2021 CAS University Award Winner – University of New South Wales

University of New South Wales LogoThe University of New South Wales’s (UNSW) actuarial science program has sixteen actuarial faculty members and 1,159 actuarial students. The university impressed the judges with its focus on property and casualty insurance across curriculum, research, and industry engagement.  

Program Highlights:

  • UNSW offers innovative degree programs combining actuarial science, data analytics, and computer science, including artificial intelligence. These programs were developed in response to student and market demand, especially within the P&C industry, for actuaries with additional training in data science and computer science. Their actuarial courses provide a theoretical framework and practical application of important topics in property and casualty industries.
    • Their course on Actuarial Data Analytic Applications includes state of the art statistical machine learning techniques and practical case studies. A group assignment and discussion questions via a Story Wall related to solving business problems were designed, including one on auto-insurance pricing in the context of COVID-19, with regard to the claim management process.
    • They also have a required Data Visualization and Communication Course which introduces statistical and visualization tools for the exploratory analysis of data. It helps students build the ability to present visual access to the huge amount of data that business create, an essential skill for any analyst.
  • For the last five years the school has engaged in the UNSW process of Digital Uplift/Inspired Learning initiative, leading to substantial development of digital learning expertise within the school and students. Further accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, the teaching is highly digital-enable revolving around:
    • Flipped and blended delivery pedagogy: a teaching approach which combines the best aspects of asynchronous teaching (e.g. short videos, readings) with synchronous teaching (active problem solving with students). This approach is used in all technical actuarial courses in the school.
    • Formative assessments using the StoryWall approach to facilitative formative, peer-to-peer learning, based around learning outcomes and authentic, real-world problem solving.  
  • UNSW has offered Co-op program since 1995, the first university in Australia to do so. The program combines university study with practical on-site employment, and they employ a Professor of Practice to enhance linkages between the university and industry thinking. The Co-op sponsors for 2020 include major property and casualty companies in Sydney.
  • UNSW is involved in numerous research projects in the area of property and casualty. UNSW recently completed a large ARC Linkage project (2013-2020) with three P&C industry partners, Allianz, IAG, and Suncorp. They jointly studied modelling claim dependency between lines in the general insurance industry with economic capital in view: an innovative approach with stochastic processes. This joint research project has resulted in more than 20 publications in A/A* (ABDC list) rated journals. Work from the above that have been particularly noted for the impact on the industry includes a simple theoretical framework that enables them to explain how and why correlations can be illusory, studied in the paper "Correlations between insurance lines of business: An illusion or a real phenomenon? Some methodological considerations".
  • UNSW fosters connections to the property and casualty industry through established that enhance students’ understanding of the industry and facilitate their skills in complex applications of their knowledge. They invite external speakers and guest lecturers to complement their learning and teaching.
  • The program also offers innovative programs for women including the Girls in Business Digital Camp designed to raise their female student profile across banking and finance, information systems and actuarial studies. They target female students in years 10 and 11 to take math at more advanced levels and provide them with various experiences including group tasks, site visits, and networking with UNSW students, alumni, and industry professionals. They also have a Women in Business Ambassador Program launched in 2020 to contribute to gender diversity and increase female participation in actuarial studies and information systems at UNSW Business School. A female undergraduate is selected to attend career advisor days, support Girls in Business Camp, and their high school outreach work.

"We are delighted to be selected as a 2021 CAS University Award winner! To prepare our students for a career in the property and casualty insurance industry, we have continually innovated in both curriculum and teaching pedagogy - examples include the embedding of machine learning and data analytics as a core skillset for our actuarial graduates, innovative synchronous and asynchronous teaching pedagogies, as well as the introduction of a very successful new dual degree program combining actuarial and computer science/AI. Our innovations have been facilitated and informed via our close collaboration - in both teaching and research - with P&C industry partners and professional associations. We are very pleased that our efforts and accomplishments are recognised by the CAS and we will continue to work on enhancing our program and contributing to the further development of actuarial science and the actuarial profession."

- Jae Kyung (JK) Woo, Associate Professor, Ph.D., University of New South Wales

University of New South Wales Photo