In 2005 the Academic Intelligence Award was presented to the Centre for BMI at the SAS Forum in Lisbon for bridging the industry-academia gap. The SAS Advanced Analytics Lab was officially opened in 2013 at the Centre by the SAS Vice President for Middle East and Africa. Subsequently the Data Science programme of the Centre for BMI was listed on the SAS web site (the only programme outside the USA, see http://support.sas.com/learn/ap/prof/index.html#t4 and the video Shaping the Data Scientists of Tomorrow on the same web page). At the SAS Forum on Advanced Analytics at SAS Headquarters (Cary, USA) held in April 2015, experts from the Centre for BMI played a leading role as plenary speakers, panel participants and workshop facilitators.
In 2012 the Centre signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Duisenberg School of Finance (DSF) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, whereby two eligible BMI students are selected by the NWU for final evaluation by the DSF for their masters’ programme. Successful applicants receive a guaranteed 60% tuition fee waiver from the DSF including a guaranteed study loan from ING bank to cover the remainder of his/her tuition fees and other living expenses for the period of study at DSF. So far 6 BMI students have been proposed by NWU and DSF has accepted all of them into their masters’ programmes. At the end of 2015, three students (two of whom were actuarial students) completed their studies under this agreement. Their excellent performance has subsequently motivated the decision by DSF to increase the annual intake of BMI students to four. The Amsterdam Business School of the University of Amsterdam has offered 3 potential BMI students waivers of €2900 per person for studies towards a Master in International Finance.
In the beginning of 2016, Memoranda of Agreement was signed with the Albstadt-Sigmaringen University in Germany and Strathmore University in Kenya. This agreement involves the mutual exchange of graduate students between the post graduate courses and the mutual acceptance of certain training and research modules.
The Centre for BMI is currently negotiating a Memorandum of Agreement with the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS) whereby the MSc BMI with specialisation Business Analytics will be presented distance-delivery in collaboration with KSMS in mid-Africa. The Agreement also entails research collaboration and possible expansion to other BMI and NWU programmes. Discussions regarding the presentation of the Texas A&M distance learning programme (Statistics and Business Analytics) in Africa have been initiated.
The NWU’s Centre for BMI plays a leading role in organising the triennial international conference on Mathematics in Finance in the Kruger Park. The conference is organised by a consortium of four universities comprising of North-West University, the University of Pretoria, University of Cape Town and University of Johannesburg. This conference was held in 2014 for the 5th time and featured well-known actuaries and eminent world experts in financial risk research such as Paul Embrechts (ETH), Alexander McNeil (Heriot Watt), Rudiger Frey (Vienna), Dirk Tasche (Imperial College), and Jonathan Crook (Edinburgh) (see picture below). More than half of the participants of this conference are from Europe and the USA.
Industry collaboration and support
Industry partner Barclays Africa
Barclays Africa has been a seeding partner and has supported the Centre ever since its inception in 1998. The first 5 years was a capacity building phase but the Centre has since become sustainable and Barclays Africa expects the Centre to add value to its organisation in particular and the banking industry in general through its training and research programme. To this end Barclays Africa has also established an Applied Risk Research Committee, which manages and monitors research progress on a regular basis. The BMI research team has completed several projects for Barclays Africa and the local banking industry. The project reports are all classified and are not published in open sources. More than 60 reports have been delivered to the banking industry and most have received a high rating in terms of quality and relevance.
Industry partner SAS Institute
The SAS Institute recognized the Centre for outstanding innovation in bridging the gap between industry and academia. SAS has more than 4 million users and more than 40,000 customer sites worldwide, with more than 2000 universities using SAS software. The SAS Academic Intelligence Award was presented to the Centre for BMI in Lisbon at the SAS Forum International 2005, a major conference attended by more than 2600 delegates from all around the world.
In 2012 SAS Institute donated $300,000 to establish a new Advanced Analytics laboratory at the Centre. The funds were used to acquire state-of-the-art infrastructure and software to support the risk and business analytics research and industry directed research projects. It should be noted that, although SAS support the Centre, there is no pressure to exclusively use their software and students are also exposed to other programming languages like R, Java, Python, Hadoop and Visual Basic.
The Actuarial Science programme is accredited with the Institute/Faculty of Actuaries in the UK and the Actuarial Society of South Africa. Recently the Quantitative Risk Management programme received accreditation status from the Professional Risk Manager International Association (PRMIA) for Level I and II of their Professional Risk Managers (PRM) qualification. NWU is the third university world-wide and the first in Africa that received accreditation status from this internationally-recognised professional body.
More information: PRMIA's Accreditation Programme