Words by Gajan Thiyagarajah

Every year, university summer holidays leave the Parkville campus vacant for floods of VCE students.

The 2014 VCE Summer School (VCESS) took place from 6-17 January, run by over 150 university student volunteers from around the state.

Established in 1971 at the University of Melbourne, VCESS is an academic program for Year 11 and 12 students, to help prepare them for their VCE subjects. The students also participate in extra-curricular activities, including trivia, a scavenger hunt, and a beach day.

2014 VCE student Hayley Kebbell saw VCESS as an opportunity to meet like-minded students. “My favourite part about the program would be the balanced approach to education—we had the classes, and then we’d have workshops or activities, which I felt were a great way to break things up.”

Students from rural areas can apply for accommodation at the university’s residential colleges. One major focus of the program is to assist those from ‘under-represented schools’ with low annual enrolments at the University of Melbourne, or students that have otherwise faced disadvantage in their schooling, to ensure they have equal opportunity for tertiary admission.

The accessibility of the program was something that appealed to VCESS 2014 student Nicole Ng. “The other VCE programs I looked at were very expensive,” she said. VCESS starts from $190 for the two weeks.

For 2014 VCESS Director Cassie Futcher, who was employed alongside three co-directors, the challenges of a tight budget and working long hours on the program paid off. “I was motivated to be a director because I was keen to take on more responsibility for a program I deeply care about, and had been involved with for three years,” she said. “I wanted to do work with an altruistic focus but also to challenge myself to be involved in all aspects of a not-for-profit, from recruitment, to admin, to barbecues!”