The history of the VCE

What’s changed in vocational and applied learning for students in Victoria: From VCAL to VCE VM and VPC.

Victorian senior secondary education has changed

There’s a new way to get the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).

The VCE now includes the Vocational Major (VCE VM). This is a two-year program that’s part of the VCE.

The Victorian Pathways Certificate (VPC) is also now available. This is for those who need more flexibility in their learning.

These new options replace the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). VCE VM and VPC both offer an improved curriculum to prepare students for:

  • further study or training
  • an apprenticeship
  • getting started in the workforce.

Why VCAL was replaced

These changes are a result of the Review into vocational and applied learning pathways in senior secondary schooling(opens in a new window) (the Firth Review). The review found improved vocational and applied learning options were needed in schools.

Students now have greater access to relevant vocational education and applied learning opportunities. Whatever their interests and passions, students can pursue it under the new VCE.

History of senior secondary school qualifications

The introduction of the VCE Vocational Major is the most significant change to the VCE since it was introduced in 1987. This timeline explains how senior secondary education in Victoria has changed over time.

  • 1970

    Higher School Certificate (HSC) introduced

  • 1975

    Tertiary Orientation Program (TOP) introduced

  • 1984

    School Tertiary Certificate (STC) and Technical Year 12 (T12) introduced

  • 1987

    Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) introduced and incorporates HSC, STC, TOP and T12

  • 1991

    VCE fully implemented and replaces HSC

  • 1995

    Vocational educational training (VET) included as an option within the VCE

  • 1999

    Scored assessment for VCE VET introduced

  • 2003

    Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) introduced

  • 2019

    Review into vocational and applied learning pathways in senior secondary schooling commissioned

  • 2020

    Review published with 38 recommendations to transform delivery of senior secondary education

  • 2023

    • Vocational Major (VCE VM) introduced into VCE
    • Victorian Pathways Certificate (VPC) introduced 
    • VCAL replaced by VCE VM and VPC
  • 2025

    All VCE students eligible to choose Work Related Skills and Personal Development Skills units