In search of role models of successful academic retirement

Graham Crow*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Academics retire with varying degrees of enthusiasm or reluctance, as is apparent in a variety of data sources. Autobiographies and biographies of academics report diverse trajectories, from treating retirement as a fresh start to continuing or even intensified scholarly endeavour. Fractional contracts and flexible retirement ages in most United Kingdom universities have expanded the range of possibilities available to the latest generation of retirees. Survey and interview data collected recently from later-career and retired UK-based academics reveal broad support for continuing connections with academia, unpaid and paid, although universities’ facilitation of this was found to vary. The features characterising ideal retirement, notably continued intellectual stimulation and escape from entanglement in bureaucratic processes in a revised work-life balance that offers more space for families, friends, hobbies and volunteering were easier to identify than named examples of successful role models. Making a clean break from an academic role is rare, while uncertainty about the meaning of retirement is common.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalContemporary Social Science
    Early online date29 Sep 2021
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2021


    • higher education
    • retirement
    • role models


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