Presidential Dialogue: Part III and CPD Education Reform

In this opinion piece, 2018 President John Evans discusses the need for reform in how the Actuaries Institute provides Part III education to students and lifelong learning to members through CPD.

The Institute has released my Presidential Address which is intended to facilitate a dialogue throughout the year on topics where I consider we all need to engage to reach a consensus on the appropriate response of the Institute to issues that are of strategic importance. You can respond to my comments in this Discussion Forum. In addition to the Presidential Address, I will raise similar strategic issues in Actuaries Digital and you can respond to these issues by accessing the same Discussion Forum. 

Almost all of the Part III students come to the Actuaries Institute via an undergraduate program at an accredited university. During their undergraduate program students can expect to receive a very high level of support in achieving their degree through program level expected outcomes, integrated learning outcomes at the subject level, and a teaching and learning system that involves regular assessments with feedback.

The entire university education system is aimed at ensuring through support that students can achieve the best outcome for them that is possible. When these students undertake their Part III subjects at the Actuaries Institute they have an expectation of similar support to that which they received at university. The Actuaries Institute education system is currently designed as self directed adult learning.  It has become clear that students need and expect a higher level of support and therefore the current Part III program is in need of reform to meet the students’ expectations.

Council has allocated significant funds for this reform in 2018 and similar financing will be required in at least 2019 and 2020. The first step in the reform process has been to employ professional educators whose role is to assess what changes need to be made in the Part III education process and what schedule of changes can be reasonably implemented. Council is holding a special meeting in May to consider the detail of plans that are being developed to improve the teaching and learning experience of our Part III students.

As well as some short-term improvements, there are some longer-term issues that need to be discussed and assessed to achieve the best long term outcome. One of the issues that needs to be taken into account is the affordability of the continuous improvement that will be required in the teaching and learning of Part III subjects as we are a relatively small organisation with limited funds, and just do not have the scale of the larger actuarial organisations with whom we compete for Part III students. Globalisation of the profession will alert students to the options available to them for their Part III studies and it would be foolish to assume Australian students will continue to automatically choose the Actuaries Institute’s Part III program.

“It is imperative that to attract Part III students that we adopt the reforms being proposed, and we continue to improve the teaching and learning process. One of the consequences of an improved teaching and learning process is that pass rates should improve.”

As well as reform of the Part III program we need to improve the CPD program to better meet the lifelong learning needs of members, including both up-skilling and cross-skilling. Whilst there are a lot of activities and offerings available, these are often not recognised by members and an integrated website is being planned to assist members to access appropriate offerings. As well as our own offerings and activities it is intended to bring to members’ attention through this website to relevant offerings of other organisations. Online courses and digital offerings will be increasingly made available so that members not resident in Sydney and Melbourne can have access to the CPD resources and activities.

The combination of the Part III and the CPD reforms will be the major activity of the Actuaries Institute over the next few years and is critical in our maintaining our value proposition to both current and future members. The reforms do not come cheap and will use a significant part of the financial reserves that have been accumulated over the last few years. Council is very conscious of this expenditure and is closely monitoring outcomes against expectations. There is to be a major review of the Part III reforms in December to ensure the process is achieving expectations.

John Evans

President 2018

CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.