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CAS to Recognize Canadian Institute of Actuaries' University Accreditation Program Exam Exemptions

09/05/2012 —

In December 2011, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) announced its inaugural list of universities accredited under the CIA’s University Accreditation Program (UAP). Beginning in September 2012, students who have successfully completed specific courses at approved universities will have the option of applying to the CIA for exemptions for Exams 2/FM, 3F/MFE, 3L, SOA Exam MLC, and 4/C. Consistent with the CAS waiver policies for examinations, the CAS Board of Directors has approved the recommendation of the CAS Executive Council and the Education Policy Committee that the CAS recognize the exam waivers granted by the CIA for CAS preliminary examinations.

The new CAS waiver policy only applies to credits granted through the CIA for courses at accredited Canadian universities. It is important to note that these waivers will not be extended to universities in the U.S. The diversity of education in U.S. universities makes a similar accreditation and waiver process difficult to manage and evaluate in the necessary depth that is required for such a rigorous program.

In March 2010, the CAS Board approved a resolution that would allow the CAS to grant waivers for CAS exams to those who would have been granted exam credit through the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA), subject to review and recommendation by the CAS Education Policy Committee (EPC) and approval by the Executive Council (EC). These waivers, if granted, would be similar to the waivers currently granted for examinations of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (U.K.), the Actuaries Institute (Australia), and the Institute of Actuaries of India.

Following the CIA announcement, a comprehensive review of the program by the EPC, and approval by the EC, the CAS has decided to recognize exam credit granted by the CIA under its University Accreditation Program. The decision was the culmination of a multi-year process that involved the CAS working with and monitoring the CIA’s development of policies, procedures, academic standards, and evaluation of universities and individual courses to ensure that the standard for exam waivers would be at least as rigorous as an actuarial exam. Because of the rigorous process followed by the CIA and affirmed by the EPC, the Executive Council agreed that granting these waivers does not endanger the quality of the CAS education process or the value of CAS credentials. Ongoing review of the requirements in the future will ensure that this rigorous process is maintained. Documentation of the CIA Accreditation Process is attached in the Appendix of the CIA's announcement. The process is thorough and quite rigorous.

A summary of the activities undertaken by the EPC to determine the viability of waivers follows.

The EPC was kept apprised of the ongoing work of the CIA UAP through our liaison to the CIA's Accreditation Committee. In December of 2011, the EPC was informed that the Accreditation Committee had completed its initial review process and had approved eight universities. Subsequently two additional universities were approved by the CIA.

The EPC created an accreditation review subcommittee to review and evaluate in depth the CIA’s policies, standards, and processes related to the UAP. The subcommittee was not charged with reviewing the waiver policy approved by the Board; rather, it was asked to evaluate the CIA program within the context of the existing CAS waiver policies for examinations. The EPC requested and received relevant documents as part of its review. During January and February 2012, the subcommittee reviewed the material provided by the CIA and came to a consensus recommendation that was presented to the full EPC.

The EPC held a teleconference in February 2012 to discuss the findings of its accreditation review subcommittee. Derek Freihaut, the chairperson of the EPC, reported that the subcommittee was comfortable that the CIA’s UAP meets the requirements for syllabus coverage and handling of grade levels, and addresses concerns about grade inflation. After discussion, the EPC approved the following motion with a vote of five in favor, none opposed, and two abstentions: “that the Canadian Institute of Actuaries’ University Accreditation Program waiver process would meet the requirements to grant waivers for CAS exams. We recommend that the CAS assign a liaison to the CIA process. We recommend that there be a requirement of a follow-up review by the Education Policy Committee within three years of approval.”

The CAS Executive Council subsequently approved the EPC’s recommendations by unanimous vote during its July 2012 meeting.

To gain CIA exemptions, students will submit official transcripts to the CIA showing they have achieved the minimum grade requirement (which varies by University), along with an application and 80% of the corresponding CAS/SOA exam fee.

The CAS decision is consistent with the spirit of the current waiver policy to grant exam waivers based on exams of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (U.K.), the Actuaries Institute (Australia), and the Institute of Actuaries of India, where the CAS recognizes credit given for exams waived based on university exams that are closely monitored and evaluated by those actuarial societies.

For further information on receiving credit for exam waivers through the CAS, please contact the Actuaries' Resource Center (arc@casact.org or 703.276.3100).

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