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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences

Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities have jointly launched a major new research initiative in which actuarial mathematics is prominent. The new Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences (www.maxwell.ac.uk) will pool all the research and postgraduate activity in three departments: the school of mathematics at Edinburgh, the department of mathematics at Heriot-Watt, and the department of actuarial mathematics and statistics at Heriot-Watt. Its first director, Professor Angus Macdonald, is an actuary.

The Maxwell Institute is one of five new joint research institutes that make up the Edinburgh Research Partnership (ERP), which has been awarded nearly £12m over the next four years by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Office of Science and Technology. This initial funding will support four new research posts and a number of research studentships in the Maxwell Institute.

The ERP is part of the SFC’s strategic plan for the future of research in Scottish universities, based on pooling excellent research in key subject areas to form larger, sustainable units, able to compete in the new environment of research assessment and concentration. In the research assessment exercise carried out in 2001, the departments that form the Maxwell Institute made the equivalent of five submissions, gaining one grade 5*, three grade 5, and one grade 4.

Actuarial and financial mathematics is a distinctive specialism within the Maxwell Institute, with its largest MSc course (in actuarial science, at Heriot-Watt) and one of the largest actuarial/ financial doctoral programmes in the world. In times when many universities are closing science departments, this initiative positions actuarial mathematics at the heart of one of the strongest research units in the UK.