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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Do the math and get started

Having earned a reputation for its Actuarial Science programme in the UK, Heriot-Watt university is all set to launch the course at its Malaysian campus in September.

ONLY those with a deep love for Mathematics should take up Actuarial Science as a career.

Specialists in the field need to assess risk in finance, insurance and other industries and the application of Mathematics which is inadvertently related to problem-solving and analysis, is a must.

Heriot-Watt University Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics teaching fellow and director of studies John Phillips says that when signing up for a course in Actuarial Science, the most important factor is that the student needs to be “exceedingly good at Maths”.

“You must have a passion for Mathematics and be a natural problem solver,” he reiterates. Being also the admissions tutor for the varsity’s School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Phillips teaches Probability and Statistics — subjects that are part of the course.

When asked if he loves teaching, he says in his native Scottish accent, “Oh, yes!” He beams with pride as he talks about the confidence students have at the end of the semester after acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge.

One component of the class that he teaches is computing which he says can be difficult for students to master.

“At the beginning they say, ‘oh, we’re never going to understand this’,” adds Phillips, but by the end of the course, the students became adept at using the programme. He loves teaching as it allows him to see the transitions the students make.

The scotsman is one of the several committed lecturers that Heriot-Watt University has in their Actuarial Science programme, many of whom are qualified actuaries.

“We have such a dedicated team of lecturers and staff,” says Phillips, adding that many of the lecturers still have connections to people in the industry.

Heriot-Watt University was the first university in the United Kingdom (UK) to offer Actuarial Science and needless to say, the programme has earned a name for itself.

It is one of a few universities offering the course that is fully accredited by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the professional body that governs the actuarial credentials and exam process in the UK.

It helps, of course, that Heriot-Watt University is in Edinburgh, Scotland, which he says is a great location as the city is a financial hub.

The programme draws students from all over the world, including Malaysia, which is why, from September, the university will be conducting Actuarial Science courses at the Malaysian campus in Putrajaya.

These courses will be at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

“We have many Malaysian students and that was one of the reasons why we decided to launch the programme here,” says Phillips, during a visit to Malaysia.

Phillips says the courses conducted in Malaysia will be the same as that offered in Edinburgh.

“The courses are identical. The same teaching materials used in the Edinburgh campus will be used in Malaysia as well,” he says, adding that this would make it possible for the students to transfer between campuses with ease.

Although not open for enrolment yet, students keen on furthering their studies in Actuarial Science can register at the university or visit www.hw.ac.uk/malaysia.htm.

Tags / Keywords: Education , Heriot Watt , actuarial science , funding , higher education


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