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The Work of the SOA Accreditation Implementation Task Force Issue 32

The Work of the SOA Accreditation Implementation Task Force Issue 32

by Warren Luckner, FSA

This article provides an update of the report in the June 2005 issue of Expanding Horizons.

ACTIVITY SINCE JUNE

Presentation and Discussion at the June 2005 SOA Board Meeting

The Accreditation Implementation Task Force (AITF) was referenced in two important agenda items during the June 17-18 SOA Board of Governors meeting. In addition to the specific agenda item regarding the work of the Task Force, the Task Force was referenced in the report of the SOA Task Force charged with reviewing the Morris report concerning the actuarial profession in the United Kingdom. The recommendations of the latter agenda item were forwarded to the SOA Issues Advisory Council.

As a result of the discussion at the June Board meeting, the Task Force considered the following issues during a July conference call. The consensus of the Task Force follows each question.

  1. Would some combination of the current listing of schools and a smaller listing of accredited schools better address concerns than the current draft of two levels of designation for each of education and research?

    The consensus was that the online survey question addressing this approach is the appropriate action rather making a change at this time to the structure proposed in the current document.

  2. What is a reasonable estimate for revenues and costs for the 2006 budget?

    Estimates of revenues and costs will be included in the final report, based in part on the feedback received to the fee structure question in the online survey.

  3. How transition to a tougher accreditation standard if desired later?

    Consensus was that making the standard tougher could be viewed as a higher level category and viewed as a natural evolution for, for example, additional benefits such as alternate route consideration. This should not cause significant difficulties.

  4. Would it be better to start with only an education category of accreditation?

    The Research categories were considered important. The consensus was that having those categories did not add significant problems at this time. A newly identified use of such categories is to provide information to prospective graduate students regarding research graduate studies at either the Master?s or PhD level.

  5. How are internet-based courses to be evaluated, given the wide range of types of internet courses?

    Consensus was that if the University of an accredited actuarial science program accepts the course for academic credit, the SOA should accept the course.

Presentation and Discussion at the August 2005 Actuarial Research Conference

Considering the Board discussion, the Task Force finalized the material to be presented and discussed at the Actuarial Research Conference (ARC) in August. The objective of the presentation and discussion at ARC was to obtain feedback on the specific criteria and structure. The conference also provided an opportunity for a pilot test of the online survey.

Issues raised as a result of the presentation and discussion at ARC included:

  1. Concern regarding the requirement of an external advisory group at the Actuarial level.

  2. The appropriate lag time between when schools can first apply and when the first list of accredited programs will be posted. The concern is the amount of time it will take to process initial submission and the desire to be fair to all schools in posting the list.

  3. Suggestion that there be only one classification ? actuarial education

  4. Suggestion that accreditation verification should include formal discussion with submitter

  5. Some support for an unaccredited category in lieu of the pre-actuarial accreditation

    The Task Force made no changes to the excerpt to be posted based on this feedback, in part because of the limited feedback and the desire to have more feedback before making changes.

    CURRENT STATUS

    Based on discussions at the June 2005 Board meeting and at the August 2005 Actuarial Research Conference, and subsequent discussion during July and August conference calls, the Task Force finalized an excerpt of their draft report, which includes the proposed criteria and structure for an accreditation system, as well as a draft application form. The excerpt was posted, along with an online survey for feedback, on the SOA website September 3. An email alert was sent to: the SOA Board Members; contacts at schools on the current Actuarial College Listings; actuarial employer contacts from the Actuarial Training Programs directory; individuals on the Academic Relations Listserve; members of the SOA's Education and Research Section; CAS academic correspondent members and academic liaisons; and the members of AITF and Alternate Route Further Study Task Force. A notice of the posting of the report excerpt was also in the September issue of SOA News Today. The deadline for providing feedback through the online survey was 5:00 p.m. September 23rd.

    CURRENT TIMELINE

    The Task Force's current timeline is:

  1. September and October conference calls to finalize the report after reviewing feedback from the online survey

  2. Final report to Board in November