SAS highlights NWU's innovative approach to developing data scientistsBy Staff Writer 5 December 2023 | Categories: news
During a SAS Educators hosted webinar, global analytics leader SAS shed light on the transformative partnership between the North-West University (NWU) Centre for Business Mathematics and Informatics (BMI) and leading financial institutions. This collaboration, accentuated by the Centre's extensive corporate engagements, represents a good example for real-world, industry-relevant education in South Africa.
Professor Helgard Raubenheimer, Director of the NWU Centre for BMI, emphasised the Centre’s pivot from a traditional academic focus to one that emphasises industry readiness. He said, “Our flagship programme, the Masters Degree in Business Mathematics and Informatics, epitomises this shift. Instead of solely academic pursuits, our students work on genuine industry projects, a hallmark of our over 20-year partnership with the industry and especially Absa bank.”
Echoing this sentiment, Marelize Swart, Head Model Development CIB at Absa Group, highlighted the mutual benefits of this collaboration. “Our long-standing relationship with NWU has always been fruitful. These students bring innovative ideas, while absorbing invaluable insights from seasoned professionals.”
Discussing the curriculum, Professor Raubenheimer mentioned the importance of real-world business experience. He detailed, “Students embark on a journey, starting with coursework and culminating in industry directed research projects. This approach ensures they’re not just academically proficient but also industry ready.”
The symbiotic nature of this relationship was further illustrated by the Centre's use of SAS software. Given full access to SAS software, students are well-equipped to handle intricate data and analytical challenges. Professor Raubenheimer noted, “With nearly 70% of our local and international partners being SAS customers, our students receive a holistic training approach, with a blend of theoretical knowledge and hands-on SAS proficiency.”
André Zitzke, Senior Academic Programme Manager for Africa at SAS, added, “The NWU's forward-thinking approach ensures their students achieve productivity faster upon joining organisations. SAS’s collaboration with NWU has been essential in bridging the skill gap in the world by equipping students with both theoretical, analytical and programming skills essential for the financial services industry.”
Confidentiality, a cornerstone of such projects, was also touched upon. Both the university and the bank have stringent measures in place, ensuring data integrity and compliance with regulations.
Concluding the session, Professor Raubenheimer mentioned the expansive reach of their industry collaborations. “Our partners span various sectors, from banking and government to technology companies, including SAS. Our students have been instrumental in providing solutions across these industries, underlining the versatility and quality of our training.”
In an age where data-driven decisions are paramount, such collaborations between educational institutions and industry giants like SAS and Absa pave the way for a brighter, data-empowered future.
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