Skip to main content

You are here


Pandemic Ills in Higher Education Could Affect Retirement


The pandemic’s ill effects go beyond the obvious and literal, and include its impact on employment—which can affect retirement readiness. A recent study finds that the pandemic is pushing many faculty members at institutions of higher learning to consider retiring early, which would have an effect on their retirement savings and how they finance retirement.

Fidelity Investments and The Chronicle of Higher Education found in a recent study that more than half of the more than 1,100 college and university faculty they surveyed are considering leaving teaching—and cite the effects of the pandemic as the reason. “Faculty at colleges and universities have faced a significant amount of change around their roles and work environments,” says Fidelity; the result, they say, is that 55% of those surveyed responded that they have “seriously considered” changing careers or bowing out of the workforce entirely and retiring early.  

A majority are ready to jump ship from higher education or the workforce because: 

  • The percentage of faculty that are angry, stressed and fatigued doubled from 2019 to 2020. 
  • Work/life balance has worsened for faculty members of both genders; however, the toll on female faculty members has been especially heavy, since they may be experiencing additional responsibilities for caring for children and/or elderly family members.
  • Career satisfaction is low. Even among tenured faculty, 40% report low job satisfaction, and 35% say they are considering trying another career. In fact, the dissatisfaction is higher among those tenured than among the rest of the faculty. 

Fidelity reports that many institutions of higher learning are considering how they can help faculty the benefits they offer. Furthermore they argue that “data-driven insights and analysis” can help schools: (1) recognize trends among their employees and understand their behavior; and (2) provide benefits that will support faculty members’ overall well-being, including their financial health, which can help schools provide resources by which faculty can address their specific needs. And that, in turn, will also be beneficial for the institutions, they suggest.