A Significant Education Initiative

By Jim Christie, FCIA

CIA President

By the time you read this article, you should have already seen an unofficial synopsis of the November 29, 2011 Board meeting in the weekly announcements and the official announcement of the Canadian universities which met the Institute’s criteria to participate in the University Accreditation Program (UAP).

To my mind the most exciting item that the Board discussed was the report from the Eligibility and Education Council endorsing our Accreditation Committee’s recommendations on which Canadian universities would be involved in the UAP. Congratulations to Université Laval, Simon Fraser University, Université du Québec à Montréal, and the universities of Waterloo (for both the undergraduate and master’s programs), Western Ontario, Manitoba, Regina and Toronto. I am particularly pleased to see the University of Manitoba in the list as 2012 will mark the centenary of its actuarial program.

Beginning in September 2012, students who take certain specified courses offered at these universities and achieve sufficiently high grades will be able to apply to the Institute for credits for some of the early exams in the FCIA syllabus. The material covered in an accredited course(s) will have to map directly to the syllabus of one of the current early exams. Specifically, credits will be available for exams FM/2, MFE, MLC/3L, and C/4 of the current syllabus that is jointly sponsored by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA).

Currently students will only be able to get exam credits leading to FCIA status. Both the SOA and the CAS have had observers on the Accreditation Committee, the CAS from inception and the SOA more recently. Both the SOA and CAS have now begun their own deliberations on whether to provide these Canadian students with similar exam credits leading to FSA and FCAS designations respectively. Obviously the UAP will be a much more attractive proposition for students if they can also get SOA or CAS exam credits. The Institute is hopeful that both organizations will make favourable decisions, particularly as they already provide similar exam credits for candidates from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The UAP will not replace traditional self-study examinations for the entry-level exams, but does recognize the strong calibre of the actuarial programs currently in place at eight of our Canadian universities. The traditional self-study examinations route will continue to be available for candidates attending other universities or for those who do not get the required grade on accredited courses. Indeed, those seeking UAP credits will have to pass the current Exam 1/P through the existing exam process before being eligible for them.

The program ties nicely with the Institute’s goal to get closer to actuarial candidates earlier in their careers. At present, largely because of the current exam system, most candidates relate much more closely to the SOA or the CAS in the early parts of their career. The UAP will also provide a good start for the Actuarial Networking Group being constructed as part of the Institute’s new Associate (ACIA) initiatives. The group will be a community for those interested in the Institute who do not yet meet the requirements to be an ACIA.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write me at president@actuaries.ca.

Jim Christie, FCIA, is President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.