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Establishing the potential roles of retired academics at UKZN.

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Universities around the world are facing a critical stage in their lifecycle in which academics are aging and many are ready to retire. These academics are being replaced by younger, more enthusiastic counterparts who are still craving for work and recognition. However, these new recruits come with their own challenges, as they often have less experience and find it difficult fitting into the shoes of their more experienced, now retired, colleagues. Universities also find it difficult to manage their high level of professional output and status once these aging academics retire and are replaced. However, getting these retired academics to perform certain roles can assist in addressing some of these concerns. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the study setting, currently faces similar challenges. The objective of this study was: to establish the potential roles that retired academics could perform at UKZN; to identify the benefits of these retired academics being active; as well as determining the effect of engaging them. A qualitative exploratory study was conducted on a group of 12 respondents, ranging from active academics to active retired academics, and selected using snowball sampling. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews. Findings reveal that there are multiple roles that retired academics could perform at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which include academic, mentoring and financial roles. These roles were found to be vital for the optimum and long term survival of UKZN. Results also show that the engagement of retired academics could help active academics with the development of the curriculum and the publication of research papers. Through the successful achievement of the purpose of the study and the research objectives, the study provided the basis and recommendations for determining the potential roles for retired academics that would benefit the university and the retired academics involved. Regardless, a more concrete and scientifically sound solution regarding potential roles for retired academics in academia may still be explored.


Master’s degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.