Developing Good Practice in Managing Age Diversity in the HE Sector (2008)

Oxford Brookes University was awarded funding by HEFCE under the Leadership, Governance and Management Fund, to lead a project to help the HE Sector to develop good practice in managing Age Diversity. The HEFCE report on the HE workforce in England (2006) noted that although a lot of progress has been made in relation to equal opportunities in the sector, age is one of those areas where ‘the situation is not known’. Research commissioned by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) highlighted that ‘insufficient attention has so far being paid to age discrimination in the HE Sector’ (Parry and Tyson, 2007). Furthermore, a survey of HR Directors undertaken by the ECU in 2007 has shown that there is a lack of information about the average retirement age of staff, about their attitude towards retirement and that the monitoring of job applicants by age is patchy.
The aims of this project were:

  • To support HEIs in implementing the age discrimination legislation by understanding how to balance its requirements with other strands of equality legislation and develop age-neutral policies
  • To assist HEIs to gain an understanding of the likely impact of demographic changes in the HE sector workplace;
  • To support HEIs to develop good practice in managing age diversity effectively and improve succession planning
  • To identify innovative approaches to career management for older staff, flexible retirement and the use of positive action to increase age diversity
  • To bring about organisational cultural change on age-related issues

Oxford Brookes worked in partnership with UCEA, ECU, UPA, UCU, UNISON, the University of Aston, the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Staffordshire and delivered the following outputs:

  • A comprehensive audit of staff attitudes across the sector, reviewing a number of key age–related issues and the factors which influence staff attitudes towards career planning and retirement, (gender, ethnic origin and occupational differences are likely to be key factors).
  • Focus groups with academic and non academic staff that are responsible for managing other staff, including manual staff.
  • A resource guide illustrating examples of successful practice in managing age diversity.
  • Train the trainer sessions aimed at staff developers and Trade Unions to assist them to work in partnership with HEIs to promote good practice in managing age diversity

Conference: Developing good practice in managing age diversity in the higher education sector (2 December 2008)

Managing age diversity is a topical subject for the higher education sector. The Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice held its end of project dissemination conference to present the outcomes of the project.

This event provided a forum for academics, HE practitioners, and trade unionists to discuss age related issues for the sector, see presentations from the conference.