Bookings now open for the 2022/2023 programme 

Aurora: Advance HE's Leadership Development Programme for Women

Launched in November 2013, Aurora is Advance HE’s leadership development initiative for women. It is run as a unique partnership bringing together leadership experts and higher education institutions to take positive action to address the under-representation of women in leadership positions in the sector. Led by a team of four leadership experts, participants will explore four key areas associated with leadership success: Identity, Impact and Voice; Politics and Influence; Core Leadership Skills; Adaptive Leadership Skills.

Aurora seeks to support women and their institutions to fulfil their leadership potential through thought provoking activities, collaborative problem solving activities and motivating stories supported by inspirational women role models. Participation embeds strong networks of early career women across the sector to share best practice, insights and experiences. It aims to enable women in academic and professional staff roles to think of themselves as future leaders.

Who is this for?

Aurora is for women up to and including senior lecturer level or professional services equivalent (up to Grade G) who wish to develop their leadership skills and who are interested in exploring leadership as an element of career progression. While most leadership programmes are aimed at leaders and managers already in role, Aurora is designed to engage with women at an earlier stage in their careers. It is not suitable for women already in a leadership role.

Training Delivery/Location

Advanced HE recognises that running the ‘core’ Aurora content (introduction, four development days and two action learning sets plus access to the networking events such as Coffee & Connect and Watch Parties) virtually over the course of the last two years has provided greater access for many, both in terms of attendance and cost. The majority of the programme will continue to be delivered virtually for 2022/2023.

Following feedback and consultation a face-to- face event has also been added for each cohort to take place towards the end of the programme and available to book from the start of the year. This event will build on this year’s sessions and will complete the Aurora journey. Advance HE feel at this current time this model represents the best balance between providing access and impactful design in a hybrid offer. 


Between October 2022 and July 2023 and participants need to attend all sessions for their cohort. All dates are listed on the Advance HE Aurora Website


The programme costs £975 (no VAT) and includes the face to face event. Approved places are funded by the delegate’s College/Service.

Advance HE are offering a discounted price of £925 per person for all bookings received before 30 September 2022.

Information you need to provide to the colleague who raises your purchase order:
Supplier: Advance HE (supplier 103146)
Cost of programme: £925 or £975 (no VAT)
Dates: (provide dates of the cohort you wish to attend)

Application Process

The programme runs annually and approval of applications is co-ordinated within your College/Service, as they directly fund the places. This means that your form will need to be countersigned, with a supporting statement from your line manager, and may then go through a further process of prioritisation within your College/Service.

Aurora Nomination Form 2022/2023

Aurora Application Process

Supporting the programme

The programme is supported by an Aurora Champion who provides guidance and is the main point of contact between Advance HE and Exeter.

Once delegates have had their place confirmed by Advance HE, they will need to find a Mentor – support and guidance on this will be provided by People Development once your booking has been processed.

Role Models from a range of institutions, including Exeter, attend the virtual workshops so that participants have contact with successful women in higher education displaying the values and characteristics suitable for a positive role model.

Further information can be found on the Aurora website

Feedback from past participants

  • Think critically about what you’re looking to get out of the Aurora programme; there may be other routes to developing your leadership skills, particularly if you have specific ideas and ways you’d like to develop, and the Aurora programme is relatively generic in its’ approach. However, if it is a broad introduction to many of the issues and opportunities around women in leadership and leading women that you’re after, this fits the bill.
  • Do the reading and reflective exercises; give yourself the time to attend and actively participate; make full use of your mentor.
  • The opportunity to network and speak to so many women was great and I did learn a lot about leadership skills. The talks from inspirational women who've gone far up the career ladder were heartening.
  • It is definitely a worthwhile experience that has given me a lot of confidence.

Alternative Development

If Aurora isn’t currently the right development opportunity for you or the funding isn’t available within your College/Service this year, please do explore the Learning and Development and/or Exeter Academic websites to see what other development may be available. You can also contact us if you have any questions about other development opportunities.