Human Resources


Advance HE's initiative for women and those who identify as a woman, prior to taking their first significant step up to a leadership role.

What is the Aurora initiative?

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.

While most leadership programmes are aimed at leaders and managers already in role, Aurora is designed to enable a wide range of women, in academic and professional roles in higher education, to engage with leadership development at an earlier stage in their careers.

Who is Aurora for?

Aurora is for those who identify as women, up to senior lecturer level or the professional services equivalent, working in a university, college or related organisation who would like to develop and explore issues relating to leadership roles and responsibilities. Participants should have the endorsement of their line manager and be committed to developing and enhancing their career.

2023/24 Cohort dates and nomination process

The majority of the cohort will be delivered online via zoom, with one in person whole cohort networking event with guest speakers where you will consider Your Future in Higher Education. Delegates will also have the option to host their 2nd and final action learning set (ALS) where or however they prefer.


There are 7 regional cohorts with South of England starting on 26th September and the Scotland cohort beginning on the 3rd October. A further 5 regional cohorts then begin each month up to March 2024. We therefore expect to have more places than there will be interest for and so do not require a competitive nomination process this year. Anyone interested in attending should simply select the cohort dates which work best for them and ensure they have a Purchase Order number for the £1025 cost to attend the virtual and in person elements.  

You can register your interest below and we will then send you the booking link to register with AdvanceHE.

South of England (Started)

Scotland (Started)

Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland (Started)

Wales & South West England (Started)

The Midlands (Sold out)

North of England (Sold out)

UK & Republic of Ireland - Spaces available


You can register your interest up to 2 weeks before your preferred cohort dates begin, meaning registration will still be available up to February 2023 for the later cohorts.

Exact timings and locations are still to be confirmed however we expect something similar to the following:

  • Welcome and introduction session – 10am to 1pm
  • Workshops and Action Learning set days – 10am to 3pm
  • In person event day – 10am to 4pm (includes delegate lunch and refreshments)

Participants will be asked to:

  • consider their objectives for attending the initiative and select an appropriate University of Edinburgh mentor to support them on their development journey
  • attend an introductory session
  • attend four development days
  • participate in two action learning set days (the first is on ZOOM and the 2nd can be in person/virtual or hybrid if the group wish)
  • undertake self-directed learning, aligned with developing interests
  • be prepared to access leadership opportunities and champion for change.

Please see here for a more detailed overview:

Supporting managers will be asked to:

  • have development conversations to ensure Aurora is the correct development option and help delegate set development objectives
  • ensure that delegates on Aurora are supported to attend all of the required events. This may mean helping to reallocate workload to ensure availability for development days and self-directed learning
  • authorise/arrange payment of the fee either through local business area or individual Purchase Order
  • support staff member to select an appropriate mentor, if required
  • support the development of the delegate past the Aurora initiative

Aurora Mentoring

If you are interested in mentoring an Aurora delegate this year, you may find the following resources useful:



​​​​​​​The aurora programme was really helpful, not only for the new knowledge and skills I have learnt, but also the experience of networking with other female leaders. I was panicking about my future career as a new mum before the programme, but now I feel much better as there so many new things can be done to keep improving myself, and there are so many people can support me and have helped me with my worries

It's a really well organised and meaningful journey, thank you so much. Of all leadership trainings, this is one of the most refreshing one, every speaker was so reflective and inspiring, thank you.

It opened my eyes that I have seen leadership in a far to narrow, prejudiced and traditional frame.

It was an inspiring experience, eye-opening in many aspects. I especially valued that all the speakers were bringing their own sometimes painful experiences for us to learn from and were brave to share them with us.

A great initiative and space to really focus on these broader questions, take stock, have a stronger sense of what I'm about, and some tangible ways to make things happen. The programme was immediately helpful in empowering me to try and contribute to constructive dialogue around that.

It was great to have the opportunity to do a training course over time rather than a one off session - more of a journey. No other course has offered so much peer feedback, dialogue and support. Great to have time to talk to others and to hear from role models.

I found the experience incredibly helpful and really enjoyed it. It was great meeting with other women and sharing our experiences.

Great course, fantastic speakers and facilitators. Even though it was delivered via Zoom there was a great sense of community, which came from the facilitators.

I had mixed feelings before doing it, bit anxious too. Was a really positive, uplifting and useful experience

A brilliant course, well-resourced and well-run with lots of inspirational speakers and participants. Feel very lucky to have had this opportunity. Just the boost I needed in this difficult year

Further information

Further information regarding how the Aurora initiative works, case studies and testimonials are available from the AdvanceHE web pages:

Aurora Further Information 

Aurora 2024/2025

Register interest for 2024/2025 using this form: Registration Form