Open-access content 30th July 2012
Dr Ben Rickayzen reports on the Haberman Campaign, which raises funding for actuarial scholarships at the Cass Business School in London
30 JULY 2012 | DR BEN RICKAYZEN
The Haberman Campaign for Actuarial Science was launched two years ago to recognise the enormous contribution made to actuarial science worldwide by Professor Steven Haberman has and to pay tribute to him for his tireless efforts as a teacher and a scholar over the past 35 years at Cass Business School, part of City University, London. One of the key aims of this campaign is to raise much needed funding to support scholarships for undergraduate or postgraduate students who wish to study actuarial science or actuarial management at Cass.
The faculty of actuarial science and insurance at Cass Business School is one of the leading academic actuarial departments in the world, with highly respected degree courses and research. It comprises 23 staff, including eight qualified actuaries.
The faculty is involved in the teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, covering a large proportion of the professional actuarial qualifications. Given its proximity to the City of London, the faculty can use the wide network of professional contacts on its doorstep to enhance its research, teaching and external profile.
The research the faculty undertakes considers a range of theoretical and applied issues in pensions, life and general insurance, and healthcare. Particular avenues of research include as wide a range of subjects as insurance solvency, mortality and longevity modelling, risk management to pricing in competitive markets, dependency between risks, the impact of fair-value accounting on insurance, and the funding of social care. Much of the research undertaken by faculty has been instrumental in informing UK government policy, especially on healthcare issues.
Competition for places is intense. Each year, the faculty at Cass attracts more than 460 undergraduate applications and more than 200 applications for the MSc courses from across many countries including Australia, Kenya, China, Cyprus, Greece, India, Malaysia and the Caribbean. Each year, it accepts around 90 undergraduate and about 100 postgraduate students. The student population at Cass represents more than 100 nationalities, making the student experience there a diverse and multicultural experience.
Despite the demand for places, the faculty has no available funding of its own to support scholarships and research. Thus many talented students, while accepted onto the courses, cannot take up the offer to study because of financial considerations. Applications for financial support from both undergraduate and MSc level actuarial science students account for more than one-third of all such applications at Cass. Many of these are from students who come from emerging economies as well as, increasingly, from UK nationals. The scholarships that are available at Cass in general are open to all students applying to study any discipline, and thus competition for support is intense.
When a student does receive scholarship support, it can have life-changing benefits, as expressed by a recent scholarship graduate of Cass:
"Being awarded the Cullum/Towergate Scholarship to pursue a masters degree in actuarial science at Cass has been the single most important event in my life, and has helped me carve out my career.
"In the absence of this financial support, gaining a masters at one of the top schools in the UK in an expensive city such as London was, at best, a remote possibility. The scholarship not only eased a great financial burden on my parents but, equally significantly, it instilled in me a huge confidence to achieve academic excellence in return for the faith invested in me.
"I consider receiving this scholarship as one of my proudest achievements, especially when considering the lack of dedicated scholarships available for an actuarial degree. It is really up to our own actuarial community to support and nurture aspiring talent from around the world so that we can grow as a profession, not only in financially sophisticated countries but also in emerging economies such as India." (Niti Singh, Cass MSc)
The fundraising efforts on behalf of the campaign have been led by a UK executive campaign board made up of alumni of the faculty and chaired by Chris Daykin, a former government actuary and past president of the Institute of Actuaries. Under the Board's leadership, the campaign has raised support for four MSc scholarships and one undergraduate scholarship. The Campaign is still in full fundraising mode, and has some way to go to reach its target of £1m.
In addition, an overseas committee, comprising alumni based in a range of geographies, represent the Campaign in their specific regions. Over the past two years, Haberman has been invited by several local actuarial associations to give presentations to the professional actuarial communities in their regions. These visits have provided an opportunity for Cass to raise awareness of the campaign within the local alumnicommunities, as well as to encourage fundraising support for scholarships from these countries. The countries visited so far include Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and India, Malaysia and Singapore.
With the support of the many alumni of the faculty, and the partnership of companies and organisations that benefit from the skills that an education in actuarial science can provide, we could reach this target and make a difference to the lives of many more talented students, as well as to the economies to which they can, in time, contribute.
Those who have so far donated to the Haberman Campaign for Actuarial Science have expressed their enthusiasm for supporting this cause. Here are some examples of their words:
"As a former student and research assistant, I feel I have benefited greatly from the opportunities that Cass has provided me. Professor Haberman has shown tremendous dedication over the years in developing actuarial science at Cass, and it was an honour to be in a position to support the campaign" (Alen Ong, Cass PhD)
"Studying for a PhD is not an easy challenge. Professor Haberman made all of this more manageable for me. He supportedme when I needed help; he gave me direction and supervision when I required it. He also let me explore other areas, an, he let me make my own share of mistakes.
"Actuarial science offers many opportunities to satisfy your curiosity. Although it is often considered to be a specialised discipline, I found myself studying mathematics, probability and statistics, as well as economics, finance and computer science (which ultimately led me into a career path away from the actuarial world).
"It is for these reasons that I am proud to support Professor Haberman and his campaign, to contribute to it and to give back, in a tangible way, so that other students may have the same opportunity that I had." (Luigi Colombo, Cass PhD)
You, too, can make a difference - your support could provide someone with a successful future. Please contact: [email protected]
Dr Ben Rickayzen is head of the faculty of actuarial science and insurance at Cass Business School, City University, London