The CIA promotes the advancement of actuarial science through research, provides and sponsors programs for the education and qualification of members and prospective members, ensures that actuarial services provided by its members meet extremely high professional standards, is self-regulating and enforces rules of professional conduct, and is an advocate for the profession with governments and the public in the development of public policy.
In light of these areas of focus and the changing business environment, the CIA has looked at how it will remain relevant for upcoming and future generations of actuaries, as well as how it will attract the best and brightest talent to the profession, to build a strong, and sustainable Institute over the long term.
The CIA’s approach to the education and qualification of members is critical to its relevance. The Institute has, in the past, relied heavily on the education and examination systems of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and Society of Actuaries (SOA) to qualify actuaries in Canada, supplemented with Canadian-specific content. The CIA values its long history of collaboration with its education partners and looks forward to continued cooperation and communication on all education matters.
However, Canada has very strong university-level actuarial programs that are underutilized by the profession. Canadian universities have a global reputation for excellence for the quality and rigour of their programs, and they are well-positioned to introduce leading-edge techniques and progressive research to advance the profession. In addition, some of the early professional exams represent a significant duplication of effort for university students in terms of examination content.
Accreditation programs have been used successfully in the United Kingdom (IFoA), Australia, and South Africa (ASSA), a fact that the CIA has acknowledged through mutual recognition agreements with the IFoA and Australia. The CIA took these programs into consideration when designing the University Accreditation Program (UAP) and credits those organizations for their hard work.
In addition, university education is routinely accepted as part of the certification process in other professions such as accountancy and engineering as well as the medical and legal professions. The CIA feels that the actuarial profession in Canada is well-suited for accreditation.
Academic instruction, combined with peer interaction in a classroom setting, provides the platform for the development of complex judgment skills, education in advanced topics such as stochastic modelling, enhanced written, verbal, and presentation skills, and the development of critical supervisory and management skills.
Preparation for actuarial exams is currently a self-study exercise. The CIA believes that a combined approach of university-based education for some of the early requirements, and the rigorous discipline of self-study for the later Fellowship requirements, supplemented with additional education and professional development, will strengthen the overall quality of actuarial candidates.
In summary, a diverse approach to actuarial education in Canada is valued. The accreditation process is designed to encourage the individual strengths of each accredited university and local variation in actuarial courses while ensuring that the CIA’s requirements for exemptions are met.
For the time being, accreditation will be available only on a course-by-course basis. A move to program accreditation would be made only if the benefits were clear and it would lead to an improved education model.
To understand the current state for the CIA University Accreditation Program, it is helpful to understand the history.
As early as 1970 the CIA recognized that preliminary actuarial examinations are a significant duplication of effort for students in Canada, and that Canadian universities could be better leveraged for actuarial education and examinations. In 2008, the Task Force to Recommend a Future Education Model for the CIA created a report on this topic.
The Institute revived this future education model initiative in 2009 and for a short time, the SOA, the CAS, and the CIA were involved in a joint accreditation committee.
In 2010, the CIA Board made the decision to proceed and established the following mandate:
To develop a Canadian model for University Accreditation Program (UAP) for actuarial exam exemptions that maintains a high calibre of actuarial candidates and which sets and enforces high standards in each accredited university and for every student in those accredited universities.
In 2011, the first round of universities (10) were approved for accreditation for courses effective fall of 2012. In 2013, an additional university was approved for accreditation effective fall 2013.