THE INTRODUCTION OF UNIVERSITY-BASED ACTUARIAL EDUCATION IN CANADA: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS Keywords: Canada, actuary, university-based education, the UAP, the CIA.
For the time being, there are several ways in Canada, following which it is possible to gain the status of a qualified and recognized actuary. The first one implies university studies with a major in actuarial science plus the requirement to set several professional exams (the probability exam and several other modules). The alternative way to enter the profession is from educational background in math or finance and economics. In this case it is compulsory to take a complete series of the actuarial exams to certify your competence. Regardless of the way you choose, the main regulative bodies in actuarial education in Canada are North American professional organizations: the Society of Actuaries – theSOA, the Casualty Actuarial Society – theCAS, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries – TheCIA. The former two are based in the USA. Since the CIA hasn`t elaborated its own examination system yet, it uses the SOA`s or the CAS`s one with the requirement to take the nation specific exam. Gaining membership and the corresponding designations (a Fellow, an Associate or the CERA) is the ultimate goal of the long and challenging educational process.
It is worth mentioning that a university-based approach to actuarial education is a new feature in Canada`s system of their professional training. In 2011 the Canadian Institute of Actuaries announced the decision on the introduction of an alternative way to the actuarial profession, according to which, since September 2012 the number of universities approved by this professional association has been offering training courses at the end of which students can apply to the CIA for the exemption from a number of written professional examinations administered by the SOA / CAS and being an essential component of membership in the Canadian Institute of actuaries (a Fellow or an Associate). The basic principles of accreditation and governance, the minimum requirements that have to be met by accredited higher education institutions and students` academic performance are laid out in the University accreditation program – the UAP.
The need for such a step arises from opening up new possibilities for the development of the profession, such as attracting talented young people. It may be a great incentive for perspective students to opt for the career in actuarial science, primarily because university settings provide much more predictable route for becoming an actuary and spare the prospects the piles of self-study they have to go through provided they choose an exam-based system. Besides, academic environment can contribute to building a stronger system of training in actuarial science, due to the opportunity to apply methodology, conceptual and categorical framework of research peculiar to universities to the profession.
However, the process of establishing actuarial university education is rather long, includes a large number of components and has been criticized a lot. The main obstacle on the way to the UAP implementation is the assumption that by transferring educational process to universities, the CIA faces the risk of devaluing the SOA credentials, reducing the standards of actuarial education.
In our humble opinion, these concerns have no basis behind them as the exemptions are granted for students on the course -by -course base, which means that their progress in every subject can easily be traced and it is academic performance that serves as a determining factor in relation to whether a student can get the credit for the preliminary exams. Such an approach opposes the accreditation policies used in many other countries when a program itself or a degree earned are considered to be sufficient validation of alumni` s adequate level of preparation.
Besides, the grades requirements are stringent enough, which was undoubtedly intended for maintaining high standards of university actuarial education. Thus, the minimum established grade is at least 70/ B and higher (some courses require 90/ A). Such demanding requirements can be a challenge even for top-performing students. We may also say that such an approach prevents the over-influx of those willing to take university courses, keeping the number of university- and exam- based candidates in balance. This is evidenced by the statistics “an overall average passing percentage for the UAP of 36.5% across all 11 accredited universities, which we observe to be lower than the overall passing percentage on SOA preliminary exams” .
Furthermore, the accreditation requirements to the syllabi are not any less rigorous. The coverage of the required syllabus has to be at the level of 85 per cent or more. The compliance with the syllabus mapping should be 100 % ; universities where these figures are lower are obliged to provide the details on what material relevant to the profession is used to compensate for the difference.
One more principle peculiar to the UAP is that it is planned and implemented taking into account all the range of facilities and tools that are required to master the courses, skills and knowledge. Therefore, students taking the courses in accredited universities still have to take exams in Probability and Models for Stochastic Processes and Statistics (CAS candidates only) and there are no any equivalents to Fellowship credits available. The above mentioned exams were not included in the UAP because “the majority of required courses are taught outside the actuarial science department, and are therefore beyond the scope of monitoring by the CIA and the accreditation actuary (AcA) in each university” .
The process of the UAP implementation is also characterized by the principles of internal administration (the appointed actuaries being members of university faculty constantly keep in contact with the CIA keeping the professional body informed about all the changes and the state of things in a university), external administration (visits of annual external examiners and formal and informal inspections of the Eligibility and Education Council (EEC). The aim of such a two-level monitoring system is to ensure that the educational process is organized in compliance with all the regulations, outlines and best practices.
In conclusion we may say that in many ways Canada is the first country in North America which is now actively trying to bring the profession of an actuary into academic environment. The reasons for implementing such measures are obvious: university settings open wide prospects for research activities as well as provide more predictable way for becoming a recognized actuary as compared to its alternative of going through the set of the exams established by the professional bodies. By integration of formal and informal actuarial education into a single whole it is possible to strengthen the profession. However, the main obstacle on the way to success of the UAP is the assumption that by shifting educational process to universities we are reducing professional standards. Under such circumstances the UAP policy is characterized by stringent selection criteria as for the syllabi, course outlines, faculty members, minimum exemption grades etc.
CIA University Accreditation Program Policy [Electronic resource] // Canadian institute of actuaries. – 2011. – p. 22. – Access mode : http://www.actuaries.ca/members/publications/2011/211059e.pdf
Rollo Alicia A Rigorous Piece of the CIA Education System [Electronic resource] / Alicia Rollo. – Access mode : http://www.naylornetwork.com/cia-nwl/articles/index-v4.asp?aid=317058&issueID=39447
CO-OP PROGRAMS AS A MEANS OF PROFESSIONAL SOCIALIZATION OF FUTURE HEALTH INFORMATICS SPECIALISTS IN CANADA Keywords: co-op programs, health informatics specialists, post-secondary education, professional socialization.
Today’s social and economic situation in the world sets new tasks before education. It demands a new generation of professionals that are able to be not only highly competent in their area of expertise but also mobile, team-work oriented, socially active and ready to respond quickly to constant changes in their profession. Employers search for professionals that need minimum time for professional adaptation at a work place, that are ready for long-life learning and are highly motivated. These are the qualities of specialists that are professionally socialized upon graduation. Therefore, higher educational institutions use the vast majority of means to complete the new trending demand. Various innovative educational techniques, combination of different learning methods, apprenticeship programs etc. are in the long list of potentially effective ideas how to solve the problem of training professionally socialized specialists. Thus, our research focuses on the Canadian experience of using co-op programs aimed at both providing the training of future health informatics professionals and ensuring their professional socialization after graduation from a higher educational institution.
The health informatics specialty has been chosen for the research because it is one that requires the afore-mentioned qualities from its specialists. Nowadays health informatics is considered a perspective evolving discipline at the merge of medicine, health care and informatics. Its chief tasks include developing medical information systems for effective health care sector functioning, creating electronic patient databases and computerized tools for medical decision making, optimizing patients health services with the help of information technology usage etc. . Thus, the health informatics specialty aims at training professionals that succeed in performing these tasks.
In our research professional socialization is defined as the process of developing a professional identity by acquiring values, norms, behavours, ethical standards and principles pertaining to a particular profession . Being an integral part of the socialization process and used in relation to students as future professionals, it usually involves two stages. The first one can be determined as general socialization that develops moral, esthetic, political, ecological, family or other social and psychological values. They are considered as the basis of motivated activity. They also help students as future professionals to establish attitudes to themselves, other people and surroundings. Professional socialization is the second stage of this process in which a person learns a trade, acquires professional knowledge and skills necessary for performing specific roles within a profession in accordance with the division of labour .
We consider that co-op programs are a good practice of ensuring professional socialization of future health informatics professionals in Canada. In its post-secondary education system, co-op programs are an integral part of career education in which work experience is incorporated into the curriculum of higher educational institutions. This type of programs proves to be popular among the Canadian post-secondary students. The purpose of these programs is “to provide post-secondary students with assignments related to their field of study and offer them the opportunity to use their academic knowledge in an actual work setting” . At present health informatics co-op programs are found in a number of academic institutions in Canada, for example in Centennial College, University of Victoria and University of Waterloo.
Regarding their chief characteristics, co-op programs are full-time educational programs in which periods of in-class instructions are alternated with periods of work terms. The latter usually last for four months enabling students to act as employees, to perform a job that is related to their program of study and to be paid for it. In order to be employed for the period of work terms in co-op programs, students must meet certain academic criteria that may vary in different institutions. Nevertheless, an individual should possess a status of a full-time student of a co-op program in a post-secondary institution. It is also essential for a student to be enrolled in a co-op program from which federal organizations may recruit .
There are two ways for students to find a job for their work terms in co-op programs. As a rule, academic institutions offering co-op programs have co-op education departments or offices that cooperate with companies and constantly search for new contacts with industry to provide jobs for their students. However, as the job market for co-op students is highly competitive, it is sometimes difficult for these departments to provide working places for every student. Consequently, co-op students sometimes have to seek employment by themselves. In both cases, co-op coordinators of co-op departments provide them with useful job-search tips and guidelines how to prepare for job interviews. They also give individual counseling if necessary and discuss with students job-related questions and concerns .
According to the main principle of co-op education in Canada, the partnership among the employer, academic institution and a student is the obligatory element in successful implementation of these programs . Thus, every of the afore-mentioned parties receives its benefits from co-op programs. The advantages for students applying for co-op programs include receiving real work-related experience, earning additional funds to pay for the studies, identifying their on-job strengths and weaknesses, learning how to work in a team, enabling to become marketable upon graduation etc. Having a real-world experience also assists students in making career choice. Co-op students’ employment while studying in a post-secondary institution provides first-hand experience in writing CVs and gives a general understanding of job application process.
Post-secondary educational institutions also gain benefits from providing this type of programs since they receive employers’ evaluation of their students’ knowledge and skills. Regarding companies that employ students of co-op programs, they consider such a practice a good opportunity to attract their new potential employees . This is also a way for an employing company to participate in the process of developing the content of professional training in health informatics.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that health informatics co-op programs find their essential niche in training competent and professionally socialized specialists. On completing this type of programs, co-op students are able to gain a unique valuable work experience and develop professional skills in real-world work location while being employed in a real team of specialists and performing real tasks as well as solving typical job-related problems.
Шулигіна Р.А. Особливості професійної соціалізації студентської молоді в освітньому просторі ВНС / Р.А. Шулигіна [Електронний ресурс]. – Режим доступу: www.ird.npu.edu.ua/files/shulygina.pdf.
Concept Aanalysis of Professional Socialization in Nursing / Dinmohammadi M. et al. // Nursing forum. – Vol. 48. – No 1. – 2013. – P. 26-34.
Co-op at Centennial: Your Guide to Co-op Education and Future Employment, 5th Edition. – Toronto: Co-operative Education and Employment Resources Department of Centennial College, 2009. – 124 p.
Moehr J.R., Grant A. Medical Informatics and Medical Education in Canada in the 21st Century / Jochen R. Moehr, Andrew Grant // Clin Invest Med. – Vol. 23. – No 4. – 2000. – P. 275-280.
Post-secondary Co-op/Internship Programs [Electronic resource]. – Government of Canada. – Mode of access: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-service-commission/jobs/services/recruitment/students/coop-internship.html.
Khmelnytskyi National University
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING OF FUTURE BACHELORS OF ARTS IN LINGUISTICS AT THE NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY (UK) Keywords: linguistics, linguist, professional training, Bachelor of Arts, UK.
Owing to significants changes that occur in many dimensions of human life, education is being modified as well. Educators are searching for new ways to adjust teaching and learning to current needs of students. Ukrainian scholars and practitioners have accumulated remarkable experience in this matter. Nevertheless, modern labour market is placing more and more demands on employees. Therefore, it is of vital importance to apply to foreign experience.
Linguistics as a science has a vast potential that has not been fully revealed yet. British scholars are constantly searching for innovative strategies to use them in professional training of future linguists. Having analyzed numerous syllabi of leading British uinversities (Lancaster University, Bangor University, Newcastle University et al.), we took into account their achievements. Within this study, we would like to briefly justify the obtained results on the example of the Newcastle University.
To begin with, it must be noted that the mission statement of the university consists in the following: a) to be a world-class, research-intensive university; b) to deliver teaching and facilitate learning of the highest qiality; c) to play a leading role in the economic, social and cultural development of UK (Newcastle University, 2009). Which is why, the values and principles of the university include academic freedom; the pursuit of knowledge and understanding; a sound academic disciplinary base; a methodology based on reason and evidence; social responsibility; transparency. In addition, they are committed to exellence, value diversity, respond to societal challenges, accord parity of esteem and to research and teaching, educate for life, are globally ambitious and regionally rooted, invest in excellent staff (Newcastle University, 2017).
As for Linguistics BA Honours offered by the University, it is focused on how language works, how it is structured and what it does, from the physical properties of speech, to how languages change and develop over time. So, students have the opportunity to learn about the growth and development of language in the brain as well as methodologies for the scientific study of the human language faculty (Newcastle University, 2017).
In general, modules cover topics such as phonetics/phonology, grammar and sound patterns, social contexts in which languages are learnt.
Degrees at the Newcastle University are divided into Stages. Each Stage lasts for an academic year and students must complete modules totalling 120 credits by the end of each Stage.
The Stage 1 consists primarily of compulsory modules that are The Nature of Language; Language Through Time; Shaping Sounds and Syntax; Building Blocks of Language; Language across Space: Introduction to English Dialects. In addition, students may take 40 credits of optional modules in a modern language (French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese or Japanese).
The Stage 2, on the contrary, has more optional modules than compulsory ones. Compulsory modules are mainly focused on the linguistic theory, namely, Phonological Theory; the Syntax of the World’s Languages; Syntactic Theory. Students can take three optional of the following modules: Introduction to Language Acquisition; Sociolinguistics and the Sociology of Language; Contexts: Mind, Cognition and Computation; Early English: Texts, Patterns and Varieties; Speakers as Wordsmiths: the Creation of New Words in Present-Day English. Also, they may replace one module from the above list, or other optional modules available from outside the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, with one from the following list: Career Development for Second Year Students; Developing Enterprise, Entrepreneurship and Employability; Career Management Module. It may also be possible, over the course of Stages 2 and 3 together, to replace up to 60 credits of Linguistics optional modules with modules from the School of Modern Languages, with approval of the Degree Programme Director.
Worth mentioning that students can apply to spend 9 to 12 months on an optional work placement between Stages 2 and 3. They can spend their placement year with any organisation and receive University support to do so. It allows extend their degree by a year and is subject to availability. As an alternative, they can study abroad for one semester in their second year through the Erasmus programme (Newcastle University, 2017).
The Stage 3 involves only optional modules. Students may choose one of the following: Extended Study 1: Linguistics and English Language; Extended Study 2: Linguistics and English Language; five modules from the following list: Language Origins and Evolution; Immigrant Second Language and Literacy Acquisition; History of Linguistic Ideas; Topics in Phonological Theory; Syntactic Puzzles and How to Solve Them; Old English: Texts and Translations; Language Development: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches; Language and Ethnicity in 21st Century Britain; Accents of English. There are also certain modifications available during the Stage 2. It must be noted that students can complete a dissertation in their third year, investigating a topic that they are interested in and also to participate in staff research projects. The research expertise includes Computational Linguistics; Language Variation; Psycholinguistics; Theoretical Linguistics.
Speaking about teaching methods, students normally spend around 10 hours per week attending lectures, seminars, workshops and film screenings, plus weekly study groups. They also spend around 25 hours per week on class preparation, reading, writing, and other kinds of independent research recommended by their tutor. The assessment methods usually include written coursework, group presentations, discussion-board postings, end-of-semester examinations (Newcastle University, 2017).
So, based on the above, we can conclude that the BA degree in Linguistics offered by the Newcastle University is modern, flexible and corresponds to the current needs of labour market. First of all, students master the comprehensive linguistic theory (phonetics/phonology, morphology, syntax, etc.). Second of all, they may choose optional modules to their liking from a wide range of linguistic and other areas and obtain an additional specialization. In addition, they can study one of modern languages and study abroad. Finally, students obtain a range of valuable skills, which they can transfer to many different employment situations. Their literary and linguistic training can be used in journalism, librarianship, teaching and the highly competitive fields of writing, acting and directing. They also gain other skills such as the capacity to analyze and summarize material, to communicate, to work to a deadline, to argue a case, to work independently as well as collaboratively, to think logically and to be able to use computers. This is excellent preparation for a wide number of professions, including editorial, marketing, PR and other forms of media, law, politics, HR, teaching and supporting specialist learning.
Newcastle University. (2017). About the University. Retrieved 10.04.2017 from : http://www.ncl.ac.uk/about/.
Newcastle University. (2017). Linguistics BA Honours. Retrieved 10.04.2017 from : http://ncl.reportlab.com/media/output/q100.pdf.
Newcastle University. (2009). Vision 2021: A Wold-Class Civic University. Retrieved 10.04.2017 from : http://www.ncl.ac.uk/media/wwwnclacuk/abouttheuniversity/files/vision2021.pdf.