Originally Posted by thekang
I am well aware of this, that is why I said what I did in my post. I expect the reason for this is usually either:
- The university doesn't give a **** what they are teaching
- The student doesn't give a **** about taking exams
An actuarial degree in the US is still supposed to prepare you for all the preliminary exams (whether it works or not is another matter). And for the UK, not every actuarial degree graduate gets exemptions either; you get awarded the exemption only if you hit the minimum marks needed for your college final exam, which is approved by the IFOA to be equivalent to a CT paper (whether this works or not is another matter).
I think you probably don't understand the competition for international students trying to get an actuarial position in the UK, it is extremely difficult (similar to the situation in US). But what I hear is similar to what you said, that exams are not important. Employers pay a lot of attention to schools (e.g. Oxbridge, which incidentally does not have actuarial courses) and class of honours instead.
This also leads to another issue that can affect travel times between the UK and US system, that many IFOA exam candidates are graduates from top schools in the UK. There is definitely a much lower proportion of Ivy League graduates taking US actuarial (fellowship) exams. Of course they are two separate systems, but just putting it out there in case someone is in the position of choosing between the two systems (e.g. Waterloo graduate).
I completely agree that it is extremely difficult for international students. I can however speak from the employer's perspective and say that there are often reasons for this.
We get a large number (very large) of Indian and Chinese students applying for roles. In general (of course there are exceptions) their communication skills are very poor. A lot of them pass a few exams before graduating and place too much emphasis on this in their application. As an employer, we're looking mainly for the ability to communicate well and evidence of being able to work as part of a team. Anybody who meets the minimum educational requirements is going to be intelligent enough to deal with the work and pass exams, so we don't place too much focus on this. It's also just that little bit more effort to hire an international student. Cost of flying them out for an interview, cost of sponsoring and an increased flight risk.
I also agree about the quality of students. Actuarial work seems to be a bit more prestigious in the UK, and you do get top quality graduates applying for jobs. People who could easily get a job in IB or Consulting. These people will fly through the exams, and would do the same whether they were studying in the UK, US or anywhere else. Not everybody is a top candidate though and there are plenty of people from lesser universities too. I work with people who have studied at a variety of unis, ranging from a top masters degree from Cambridge to a 2.1 from an ex-poly.