The Higher Education Studies Program is offered by higher education institutions (universities) and the VCAA. Two types of study, Extension and Advanced Standing are offered through this program.
An Extension study is a first-year Higher Education study that is:
equivalent in content and assessment in every respect to one or more of current first-year Higher Education studies and constitutes at least 20 per cent of a full-time first-year university course
of a level for a high-achieving student and therefore is a clear advance on an identified VCE Unit 3 and 4 study and commensurate in workload with an additional VCE study
of a level that will normally allow the student, on successful completion, to proceed to second year study at the Higher Education institution in that discipline.
An Advanced Standing study is a first-year Higher Education study that is:
- equivalent in content and assessment in every respect to one or more of current first- year Higher Education studies and constitutes at least 20 per cent of a full-time first-year course
- is comprised of curriculum not available in any current VCE studies and therefore is not linked to any current VCE Unit 3 and 4 study
- of a level that will normally allow the student, on successful completion, to proceed to second year study at the Higher Education institution in that discipline.
Why do a Higher Education study?
Involvement in the Higher Education Program offers students access to a range of potential benefits, including:
- Academic challenge in a broader range of studies
- Credit towards an undergraduate qualification at the institution where the study was satisfactorily completed
- Contribution towards satisfactory completion for the award of the VCE as a Unit 3–4 sequence without a study score
- Contribution to the calculation of the ATAR via an increment for a fifth or sixth study.
Note: Only one Higher Education Study may contribute towards satisfactory completion for the award of the VCE.
Higher Education studies are designed for high-achieving, interested and able VCE students.
Schools wishing to join the program should discuss their participation directly with the Higher Education institution concerned. Schools also have the responsibility of counselling students regarding the prerequisite requirements for each Higher Education study.
Schools recommend students for participation in the program. The principal of the school will certify that selected students meet the guidelines provided by the Higher Education institutions, which may include specific tests.
Where students have completed the VCE preparatory study and/or any other prerequisite requirement of the Higher Education study in a previous year, they are required to have an active enrolment and satisfactorily complete at least one Units 3 and 4 sequence towards the VCE, in the same year in which they enrol in the Higher Education study.
Higher Education in the VCE recommendations
In 2019 a Higher Education Study (HES) Focus Group was formed to discuss the results of a review of the Higher Education Studies in the VCE program. The Focus Group was comprised of representatives from each school sector, participating universities and the VCAA. Several issues were discussed, and the outcome is a range of
recommendations for students, schools and participating universities.
How to prepare
Normally, for Extension studies, students enrolling will have demonstrated high achievement across all studies and have a VCE study score of 40 or more in the preparatory study where applicable. In some instances, however, students are allowed to enrol in the prerequisite VCE study concurrently with the Higher Education study.
Advanced Standing studies do not necessarily have a prerequisite or co-requisite structure in relation to current VCE studies.
Making programs accessible
To help students fit Higher Education studies in with their VCE, universities deliver programs in a variety of ways. They may be delivered on university campus, through schools, or through distance education and tutorials, depending on the institution.
Who teaches the programs?
Programs are taught either by university staff or by secondary school teachers who are recognised by the institutions as qualified to teach at that level and in that discipline.
Higher Education Studies and completing the VCE
A Higher Education study may contribute towards satisfactory completion for the award of the VCE as an unscored Unit 3 and 4 sequence. Students who successfully complete a Higher Education study have the title of the study, the year of enrolment and the Higher Education institution name reported on their VCE Statement of Results.
VTAC advises that where a student successfully completes a Higher Education study, and where applicable co-requisite or prerequisite conditions were met, and subject to the restricted combinations outlined in Victorian Tertiary Entrance Requirements (VICTER), the study can contribute to the student’s ATAR as a fifth or sixth study via an increment.
Schools should note that if a student undertakes two Higher Education studies VTAC will count only one study towards the increment.
Where students withdraw from or fail to satisfactorily complete the VCE preparatory study either as a prerequisite or concurrently, which is a requirement of the Higher Education study, they will not be eligible for a Higher Education study increment in their ATAR calculation regardless of their performance in the Higher Education study.
For more information on how a Higher Education study contributes to the calculation of the ATAR please refer to the
VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook or contact
Principles and procedures for the inclusion of Higher Education Studies in the VCE
Summary of Higher Education studies offered by participating universities
Summary of the VCAA approved Higher Education Studies offered by participating universities in 2020
Where to go for more information
Note: These links take you out of the VCAA website to websites not maintained or funded by the VCAA.
Australian Catholic University
La Trobe University
University of Melbourne