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.

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 webinar (2 hours)
  • attend four development days (5 hours), and two action learning set days organised by participants in their assigned groups;
  • 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 payment of the £750 fee either through local business area or individual Purchase Order
  • support staff member to select an appropriate mentor, if required


2021/2022 Cohort dates and nomination process

The Aurora cohorts are being held virtually again for 2021/22 and the 7 regional cohort dates are noted in the document below.

With the move to online cohorts and additional places now being available there is no longer a competitive nomination process, meaning there is no internal paperwork to be completed. You will simply need to ensure that you have the support of your manager/local area to attend all of the elements and raise a purchase order for the £750 fee made out to AdvanceHE.



To register

Please follow these two steps.

Step 1 Select your preferred cohort below:

Cohort 1 = South of England

13th October 2021 to 9th March 2022

Select this cohort
Cohort 2 = Scotland

3rd November 2021 to 23rd March 2022

This cohort is now full
Cohort 3 = Ireland & Northern Ireland

24th November 2021 to 11th May 2022

Select this cohort
Cohort 4 = Wales and South West England

13th January 2022 to 16th June 2022

Select this cohort
Cohort 5 = North of England

3rd February 2022 to 30th June 2022

Select this cohort
Cohort 6 = The Midlands

15th February 2022 to 5th July 2022

Select this cohort
Cohort 7 = Ireland & UK

8th March 2022 to 12th July 2022

Select this cohort

Step 2 You will then be sent a link to register directly with AdvanceHE. You will need to create a MyAdvanceHE, if you don’t already have one, to complete this step.

Cohorts are capped at 35 delegates per institution for each regional cohort. We expect this will result in the Scotland cohort filling quickly, however there are more than enough places across the 7 regional Aurora cohorts. You can book up to 2 weeks before the cohort begins or becomes full. This means the final date for booking will be 22nd February 2022 for the UK & Ireland cohort. 


Further information

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

Aurora Further Information 

You can also view the recording of a recent Q&A session and supporting documents below:

Video: Aurora Briefing 2021/2022 Recording
HR Briefing about Aurora 2021/2022.

You may also find the following University of Edinburgh resources useful:

Aurora mentoring information

Mentoring connections support and resources

Platform One

Guidance on using Platform One


Any queries

Please email the Learning and Organisation Development team.

Learning and Development Mailbox