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It's not FEM any more – an update on university accreditation

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By Rob Stapleford, FCIA


For some time the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) has been discussing the implementation of a Canadian university accreditation program, formerly known as the future education methods or FEM.

In May, the CIA Board reaffirmed its desire to proceed with the development of a Canadian-only accreditation program. A new CIA Accreditation Committee (AC) was formed and has been extensively reviewing the accreditation criteria and process with a view to a Canadian-only model.

During its review, the AC has looked at members’ perspectives regarding maintaining high standards for the actuarial profession in Canada, and the universities’ perspectives on the practical aspects of implementing such a system. It is important to note that the program’s goal is to enhance the actuarial profession by ensuring it continues to evolve and remain relevant for current and future actuaries. The accreditation program also strives to create a culture of partnership between the CIA and universities providing actuarial education in Canada. Canadian universities have a strong global reputation for their programs’ quality and rigor and the Institute is renowned for maintaining high standards for the profession. It makes sense, therefore, to collaborate.


By working together to build a course accreditation process for the preliminary actuarial examinations, the CIA and universities can directly influence and strengthen the quality of education for actuaries in Canada and make the travel time to obtaining the Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) more predictable, without compromising the quality of actuaries entering the profession.


Accreditation will allow universities to provide students with the option of applying to the CIA for exemptions, on a course by course basis, from some of the early examinations currently required to achieve the FCIA designation. The university course syllabus would have been previously approved by the Accreditation Committee, as would the university’s recommended pass marks.


For university students on their road to becoming a Fellow, obtaining exemptions through course accreditation would be an alternative to writing some of the preliminary multiple choice exams, with the exception of the Probability Exam. Passing the later SOA and CAS exams would still be required, as would be the additional requirements for Fellowship including modules and professionalism courses.

Gaining exam credits through university courses is not new to the actuarial profession. In fact, Canada and the U.S. are the only major countries with no formal involvement of universities in the actuarial education process; many other professions with education components leading to a designation have university participation in their certification process. For example, in the UK, Australia and South Africa, actuarial students can receive exam credits through university courses. Therefore, such accreditation for exam exemptions is not new, but it is new for Canada, and the CIA Accreditation Committee is taking this challenge seriously. A lot of work has been done, but there is much more to do to ensure the profession’s high standards are maintained.

The CAS has appointed a liaison representative to the CIA Accreditation Committee. The SOA has chosen not to appoint a liaison at this time.

The accreditation policy document was published in late October for review and comment by both members and universities. There is still time to provide your input as we will be accepting written comments until December 31, 2010. The original memo to members of the Institute can be found at: http://www.actuaries.ca/members/publications/2010/210073e.pdf
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The program’s draft policy can be found at: http://www.actuaries.ca/members/publications/2010/210072e.pdf
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Please send any comments or feedback to: accreditation@actuaries.ca.


Rob Stapleford, FCIA, is Chair of the Accreditation Committee.
 

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