In the SOA, for decades there has been an argument for allowing actuarial science majors at special colleges to be able to get credit for exams (like they do in the UK… and many other countries don’t even have exams. You have to have a degree from specific schools)
It sounds like the SOA is having another go at this (see: SOA -- College Credit for Exams ) so I’m going to dig up the historical documents I amassed back in 2009/2010.
The oldest ones I found are from 1970:
TRANSACTIONS OF SOCIETY OF ACTUARIES
1970 VOL. 22 PT. 2 NO. 64
THE ALTERNATE ROUTE
CHAIRMAN PAUL T. ROTTER: In his presidential address in Boston
last year, Mr. Milliman gave the background reasons leading to the appointment of the ad hoc committee of the American Academy of Actuaries charged with studying the “Alternate Route.” Also at last year’s
Annual Meeting, Mr. Lancaster gave a report on the work of this committee. Since then, this subject has been discussed by the Education and
Examination Committee, the Advisory Committee on Education and
Examinations, the Joint Committee on Review of Education and Examinations, and other committees of the several actuarial bodies in Canada
and the United States. It has also been discussed in larger forums, such
as the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and several actuarial clubs.
MR. JULIUS VOGEL: As Paul indicated, I am in favor of the alternate
route. It seems to me that its adoption would serve the long-term good of
of the actuarial profession, and I would like to explain why.
To begin with, it is clear that Parts 1-5 of the life actuarial syllabus are
the fundamental mathematical basis of our profession and lend themselves
most naturally to being taught in college. What I am concerned about is
that on these basic and important subjects Our traditional self-study
syllabus may fall behind the best modern thinking and instruction that
might be found at some particular college or university.
Part 3–Finite Differences–provides another illustration. Freeman’s
book, which is the textbook for Part 3, is largely oriented to the problem
of using desk calculators efficiently in making actuarial calculations. But
for the last ten or fifteen years most extensive actuarial calculations have
been done on computers, so that Freeman is obviously out of date. However, the Education and Examination Committee has so far been unable
to substitute a computer-oriented textbook for Freeman. There are good
reasons for this. But at least one of the problems in finding a new book is
that most computer-oriented textbooks are premised on familiarity with
a programming language, such as FORTRAN. We have some students who
do uot know FORTRAN, as well as others who are full-time programmers
in :FORTRAN. We have to be fair to all of them, and it is difficult to find
a computer-oriented textbook that is substantially fair to all comers.
My point is that applications to actuarial science of matrices, or Laplace transforms, or Bayesian probability, or any one of a number of
mathematical techniques that I and others of my generation may know
only by name without a clear idea of what they mean, are most likely to
be thought of first in the colleges. It seems to me that the alternate route
would do much to encourage this kind of development of actuarial science. It would free a teacher to use new approaches in his class without
thereby penalizing his students by making it more difficult for them to
pass a traditional actuarial examination.
MR. PETER W. PLUMLEY: Julius has prescntcd his casc well for the
alternate route. Certainly there is much to be said in favor of this proposal. There are, however, also some troublesome questions which need to
I think all of us would agree that it is highly desirable to encourage the
colleges to play a greater role in the education of the actuary. If our profession is to continue to thrive, it nmst do so by attracting new members
and by supplying them with the best possible actuarial education.
Let us carefully distinguish this, however, from the problem of determining whether a person is qualified to be admitted to membership in
the Society of Actuaries. We and those who have preceded us have earned
a justifiably high reputation. A reputation is more easily lost than regained, however. It is not sufficient to say that most actuaries have
learned their skills; we must be able to say that all have. Therefore, it
is only through the maintenance of uniformly high standards of admission that we are going to be able to continue to maintain our reputation.
MR. STEPHEN G. KELLISON: I am appearing today to present some of the arguments against the alternate route. I am afraid that this is a role in which most other actuarial professors would feel uncomfortable. I can assure you, however, that I am quite pleased to be able to participate on this panel in this capacity.
The first argument involves the question of maintaining professional standards which are both high and uniform. Even though this point is of > great importance, I will discuss it only briefly, since Pete has already discussed it in detail. There is no question that standards on actuarial examinations are higher than standards in college course work. Most students who are successful on Society examinations devote substantial effort above and beyond that required in college courses. This additional effort, resulting in a deeper understanding of the subject material, would undoubtedly diminish under the alternate route. Furthermore, university administrators and even faculties are not always as dedicated to the attainment and maintenance of high professional standards as most of you would presume.
The fourth argument against the alternate route is that there is an extreme shortage of actuarial programs and professors in North America, particularly in the United States. I question whether we have enough educational facilities at universities to handle effectively any significant transfer of the education and examination effort from the profession to the universities, either at the present time or in the near future.
In most actuarial programs one or two individual professors can often largely determine who does or does not get the necessary marks in course work and the degree required for the alternate route. This is placing a significant amount of power in the hands of one or two persons, since the result is going to be used for something as important as a student’s qualifying for professional standing.
The fifth area of my concern involves the impact that the alternate route would have on the universities. The proponents have stated that the alternate route would strengthen university programs, and this is probably true for the larger, well-established programs. It could, however, easily prove to have adverse effects on the newer or smaller programs.
The sixth and final argument is a counterargument to the concept that the alternate route is a natural evolution which would have the actuarial profession follow the same pattern other professions have followed. It is true that most other professions do provide for training and qualification through the university system. In considering this argument more deeply, however, there are several factors which should be kept in mind.
First of all, most other professions do not have an alternate route; university training is the only route. This splintering of ways to enter a profession leading to a duplication of effort and a double standard is not typical.
Second, most other professions have never had an examination system outside the universities which would even approach in caliber the present system for actuarial science. Thus the need to utilize the universities for other professions was more pressing.
Third, as previously mentioned, the number of actuaries actively engaged in teaching is very small. This creates unique problems for our profession which are not present for the larger professions with much more extensive university facilities. Not only does it create a problem for individual professors in objectively evaluating a student’s performance, but it creates a problem in evaluating a university’s accreditation every time there is a change of even one person on the faculty.