Actuarial Science or Quantitative Finance?
These two programmes are offered by the same department and
have a large number of subjects in common. The first 2 years of study are
currently almost identical and we are working to make them completely aligned
in the near future.
The Actuarial Science degree focuses on producing qualified
actuaries. Most actuaries in South
Africa are employed by; insurance companies, as consultants managing company
pension schemes, in healthcare and general insurance companies and also in
investment management companies. Actuaries have an important role in these
institutions. Students who graduate
within this stream will be particularly well prepared for further study to
obtain the FASSA (Fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa) designation
from the Actuarial Society of South Africa, or an equivalent overseas designation.
Students who meet the demanding standard can obtain exemptions from some
two-thirds of the professional examinations.
You can visit the following websites to get more information on the
various qualifications: www.actuarialsociety.co.za and www.actuaries.org.uk.
The Quantitative Finance stream was introduced in response
to the demand from merchant banks, investment managers and other financial
organisations for graduates able to use analytical and numerical techniques to
price financial derivatives and to manage investment portfolio risks. This
degree covers much of the material included in the actuarial stream but courses
specific to life insurance and pension schemes are replaced by additional finance
and risk management courses.
At the most fundamental level, quantitative finance is more
concerned with assets while actuaries focus more on liabilities. The boundaries
between these professions are however blurring, as both actuaries and quants
head into wider fields and carve out roles for themselves in an ever widening
range of industries.
Further Study and Career Choice
The FASSA and equivalent qualifications require further
part-time study after graduation, which is normally undertaken by
correspondence with the support of an employer. UCT provides post-graduate
courses to prepare students for these examinations and it is possible for
students to obtain exemptions from most of them.
Students from both streams will be particularly well
prepared for further study to obtain the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
qualification from the USA, which has become the worldwide qualification for
investment managers. The CFA also requires further part-time study by
correspondence, usually with the support of an employer.
The knowledge and skills provided by both undergraduate
degrees is highly valued by a range of other employers. Many of our outstanding graduates choose
unorthodox career paths as they follow their interest in a particular field.
Why study at UCT?
UCT was the first University in Africa to set up a course to
produce qualified actuaries. Our strong past record of success at producing
qualified actuaries has allowed the department to attract the best students and
staff with outstanding professional qualifications and experience.
Our approach is practical: students are encouraged to think
through real world problems and are thereby equipped with many practical skills
that go beyond pure actuarial and quantitative techniques. We aim to produce
well-rounded professionals ready for the workplace.
UCT has produced more qualified actuaries than any other
university in Africa and our analysis of performance in the professional
examinations indicates that our graduates are more likely to qualify than those
from other institutions in South Africa.
Students within our programme are often able to obtain
bursaries from employers especially after they establish a good track record in
our examinations. We recommend that
students apply for financial aid (and accommodation) well in advance of the
closing dates even if they are not sure that they will need it.
Students from previously disadvantaged communities
At present the overwhelming majority of actuaries and
financial analysts are white males.
However, our programmes are producing increasing numbers of female and
non-white graduates. We expect this to continue due to the quality of the
students we attract, the design of the programmes and the financial support of
the insurance industry.
In addition we are hosting an Actuarial Society of South
Africa initiative to provide specialist counselling and support for all our
students. Email Irene Petrony at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more details.
UCT also cooperates with the South African Actuarial
Development Programme (SAADP) that specifically targets previously
disadvantaged students for bursary and support programmes. Email Billy
Enderstein at Billy.Enderstein@uct.ac.za
for more details.
The flexibility within the programme allows students to
progress at different rates and many choose the option of completing their studies
over an additional year.
It is well worthwhile to visit the UCT website at www.uct.ac.za where you will find contact
details for possible financial support, fees, deadlines and residences.
Application forms can also be downloaded directly. A wealth of detailed
information can be found at http://www.commerce.uct.ac.za/managementstudies/actuarialscience
Apply online on http://www.uct.ac.za/apply/welcome/english/. In addition application forms are available
from the Central Admissions Office, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3,
Rondebosch 7701. The closing date for the receipt of completed forms is 30
September, and the closing date for financial aid applications is 31 October.
However we encourage you to apply when applications open in mid April and to
take the NBT tests as early in the year as possible.