Demand for raising retirement age for university, college teachers gets louder

The government decision to raise the age limit for appointing assistant professors has emboldened teachers’ organisations, including the Le...

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The government decision to raise the age limit for appointing assistant professors has emboldened teachers’ organisations, including the Left-aligned ones, to demand a commensurate increase in retirement age of university and college teachers in the State.

While the teaching community has called for adopting norms fixed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for superannuation, the issue could invite the wrath of youth organisations that have fiercely opposed such proposals in the past.

The move to increase the age ceiling for teacher appointment (to 50 years for assistant professors) was lapped up by the teaching community, cutting across political affiliation. However, the decision has posed a new challenge for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government by way of a growing clamour to increase retirement age to 65 years in line with the UGC regulations. This, the organisations contend, is necessary to exploit the potential of the hike in the appointment age.

Utilising expertise

Federation of University Teachers’ Associations general secretary S. Nazeeb says the universities are unable to utilise the valuable expertise of faculties beyond 60 years. The lack of senior professors has taken a toll on the continuity of research pursuits. Such a plight could also befall the translational research centres and the science parks mooted by the government, he added.

Referring to criticism that increasing retirement age could pose a threat to job aspirants, Dr. Nazeeb said the imminent launch of the tenure track system would usher in a system by which freshers are granted permanent employment after five years on the basis of their performance. By then, the extended service period of the respective sets of teachers would come to an end.

‘Remove disparities’

Besides seeking steps to raise the retirement age, All Kerala Private College Teachers Association president Jogy Alex demanded steps to remove disparities in service conditions in the higher education sector by enforcing a uniform superannuation age in colleges and universities. Currently, college teachers who joined service before the introduction of the contributory pension scheme in April 2013 retire at 56 years, while the others could prolong their service till 60 years.

The teaching community say that extending the retirement age of professors will enable more students to undertake research. In line with the UGC norm that bars teachers from guiding new research scholars three years prior to their superannuation, a college teacher who came within the ambit of the statutory pension scheme can only accept PhD scholars until 52 years.

The Shyam B. Menon-chaired Commission for Reforms in Higher Education had also recommended parity in salary scales, service rules and retirement age of university and college teachers in Kerala with that in Central universities. This will enable the State to attract distinguished teachers and researchers from universities outside Kerala, the commission had stated.

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