The University of Cape Town (UCT) is now the first university on the continent to offer a degree specifically designed to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to embrace the technological revolution in the financial services sector.
The university has announced that it will offer a new degree – a Master of Data Science with a specialisation in Financial Technology – for the first time in January 2018.
“We are in constant and close contact with the financial services industry and know that it is facing a shifting demand for skills,” said course convener Dr Co-Pierre Georg.
“In the past, companies were mainly looking for advanced mathematical- and modeling skills. There still is demand for these skills, but by far the largest demand now is for students who have a thorough understanding of finance combined with a mastery of modern data analytics and software development skills,” he said.
“Our students will be able to develop these skills in the two most exciting areas of fintech: machine learning and blockchain technologies.”
The degree will reportedly be highly interdisciplinary and convened together with the Department of Statistical Science at UCT so as to address a broad set of skills.
According to associate professor and HOD, Francesca Little, the degree will give students a thorough understanding of the latest methods in statistical learning.
This includes the extremely exciting field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, she said.
The degree will also focus heavily on the new blockchain technology that is behind new cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
According to Georg there is already extraordinary demand for the degree – especially because Cape Town-based students can do the degree part-time.
“This is quite important to us since we want working finance professionals to be able to complete the degree and acquire the skills to thrive in a changing industry,” he said.
“For students who want to do the degree full time, we do offer full scholarships to ensure that nobody will be excluded financially.”