly retire or retire before 65 years (normally accessing reduced pension benefits) depending on their pension scheme rules. (emphasis mine)

The answer seems to be, then, that it depends on the individual university. Oxford and Cambridge do seem to be in the minority in enforcing a mandatory retirement age; most universities stress in their policies that the age of retirement is a choice.

As to when academics actually do retire: I couldn't find any hard figures on this, although the general consensus for the UK across all job sectors is that people are choosing to work longer. I should imagine, however, that the default is still somewhere between the former mandatory age of 65, and the 67 or 68 set by Oxford and Cambridge.


In the UK there is no longer a mandatory retirement age because having one would be discriminatory on grounds of age under 2011 legislation. So you cannot be compelled to retire. In fact, the current generation tend to retire at 65 more or less because that's when their pensions can be fully realised.

Future generations of academics in their mid-60s may respond differently because they will have different (as in, less generous) pension structures.


In Ireland there is no statutory retirement age. That said, under the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 (see Section 34 for more detail) to 2011, it does not constitute discrimination on the grounds of age for employers to fix mandatory ages for retirement of employees so a university can fix a retirement age if it wishes.

Also the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 removed the compulsory retirement age for new entrants to the public service (covered some universities) with effect from 1 April 2004. This means that staff do not have to retire at the normal retirement age of 65.

Staff who are ‘new entrant’ on or after 1st April, 2004, the minimum retirement age is 65 years.

Staff who are deemed not to be ‘new entrants’ shall be entitled to hold office until the age of 65 years. However, a person may retire on reaching the age of 60 years

For an example of polices in some Irish Universities see here, here, and here.


The retirement age in New Zealand is, officially, the state retirement age of 65. The politicians are flip-flopping over raising this.

However, as far as I am aware there is no mandatory age of retirement. It's simply the age at which you are allowed to collect the state pension. Some professors continue working well into their seventies, just because they love their job.

  • What do you mean by official retirement age? Is it the compulsory retirement age in New Zealand?
    – John
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 16:44
  • 1
    Sorry. I see what you mean. By 'official retirement age' you may have meant the age when the state pension can get started, but one doesn't have to retire if they don't want to?
    – John
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 17:05
  • 1
    @John yes. The retirement age is the age at which you may collect the state pension. It is not compulsory to retire at this age. Only in very few occupations are compulsory retirement ages allowed or enforced.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 17:47
  • Do you see profs employed beyond 65 in new zealand? Or it is rare?
    – John
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 20:26
  • @John it's quite common I think to work for at least a few years after 65. I know of a few who are in their 70s and still teaching, but I'm not sure how much research they still do or what the level of pay is. Long story short: if you can still do your job, your age is irrelevant.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 20:50

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