The new curriculum is coming; Chris Bristow explains why it has changed and what is different about it
Following discussions by the IFoA Council in 2015, work began on what has become known as Curriculum 2019. Working parties, focus groups, subject matter experts and our own qualified actuaries have been working hard to produce a new, revised and relevant curriculum that will prepare actuaries for the important, varied roles they undertake in business.
The actuarial landscape is constantly changing, and as your professional body, we must ensure that our qualifications meet those changes head-on. The role of an actuary is no longer typically mapped to our traditional areas of pensions and life insurance, although of course that is still where the majority of our membership works; however, we must also consider the evolving skill-set of our members who work in non-traditional areas such as health and care, investment, ERM and data science.
Curriculum 2019 serves to meet some of these demands. We held extensive consultation with employers, the academic community, international actuarial associations and, of course, our members, to ensure that we are hitting the mark in terms of the content of our qualification. We have restructured not only the outputs, but the teams that have been working on this project, to ensure the entire framework is relevant, modern and accountable to the needs of our members and the industries in which they work.
"The actuarial landscape is constantly changing, and we must ensure that our qualifications meet those changes head-on"
So what's new?
Introduction of module teams - these are made up of a module lead, subject matter experts, chief examiners supported by examiners, and the marking teams. They bring together experience and expertise from business and academia, and many are at the forefront of their professions. The structure also provides the flexibility to react quickly to any changes to the curriculum that may be needed. The days of long gaps between curriculum reviews are over. Being able to respond quickly is essential.
Content - in order to remain relevant, we have revised the content of our curriculum, making it relevant to a wider group of learners outside the UK and Ireland. While there has been some subject repositioning, we have tried to keep these to a minimum, and put in place transition arrangements where necessary.
New problem-based online assessments - in Core Statistics and Core Mathematics. These are very much focused upon application of knowledge in a practical setting using the statistical package 'R' and Excel. In many ways, these papers mirror what has been happening in universities. In the later subjects, we have been revising and updating the materials, with particular changes in the Investment and Finance area
New business modules - CT9 is replaced by CB3 to ensure that our actuaries are business ready. From 2019, the materials will have been updated and refreshed, while the assessment process will remain the same. We have decided not to use a three-hour examination paper, as we had previously indicated.
PPD - We have already introduced the new Personal and Professional Development (PPD) scheme, ahead of Curriculum 2019, which replaces Work Based Skills (WBS). This has been well received by employers and students alike, and aligns itself more closely with the CPD scheme that our qualified actuaries follow.
CP3 - In the same way that web brought forward the introduction of PPD, we brought forward CP3 to replace CA3. The key change has been the removal of the presentation element from the CA3 assessment, and an increase in the examination time. We have also introduced pre-reading scenario-setting materials ahead of the examination. The presentation now forms a compulsory element of the PPD scheme.
Over the next few months we will be looking at some of these changes and other developments more closely in The Actuary and on our website.
What do you need to know?
For those of you who are part of the way through the qualification process, you will have read, been briefed or attended one of the many roadshows and company briefings about the new curriculum. We have updated the Curriculum 2019 guide and a visual representation of the qualification structure is available on the Curriculum 2019 webpages.
What's in the Curriculum 2019 guide? The guide gives you a very detailed briefing on the subjects, the transition rules and the assessment process. This is a must-read for new students, and also for those part-way through the qualification journey. We have also produced a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help you with some of the queries you might have. Details of individual modules, how to access the core reading, and sample examination papers are all on the site.
For those of you who have already qualified, this information will be of passing interest, although you may wish to become more involved through the new module teams, or in the examination process.
What do employers need to know?
Our members' employers have seen the Curriculum 2019 guide, and many of the larger employers have taken advantage of briefings by the IFoA team. For employers, the transition arrangements and the impact on your actuarial employees have been important. We have recently shared with you the revised study hours, so that you can start to look at study packages. The learning team in the Oxford office is available to continue this dialogue and in the first instance employers should make contact with Kirstie Smith - [email protected]
Where can I find out more?
The website provides all the information that we believe you need to know. You can access it at www.actuaries.org.uk/studying/curriculum-2019.
If you wish to speak with one of our colleagues in Oxford, please contact Education Services by emailing [email protected] uk or calling +44 (0)1865 268 207.
Chris Bristow is head of Education Partnerships at the IFoA