Just read this Guardian article, where it is suggested that Terry Eagleton may be forced to leave the University of Manchester on reaching the age of 65. The article approaches this from the angle of Eagleton's 'feud' with Martin Amis. While both these characters are employees of the University of Manchester, and therefore technically colleagues of mine, you're not likely to see them hanging around the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences. In the case of Amis, you're not that likely to see him in Manchester, given his contracted 28 hours a year (at £80,000).
While the 'feud' was moderately entertaining, I'm more interested in how all of this fits in with the university's 2015 plan. This is highly ambitious, and sees the university as one of the world's top 25 by 2015. One of the targets is, apparently arbitrarily, to employ five nobel laureates by 2015. I'm a little cynical, and wonder if the university was taking a bit of a gamble on Amis winning the Nobel in the near future. Certainly, Amis is a high-profile addition to the university, but could that £80,000 a year have been better spent than on 28 hours work and some (not entirely positive) publicity?
Eagleton, whether you agree with him or not, also enjoys a high profile. Surely it can't be smart for the university to force him out at 65. I get the impression that universities in other countries will look askance at an institution that discards a professor decribed as "the best internationally known literary critic this country currently can boast" in such a cavalier fashion. Certainly, the work of my department is enhanced by the presence of eminent scientists who are long past the retirement age.
While 5 Nobel laureates would be a nice headline figure, it's not at all clear to me that it will improve the research and teaching at the university, especially if those nobel laureates only work 28 hours a year.