Frequently asked questions

General

Q: Who should I approach for information regarding undergraduate studies in Stats and Actuarial Science?
A: Please approach our programme director for undergraduate studies, Michael von Maltitz (vmaltitzmj@ufs.ac.za; +27 51 401 2609; West Block W 102).

Q: Who should I approach for information regarding postgraduate studies in Stats and Actuarial Science?
A: Please approach our programme director for postgraduate studies, Dr Linda van der Merwe (vdmerwel@ufs.ac.za; +27 51 401 2933; West Block W 105).

Q: How do I know which modules to register for?
A: Please search out the latest Rule Book of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. It has all the important information, including technical details. The Rule Book information overrides all other information provided here.

Q: Distance or part-time learning: Can I study Statistics or Actuarial Science part-time?
A: All our undergraduate and honours degrees are full-time only. Students must be based in Bloemfontein for the entire academic term. All courses are constructed and taught assuming 100% class attendance. At master's or higher level you may discuss options with the Supervisor and Programme Director.

Actuarial Science

Q: Is Actuarial Science a selection course?
A: NO. We accept all students who meet the requirements (70% for Maths and 34 AP score, or better).

Q: What are the entry requirements?
A: 70% for Maths and 34 AP score, or better, in final matric results. For example, a student with a B for Maths, 3 other Bs, and 2 Cs (not counting LO) will qualify.

Q: What happens if I don’t meet the requirements?
A: In special cases where a student under-performs in the final exams (below what they are usually capable of) we can look at earlier school results and NBT results, but in most cases, students will have to enter into another degree and can later apply to move to Actuarial Science if their results are strong enough (65%+ for ALL subjects).

Q: How many years of study for Actuarial Science?
A: Most students take more than ten years to become an actuary, but the minimum is 8 years. This is broken up into phases: Undergraduate degree (minimum three years), Honours degree (minimum one year), work and study simultaneously through correspondence (minimum four years). Typically, less than 10% of students entering into the programme complete the entire process to be fully qualified, and these are usually the hardest-working students.

Q: What are the career prospects?
A: All students who complete the honours programme find good employment. Usually this is in the financial sector, especially banking and insurance. Many students decide to move into a statistics career instead, including biostatistics, marketing, official statistics, etc.

Q: How do exemptions work?
A: Students doing well in our examinations do not have to write the corresponding exams of the Actuarial Association of South Africa (ASSA). Technical details are on the Actuarial Science page.

Q: What should I focus on to prepare for Actuarial Science?
A: Reading, writing, and communication skills. Many students struggle because their language skills are not up to standard. Also, general knowledge about the financial sector is a must. So, keep up to date by reading the financial and business news.

Q: What should I focus on in the first year?
A: It is important that you attend classes but even more important to learn how to study independently in addition to classes. The material alone is not sufficient to perform well in this degree. You need to make up your own homework when not enough homework is provided. You should get 70%+ for the first year Mathematics, as it is a requirement to register as a student member of the Actuarial Society of South Africa upon completion of your Bachelors degree. This is usually the biggest challenge for first-year students.

Q: What do I do if I realise Actuarial Science is the wrong choice for me?
A: The earlier you realise this the more options you have, so find out everything you can about the career now. Speak to a programme director or guidance counsellor after doing your own reading. After the first or second year you can move to a mathematical statistics, mathematics or economics degree. During or after the third year it is difficult (but not impossible) to move to anything other than mathematical statistics. Luckily statistics is used in every business and every science so you are still guaranteed employment should you pursue this avenue thoroughly.

Mathematical Statistics

Q: What are the entry requirements?
A: 60% for Maths and 30 AP score, or better, in final matric results. For example, a student with all Cs or better will qualify.

Q: What can I do with a degree in Mathematical Statistics?
A: Mathematical Statistics is the basis for many of the world's top careers, including data scientist and scientific consultant. It is used in every science and in every field of business to turn data into useful knowledge. Locally, many graduates are employed in clinical research organisations.

Applied Statistics – Commerce or Economics or Psychology or Climatology…

Q: What are the entry requirements?
A: 60% for Maths and 30 AP score, or better, in final matric results. For example, a student with Cs or better for all subjects will qualify.

Investment Science

Q: What are the differences between a BSc majoring in investment science and actuarial science?
A: Actuarial science divides attention between investment science and insurance/risk topics. The investment science degree cuts out the focused insurance topics, but adds accounting and exotic investment topics.

Q: What are the differences between a BSc majoring in investment science and a BCom majoring in investment management?
A: Investment science requires strong mathematical ability as we teach the technical/mathematical side of investments used by managers and analysts of complex investment funds. The BCom Investment Management degree is focused on the business side of investing, especially client interaction and management.

Postgraduate studies – Honours/Master's

Q: What are the requirements for postgraduate studies in Statistics or Actuarial Science?
A: Please approach Dr Linda van der Merwe (vdmerwel@ufs.ac.za; +27 51 401 2933; West Block W 105), our programme director for postgraduate studies, six months in advance for information on the application process and what modules are available under specific programmes.

Data Science

Q: I've heard data science is the top new career of the decade, how do I qualify as a data scientist?
A: Data science is a mixture of programming and statistics. A good data scientist is somebody who can solve business problems by applying strong programming and statistics skills to big data. So you can qualify either by doing a statistics/mathematical statistics degree with heavy programming, or by doing a programming degree with heavy statistics/mathematical statistics. Both options are available at UFS.


FACULTY CONTACT

Faculty Manager: Ms Lee-Ann Frazenburg
T: +27 51 401 3199
E: damonsle@ufs.ac.za

Marketing Manager: Mrs Elfrieda Lötter
T: +27 51 401 2531
E: lottere@ufs.ac.za

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