Master of Financial and Actuarial Engineering | metrics table at end of article
Launched in 2004, this one-year programme combines financial and actuarial engineering and is offered jointly by the Faculty of Economics and Business and the Faculty of Science at the University of Leuven, in collaboration with Université Catholique de Louvain, also in Leuven, where students go to study one of the courses.
This programme will soon undergo planned restructuring. In 2018, it will merge with another degree offered by the University of Leuven, a master’s in insurance studies, and will be taught over the course of two years. The focus will remain on actuarial and financial engineering and there will be a compulsory internship. The revamped programme will incorporate R and MatLab, as well as Python, which is due to be introduced in 2018. It will also include optional modules on big data and analytics. These courses are not new to Leuven, though – they are available as part of the master’s programme in statistics and business engineering. There will also be an elective course dedicated to financial regulation.
“From my perspective, there’s been an upswing in demand for data science,” says Katrien Antonio, one of the programme directors. “Companies are more and more interested in data science projects, as well as hiring data scientists. There’s been more attention to regulation and how it interacts with all the products and activities, as well as quantitative risk management.”
The low tuition fees are among the most striking aspects of this programme. Currently at €3,500 ($3,925), they will be halved in 2018 because of the change in structure. Students can also benefit from lecturers with industry links, as electives are usually taught by practitioners. For example, Jan De Spiegeleer, who is a former head of risk management at Jabre Capital Partners, a Geneva-based hedge fund management company, teaches an optional course on stochastic models.
The programme currently accommodates 39 students, and the number of places will increase in line with the scheduled expansion. “We will try to create more agreements with other universities with similar master’s programmes to give our students the opportunity to gain some experience abroad as part of their master’s,” Antonio says.
Antonio believes the university’s location will provide students with unique opportunities in the foreseeable future: “We are in the heart of Europe – for example, with Lloyd’s [of London?] opening a division in Brussels after Brexit, we have great possibilities for graduates.”
Wenbo Chen graduated from this programme in 2014 and works as a life insurance consultant at Willis Towers Watson.
“The professors that taught on the programme are quite famous in China – for example, Jan Dhaene. Belgium provides an international environment; there’s lots of international organisations here – that’s why I chose it. The mathematical part was particularly useful. Before I came to Leuven I didn’t focus that much on the probability side and stochastics, [so] that was quite helpful.”