The Academy

1. Objective

The objective of the ASSA Academy is to increase the number of Black South African actuaries.

2. Method

The Academy aims to enable every employed student to receive quality education in a facilitated environment that promotes:

  • Academic excellence;
  • Developing actuarial knowledge;
  • Acquiring appropriate business skills;
  • Personal development.

This is done via a collaborative partnership between employers, the Academy and employed students. Initial offerings focus on problem areas identified by an analysis of examination results and from interactions with key stakeholders.

Preliminary research is augmented by pilot schemes. Feedback from these schemes is used to adjust programmes, where necessary.

3. Role of the Academy

The Academy provides –

  • an environment in which stimulating, accessible and appropriate support can be delivered, with appropriate resources and facilities;
  • group and individual tuition to encourage academic achievement;
  • motivational sessions;
  • networking opportunities;
  • regular Academy reports to employers and individual students.

4. Operating Principles

The initiatives introduced by the Academy are open to all members, but South African Black students enjoy precedence in respect of admission and financial support. Other candidates will be considered if available resources permit this.

The Society has limited resources at its disposal, and the bulk of its financial resources is derived from members. Optimal utilisation of these resources requires, inter alia –

  • 4.2.1 Sound financial and other administration (e.g. tracking of students’ progress).
  • 4.2.2 Collaboration with other stakeholders, e.g. employers, SETAs, education providers, SAADP, ASABA, etc.
  • 4.2.3 Active participation by students, supported by formal participation agreements.
  • 4.2.4 Taking care to avoid volunteer fatigue.

Face-to-face sessions are be presented in both Gauteng and Cape Town, with access to some online support, e.g. copies of presentations, for those who cannot attend the face-to-face sessions.

While the ultimate goal is to see students pass their examinations, it is important for students to lead balanced lives in which academic, social, spiritual and physical aspects are integrated. The Academy supports this through appropriate training and motivational sessions.

The success or otherwise of the Academy is determined by the results of its students. Students who do not participate actively have a negative impact on the overall results and their participation will be terminated – see 4.2.3 above.

Participant feedback will be obtained on all interventions. Feedback will be considered and, where appropriate, incorporated in the programme. Feedback will be shared with employers, students and the Council of the Actuarial Society.

5. Interventions

These include workshops and/or “bootcamps” for Communications and Actuarial Risk Management. A bootcamp for Modelling is being developed as well.

Online support will be available in the Academy section of the Actuarial Society’s website. This will include paper-specific recordings, as well as recordings of more general sessions and workshops.

A small-group mentoring scheme is being introduced in 2017. This will be augmented by all-group sessions, where the small groups meet, discuss common problems and mingle. The all-group sessions will also promote peer mentorship.

Research by various parties has shown the need to address the articulation gap shown by actuarial science students between school and university and how that appears to perpetuate through the degree and into the workplace. This is a major contributing factor to the poor performance of, in particular, African students in the later (F series) examinations, where they have to argue, discuss, explain, etc.

An online programme is being developed in collaboration with UCT and will be launched in the third quarter of 2017.

6. Records

Records of initiatives, candidates’ performance and feedback are kept and analysed to develop and where necessary improve programmes.

7. Reporting

The Academy reports quarterly to Council. Feedback on Academy initiatives will also be provided at annual ATO breakfasts and may be included in the annual report of the Actuarial Society.

8. Contact

The Actuarial Society Executive responsible for the Academy is Wim Els – wels@actuarialsociety.org.za