Victoria’s new degree to fill gap across multiple industries

The first group of students from Victoria University has successfully completed the country’s only university course in actuarial science.

The first group of students from Victoria University of Wellington has successfully completed the country’s only university course in actuarial science.

The University’s Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics Dr Peter Donelan says actuarial science is entering a new era beyond assessing life and financial risk as governments and businesses grapple with social investment and the effects of climate change.

The new undergraduate programme offered at Victoria is in response to the growing need for professionals who can analyse, measure and manage risk, he says.

“We live in a world where we are increasingly conscious of risk, whether from natural hazards such as earthquakes and storms, personal factors relating to health, disease and lifestyle, or uncertainty in financial markets, investments and asset management.

“There’s a growing demand for actuarial skills, not just across the traditional fields of insurance and finance, but in areas such as government, education, health and software development,” he says.

The actuarial science major, available in both the Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science degrees, encompasses a range of papers across economics, finance, mathematics, statistics and the actuarial science paper in the students’ final year.

Seven students completed the paper that ran for the first time throughout the second half of this year.

To mark the occasion, a special ceremony was held last week where two promising actuarial science students, Ross Engelbrecht and Juanying (Jenny) Hu, were each awarded $2,500 prizes for outstanding academic merit.

The prizes were established in conjunction with ACC, Wellington’s largest employer of actuaries, in honour of ACC’s head actuary and Victoria alumnus Jonathan Nicholls who passed away earlier this year.

Professor Bob Buckle, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce, says the programme has been thoughtfully designed with extensive industry input.

“The New Zealand Society of Actuaries and individuals in the industry have lent their expertise to help shape the programme so it instils students with the right mix of skills, theory and practical experience.”

“One of the other great things about the programme is it provides opportunities for students to connect directly with leading members of the profession and from there, develop links with potential employers,” he says.