Report proposes raising lecturer retirement age to 70

A report commissioned by the higher education union Syndicat Autonome de l’Enseignement Supérieur, or SAES, has called for the raising of the age of retirement for university lecturers and recruitment drives as the higher education system struggles with higher student numbers and ageing lecturers.

The age profiles of university teachers detailed in the report were worrying, reported Sud Quotidien of Dakar, which showed that for 2017 and 2018 the numbers reaching the retirement age of 65 were 75 and 107 respectively, and a total of 481 were due to retire by 2025.

At the country’s leading university, Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, or UCAD, 83 lecturer-researchers retired in 2016, half of whom were senior academics.

Efforts have been made to recruit more teachers, but the average age of the workforce was nearly 50, reported Sud Quotidien. According to the SAES report, senior academics qualified to teach and supervise PhD and masters students were heavily concentrated in the oldest age group of 55-65 years.

Many of them reached retirement age while their students were still in the course of their studies, and annual contracts which they could take up to continue their supervisory role were not enough for them to continue their involvement, said the report.

It concluded that raising the retirement age to 70 years would fill the supervision deficit, and calculated the measure would mean an extra 129 teachers would remain in the universities.

Interviewed by Sud Quotidien, Malick Fall, secretary general of SAES, said the deficit was serious. “UCAD has exceeded its capacity. There are 100,000 students and 1,500 teachers of whom fewer than 50% are authorised to supervise theses. That’s also the case in the other public universities where Dakar colleagues visit to carry out supervision.”

He said recruitment was insufficient, with 70% of lecturer-researchers employed on a temporary basis. “This was under an agreement made with the government. We are witnessing a ‘temporarisation’ of higher education. Our idea is to reverse this situation so 70% of teachers would be tenured. That’s what led us to propose to the state turning the overtime into full posts,” said Fall.

He said SAES had proposed raising the retirement age which for academics had remained the same, while for workers in other sectors it had been raised. He pointed out that in other countries, such as Niger and Morocco, university teachers retired at 70.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.