Students in a classroom

Two of the most common questions we hear at The Academy are “what is VCAL?” and “can my son still get into uni after The Academy?” – let’s explore the answers here.

Firstly, let’s get a better understanding of VCAL.

VCAL stands for the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. Its approach to learning is designed for a more hands-on, practical type of young learner. VCAL’s curriculum includes developing vital knowledge and skills in literacy, numeracy, and personal development, as well as helping students gain an important understanding of the workforce and the skills required for a range of successful career pathways.

VCAL’s key pillar is that students ‘learn by doing’.

VCAL at The Academy is no exception to this either. Our students combine theory studied in the classroom with hands-on learning in a variety of settings, including on the oval or in the gym, in workplace environments, and by working directly with external businesses or organisations.

For example, in their numeracy units, students use wearable GPS trackers, and other industry-level sports technology, to collect statistical data on their own football and fitness abilities to analyse and learn practical mathematical calculations in the classroom. In their Personal Development units, students work in groups to start and run their own businesses, designing and sourcing real products to sell to their peers and families, with profits supporting a chosen charity.

Male student running

But can students still pathway to university after The Academy? Short answer: absolutely!

Whilst students wishing to complete further study at university have traditionally completed VCE to receive an ATAR, universities are increasingly enrolling new students based on a range of alternative qualifications other than their ATAR score. In 2018, more than half of all students (58.4%) were accepted into university based on having one of these alternative entry criteria*, including recognition of previous work experiences or completion of eligible vocational-level qualifications.

One of those eligible vocational-level qualifications is the Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation, which students at The Academy complete during the Launch Pad phase of their Year 12.

As the name suggests, the Cert IV in Tertiary Preparation help students learn a range of general life skills and knowledge aimed at preparing them to navigate the transition to life beyond school, as well as the specific skills required for successful tertiary study, including advanced communication, researching, time management, and teamwork skills.

Many of The Academy’s previous graduates have used this qualification to directly apply and receive acceptance into a range of university courses, including bachelor degrees in sport and exercise science, business and sport management, outdoor and physical education, youth and social work, and even engineering.

2020 graduate, Liam Conway, is now studying a degree in Business at Victoria University and said, “Launch Pad and the Cert IV made me feel prepared [for university] and was an eye-opener to really understand what uni would be like.”

At The Academy we’re proving that a real-world education based on students’ passions and hands-on approach to learning is helping them achieve in the classroom and beyond.

To learn more about The Academy’s curriculum and pathway opportunities, register to attend an upcoming Information Session at

*Pitman, T. (2019, October 22). Don’t stress, your ATAR isn’t the final call. There are many ways to get into university. The Conversation.