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Sanlam and UCT to Support Actuarial Students

By Karl Socikwa and Lotz Mahlangeni, 17 September 2021

Sanlam and the University of Cape Town (UCT) announced that they have entered into an agreement to relaunch the Actuarial Science Support and Advice Desk.

The Actuarial Science Support and Advice Desk provides free learning and psychosocial support to UCT students studying actuarial science.

Sanlam and UCT also announced that the seasoned manager of the service, Ms Irene Petrony, will return as Counsellor on the actuarial programme. Renowned among the UCT’s actuarial alumni, she has been an integral part of the programme for more than 20 years.

Commenting on the partnership, Head of Section: Actuarial Science, Mr Pieter Botha, said: “The positive impacts of the Actuarial Science Support and Advice Desk will continue to have ripple effects on the lives of actuarial students for years to come. Undoubtedly, the success of actuarial students in their degrees, and later, in the world of work, is influenced by having a warm, nurturing environment in which to learn and thrive.”

Mr Pieter Botha

On Ms Petrony as the Counsellor, Mr Botha said she represents a fundamental cornerstone of the nurturing environment at UCT. “Irene offers students a safe space to access independent, caring and expert advice with her decades of experience in helping students with the key problems they face on their difficult paths towards qualification as actuaries. I want to express immense gratitude to our friends at Sanlam for making the continuation of this initiative possible,” he said.

Actuarial science is well recognised as the backbone of the insurance industry and it is fitting for Sanlam, a long-standing supporter of actuarial students, to provide support for a programme such as the Actuarial Science Support and Advice Desk.

“We are proud to once again show our support to actuarial students in recognition of the significant role played by the actuarial profession in our company and the industry as a whole. Apart from this initiative that we have sponsored at UCT, we have been providing bursaries for actuarial students for over 50 years, with the aim of attracting talented professionals to Sanlam. We believe it is not only strategic but it is also the right thing to do for us as a corporate citizen to invest in the profession in this way,” said Sanlam Group Executive for Market Development and Sustainability, Mr Karl Socikwa.

Mr Karl Socikwa

Since 2017, Sanlam has funded studies of 24 students mainly at UCT but also at Wits and Stellenbosch, with R4 million invested in students during the 2021 financial year. In 2022, Sanlam intends to provide about 23 students with bursaries for actuarial studies. The Group employs 118 qualified actuaries and an additional 135 actuarial students across the group.

Sanlam Group Chief Actuary and Chief Risk Officer, Mr Lotz Mahlangeni said: “To demonstrate our commitment to the development of actuarial talent, we have scaled up our actuarial science bursary programme by increasing the number of bursaries to 20 per annum. This will include both South African students and those from the countries in the rest of the African continent where Sanlam operates.

Mr Lotz Mahlangeni

“Apart from the bursary funding, Sanlam also provides emotional support to its bursars. We have just appointed Ms Ramona Francis as our Bursary-holder Liaison Officer. Ramona’s primary focus will be to ensure that the bursary holders receive all of the necessary support they deserve to help them through their studies. We believe this is complementary to the UCT programme and will go a long way in building a sound relationship with the students,” Mr Socikwa said.

Actuaries are recognised for the value they bring to the development of public policy and the function of national planning, particularly with regard to modelling, risk analysis, as well as statistical data.

Ms Petrony said she was looking forward to continuing with the work, passing on her years of experience to the students and enriching their lives.

“I am incredibly grateful to Sanlam for the opportunity. I have been supporting and advising actuarial students for 40 years. I am still in contact with many of my past students, some even decades after qualifying as actuaries, and I love to hear their stories and of all their adventures. Working with and supporting students is my passion,” she said.

Ms Irene Petrony

UCT’s Acting Dean of Commerce, Professor Edwin Muchapondwa, said: “I am delighted about the new Sanlam/Actuarial Science partnership. We welcome opportunities to collaborate with leading actors in the industry. Sanlam’s contribution helps us continue enhancing the “graduateness” and employability of our students.”

Professor Edwin Muchapondwa

South Africa had 1 545 qualified actuaries and 2 735 actuarial students in 2019. In 2021, UCT had a first year intake of 244 actuarial students compared to the 186 in 2020. The higher intake and the increased level of support can only improve the success rate and increase the numbers of actuarial graduates emerging from universities. Over time, this will improve the pool of actuaries available in SA.

The 2018-2020 data shows that the number of African, Indian and Coloured NSC candidates qualifying with a Bachelors admission increased each year. In line with this, the numbers of students enrolling for degree programmes in SA showed an upward trend and the same is true for students opting to do the actuarial degree programme.

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