What is VCESS?

Plenty of students around Victoria, particularly from rural areas, never get a chance to make the most of their VCE studies because of where they live or go to school. The VCE Summer School exists to alleviate educational disadvantage in Victoria through our two week headstart program for year 11 and 12 VCE students, primarily targeted at students from disadvantaged or under-represented schools. Over the two week program, students are tutored by qualified teachers and university-age students in the skills they need to study, learn and succeed in VCE. The aim of the VCE Summer School program is to give students from disadvantaged, low socio-economic and refugee backgrounds a head start on their final years of secondary education.

With this in mind, VCE Summer School also recognises that disadvantage comes in many forms, and accepts applications from students regardless of their financial background or the school they attend. 

When and where is VCE Summer School (VCESS)?

VCESS is a two-week program that operates each January from the University of Melbourne. The 2022 program will run from the 10th to 21st of January. The 2022 program will be run on the University of Melbourne campus and online, following COVID-safe guidelines. 

What will a day at VCESS look like?

The 2022 program will be delivered in a hybrid format, with some elements online and some in-person. Students will be invited on campus for four days of the program, where each day will be different. Activities will include a tour of the University campus, an opportunity to attend a VCE English lecture, and various workshops focused on wellbeing, practical learning, and study skills. During online days, students will have academic classes and free time to take a break, study independently and meet with VCESS tutors for extra support.

Below is the 2021 timetable (for an online program); you can expect each day to run from approximately 9am to 4:30pm. Once enrolled, and a little closer to the program, we’ll send you your personal timetable. All students attend for the two weeks, with each coloured block being filled by one of your selected subjects.

How much does VCESS cost?

As the VCE Summer School is targeted at students from disadvantaged backgrounds, we work hard to ensure that cost is not a barrier to students looking to excel in their education. You can read more about our Scholarships and Bursaries here.

The cost of running the program has varied significantly since before the COVID-19 pandemic. To understand how costs may vary in the future, we have included the costs from previous years for additional context. The cost of the 2021 program was $50, which included all classes, materials, activities, workshops and seminars. The cost of the 2022 program is still being determined, but will likely be similar to the 2020 in-person program, which cost $219 for non-residential students and $419 for residential students (who received two weeks’ food and accommodation). 

Why should I choose VCESS instead of other lecture/program providers?

VCESS focuses on giving students the tools to excel in years 11 and 12 across all facets of their life, not just academia.

The classes offered in each subject allow students to gain an advantage on their studies, and having university-aged tutors and teachers means that students are able to gain insights into their subjects from those who have excelled in their studies and remember what it is like to be students. Additionally, the small class sizes at VCE Summer School (over 60% of classes in 2017 contained 10 students or fewer, and classes have a maximum of 15 students) and optional one-on-one tutoring means that students are easily able to seek out their tutors for extra help – whether that be for help with the content covered in classes or if there’s something in their holiday homework that needs clarification.

Meanwhile, an extensive activities and workshop program means that students can learn new skills and gain an insight into what life might be like beyond high school. Many of our students are surprised to discover that their years in VCE can actually be enjoyable (something that sitting in a lecture theatre for hours on end doesn’t necessarily teach them).

At VCESS, we also recognise that the stresses of going through the final years of secondary education can take a psychological toll on students. Our Welfare team helps to ensure that students stay in the right frame of mind throughout years 11 and 12 and that their mental health is looked after in what is a stressful time in a young person’s life.

Finally, and most importantly, VCE Summer School believes that the disadvantages (financial or otherwise) that students face should not be a barrier to receiving a high quality education. The program has a heavy focus towards correcting the disadvantage that currently exists in the Victorian education system, meaning an extremely affordable price for all students. Additionally, community-funded bursaries are available to ensure that no student is forced to miss out on the opportunity to advance their education through VCESS as a result of financial difficulty. 

How long has VCE Summer School been running?

VCE Summer School has been proudly run by the Student Union at the University of Melbourne since 1971. The 2022 Program will be the 51st year of VCESS, and (Covid-safe guidelines permitting) its 50th in-person program!

Studying at VCE Summer School

How is the program structured and timetabled at VCESS?

The program will be structured as a mixture of classroom activities, one-on-one tutoring, independent activities, workshops and seminars. There will be ample time spent on both academic and non academic activities so that students get a taste of the VCE subjects that they are studying in the coming year, an introduction to university as well as social opportunities to meet VCE students across Victoria.

In 2022, the program will be delivered in a hybrid format with four in-person days focused on further study, practical learning, and social activities. Limited online events and workshops will also be organised, and any in-person academic material such as the VCE English lecture will be recorded for students. 

The remaining online days will cover academic classes, ensuring their delivery will not be affected by any isolation requirements, inability to travel, or other changes that may occur in January. We recognise the importance of balance and time away from working online, so long breaks and additional study support will be provided during the academic program. 

What are the class sizes like at VCESS?

VCESS prides itself on having small classes that promise a great deal of tutor interaction and more personalised learning. VCESS restricts the maximum size of its classes to 15 students, and in 2017 over 60% of classes contained 10 students or fewer. 

Will I receive notes or other study materials when I enrol in VCE Summer School?

Yes! Students receive a subject booklet of up to 40 pages in each of their subjects, which will contain the necessary materials for their classes and handy hints to help students excel in their studies for the coming year. 

Should I bring holiday homework to VCESS?

Definitely! Not only do students have independent study periods in which they can complete their holiday homework, it can also be arranged for a student to have one-on-one tutoring that will allow them to brush up on any material that needs revising or clarify any concepts that are not easily understood. If students feel really confident, they can even ask to cover more advanced topics! 

I do some pretty obscure subjects. Will I be able to find a tutor at VCESS who can help me?

Absolutely! At VCESS we pride ourselves on offering the widest range of subjects of any academic program in the state. We appreciate that certain subjects can be extremely difficult for most students to find tutoring for, particularly those in the area of fine arts and Languages Other Than English (LOTE). If a subject you are taking doesn’t appear there, please get in touch, and we’ll do our best to find you someone for 2022! You can contact us via email at summerschool@union.unimelb.edu.au

Will I still have time to have fun at VCE Summer School?

You definitely will! VCESS prides itself on promoting a healthy study-life balance, running an extensive program of fun activities and interesting one-hour workshops.  

I study the International Baccalaureate (IB). Can I attend VCESS?

Unfortunately VCE Summer School is unable to offer classes to students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate. You may instead take the VCE equivalent of your IB subjects if you would still like to attend the program.  If you would like to see VCESS offer IB subjects in the future, please send an email to the VCE Summer School office at summerschool@union.unimelb.edu.au, as it helps us understand the needs of the student population. 

I study Vocational Education and Training (VET) subjects. Can I attend VCESS?

Unfortunately VCE Summer School is unable to offer tutoring to students enrolled in Vocational Education and Training subjects. If you would like to see VCESS offer VET subjects in the future, please send an email to the VCE Summer School office at summerschool@union.unimelb.edu.au, as it helps us understand the needs of the student population. 

I’ll be away for some of the program. Can I still come to VCESS?

Yes! However, as the costs of the program are used to cover materials, we are unable to offer discounted places if students miss days of the program.  If you’re going to be away for more than three or four days of the program, it’s best to contact the Directors at summerschool@unimelb.edu.au to discuss your options. 

Applying for VCE Summer School

How do I apply for VCESS?

Applications for the 2022 program are open. The application process has two parts: the first part is an application for the program to be completed by 13 December, and the second part will be a confirmation of enrolment which may require help from a parent or guardian and is to be completed by 20 December. Instructions are provided at the beginning of the form.

You can submit an application for VCESS 2022 here: https://communications23.typeform.com/to/MmNJ6SZZ

I’m not sure I can afford to attend VCE Summer School. Are there other ways of getting financial help?

VCE Summer School has the potential to organise financial bursaries for students who cannot afford the costs of the program. This allows students who would otherwise be unable to attend the program to come along at no cost. 

These bursaries are organised by arranging sponsorship from community organisations such as Rotary Clubs, with whom VCESS has a proud tradition of helping students in need. If you require a bursary or are unsure as to whether or not you would qualify for a bursary, please contact the VCE Summer School via email (summerschool@union.unimelb.edu.au). The community organisations that VCE Summer School interacts with are always keen to help out students, so if you’re unsure about whether or not to apply for a bursary, VCE Summer School would encourage you to do so.