Why don’t we benefit from our retired academics?



WHEN I was studying for my master’s degree, I remember reading books written by an Egyptian professor. I asked around about him and I found out that he had been retired more than 15 years ago, but he maintained an office at the University of Cairo, where he went every Monday to meet with his research team, the students he supervised and anyone who wanted his advice.

I went there to meet the acclaimed professor. When he arrived, he could barely walk to his office. I introduced myself and told him the reason behind my visit. Then we discussed the issue that I was having trouble with.

After we left his office I asked the professor, who accompanied me, about the situation of retired academics such as him in Egypt. How are they rewarded? What is their relationship with the university? He told me that those academics spent their time in scientific research in the university and they get paid whenever they publish new research. In addition, the university assign them to supervise research students, especially the ones studying for their PhDs.

Most of the work in publishing their studies were done by their research teams, students or university employees, who took down notes dictated by the academics. This teams then wrote the research papers, revised and edited them before reading them out to the academics in their final form. Then it was up to the academics to suggest changes they wanted or edit portions before the work finally went for publication.

When the work hit the shelves, the university would take a portion of the financial proceeds and the academic would have a share after deducting the costs. So don’t be surprised if you see five excellent published works by the same author in the one year alone.

I want to ask our minister of education and university administrators why we do not benefit from the expertise of our retired academics in the field of scientific research away from lecture halls. It may be difficult for the academics after reaching the retirement age to go back into lecturing, but why are we not making use of their expertise to help new lecturers and professors to progress in their academic career? Why are they not asked to supervise PhD students and hold discussions with them? Why isn’t there a place for them in a specialized research center established by our universities and why don’t we sign up a research team under their supervision.

If we did, this will enhance our scientific research and we will have a more qualified generation of academics. A book will have its own value and universities will have their own distinctive publications in many specializations.