Age discrimination 'endemic in higher education'

11-09-2006

Academic posts at universities up and down the UK operate recruitment policies which are rife with age discrimination, a union leader is set to claim later today.

Sally Hunt, joint general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), will tell trade unionists at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Brighton that over-50s are being forced to feel "demoralised, undervalued and ultimately superfluous" by their employers.

"Higher education is marked by low pay and serious recruitment and retention difficulties in many subject areas," she will say.

"It is a sector which already recruits proportionately more 'older' staff than other industries and they must be treated better and their concerns acted upon."

A YouGov poll commissioned by the UCU supports Ms Hunt's opinions. Thirty-nine per cent of staff over 50 described their morale as poor or very poor, while 43 per cent said they would retire immediately compared to 18 per cent of those under 35.

"All too often it is this group that are the first to be considered for voluntary redundancy and little is done to consider their needs and how best to use their wealth of experience and knowledge," Ms Hunt said of the poll's findings.

"In a sector where age and wisdom have traditionally been synonymous, I cannot understand why universities are failing to treat their staff with respect they deserve."

Age discrimination is attracting headlines at present because new laws tackling the problem are set to be introduced on October 1st.


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