Record in Professional
Since the start of its
actuarial programme, the University of Cape Town has produced more than 40% of
actuaries qualifying in South Africa.
The University of Cape
Town, founded in 1829 as the South African College, is South Africa's oldest
university and generally regarded as one of the top two universities in the
country. It is probably also one of the most beautifully situated universities
to be found anywhere.
A degree including
actuarial subjects was first offered by UCT in 1968. Initially this degree did
not provide exemptions from the professional examinations. In 1970, however,
the Actuarial Society of South Africa began negotiations for recognition of the
university's courses, and three years later agreement was reached on the
awarding of exemptions to students who obtained a satisfactory standard in the
relevant university subjects and for the degree as a whole. "Satisfactory"
was initially defined as 70% or above, but in 1988 the Institute and Faculty
agreed to reduce this requirement to 65%.
The Actuarial Science
Section at UCT came into being in the mid-1980s and - unusually for such a unit
- is part of the School of Management Studies within the Faculty of Commerce.
The Section offers the following degrees and diploma:
- Bachelor of Business
Science - a four-year first degree (somewhat unusual in South Africa - the
usual structure is a three-year bachelor's degree plus a further "honours
- BCom + BCom(Hons) - a
three-year degree with majors in Statistics and Actuarial Science, followed by
an honours year.
- Postgraduate Diploma in
Management (Actuarial Conversion Course) - a one - or two-year course intended
specifically for graduates of universities that do not offer actuarial courses,
to enable them to complete as many actuarial subjects as they can in a short
- Postgraduate Diploma in
Actuarial Science/MBusSc by coursework and dissertation - designed mainly to
prepare students for the ST-series subjects of the professional examinations.
This article concentrates
on the BBusSc degree and the performance of BBusSc graduates in the
The BBusSc degree
The standard degree
comprises 17 courses including three years of Statistics, two years of
Mathematics, two years of Economics, plus courses in Finance, Human Resource
Management, Marketing and Business Strategy. Experience has shown this degree
to be an extremely solid foundation for entrants to the actuarial profession
and our graduates have no difficulty finding employment upon graduation.
Successful students can
obtain exemptions from subjects CT1-CT8 and CA1 of the Joint Examinations of
the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and Subjects A101-A103, A201-A205 and
A301-A302 of the Actuarial Society of South Africa.
In total there are some
425 undergraduate students registered with the Section. Approximately 350 of
these are registered for the BBusSc degree. These numbers are as a result of
considerable increases in intake in recent years.
We tend to be rather
selective in our choice of first-year students: most of our students have seven
or more distinctions at Matric. Despite the high quality of this intake,
approximately a quarter of our first-year students do not progress to
second-year actuarial studies, most of them switching to other special fields
in the BBusSc degree, or to other degrees within the university.
Subsequent performance of
From past experience it appears
(see Figure 1) that approximately two-thirds of all our BBusSc graduates
qualify as actuaries. The comparable figure for all Heriot-Watt graduates
appears to be approximately 60%: see David Dickson's article in The Actuary