Aurora: Advance HE's Leadership Development Programme for Women

Launched in November 2013, Aurora is Advance HE’s leadership development initiative for women and those who identify as a woman.  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; Power and Politics; 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 and those who identify as women up to 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.

Location: The course takes place over six learning days at a number of locations in the UK, to save on travel expenses, we encourage participants to choose the nearest venue, Cardiff, London or Birmingham.

Dates for the 2019-20 sessions are between Oct 2019 and July 2020 and participants need to attend all sessions.  

Cost: The costs (course fees (£1,050), plus travel and expenses) are funded entirely by the College/Service. 

Process:  The programme runs annually and approval of applications is coordinated by your College/Service, as they fund places. This means that your form will be countersigned with a supporting statement from your manager/supervisor and then will be prioritised within the College/Service.  

For more detail on the application process, please see:

1. Aurora 2019-20 PS & College Application Process

2. Aurora Nomination Form 2019-20

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

Once delegates have had their place confirmed by Advance HE, they will need to find a Mentor.

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

Visit 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.