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Actuarial Science (BBusSc)

An actuary is trained to be a master of mathematics,probability, statistics and compound interest, particularly in relation to financial and demographic problems. A high degree of numeracy is required in order to manipulate figures efficiently and easily but this is not sufficient,for an actuary is required to extract and interpret the often hidden meaning behind figures.

There are at present about 500 qualified actuaries in South Africa, most of whom are employed in the life assurance industry or related areas, but there is a growing awareness that the skills and training of an actuary place him or her in a position to make a unique contribution to many other fields.

The profession is particularly suited to anyone who is willing to undertake several years of exacting study and has a well disciplined approach to problem solving.

Since the professional qualification is so demanding, the University will generally require an applicant to have obtained at least 80%for higher grade mathematics and an average mark above 70% with at least 60%for English (first language, higher grade).

In order to practise as an actuary in South Africa, one needs to be a Fellow of either the Institute of Actuaries (London), the Faculty of Actuaries (Edinburgh) or the Actuarial Society of America. To qualify as a Fellow of one of these bodies one needs to pass the examinations set by them.All studying is done by correspondence and before a South African student is allowed to enrol for the examinations he or she needs to obtain a high pass mark in first year university mathematics.

The University of Cape Town was the first university in South Africa to offer a degree specialising in Actuarial Science. This course has been designed to include much of the material covered by the early professional examinations and the successful student can expect to be exempted from a number of the professional examinations in addition to gaining a broad business qualification offered by a BBusSc degree.

The Actuarial Science section of the Department is the largest and most qualified in the country. It manages to attract over 200 new undergraduate students and about 50 postgraduate students each year. Studying these courses through the university also enables the student to attend lectures given by qualified staff rather than to have to study by correspondence. UCT graduates consistently achieve the greatest number of exemptions on average of any university in South Africa.

In addition the Actuarial Science section offers a Postgraduate Diploma/Masters in Actuarial Science. These courses cover the material in the remaining professional examinations and have greatly assisted in establishing Cape Town as one of the centres with the highest qualification rates in the world.

Another first for the section was the introduction of a Postgraduate Diploma in Management (Actuarial Conversion Course). This is an intensive one- or two-year programme, unique to South Africa, which has been specifically designed to provide exceptional graduates accelerated entry into an actuarial career from disciplines other than Actuarial Science.

Visit the Actuarial Department's Website