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

2022/23 Cohort dates and nomination process

AdvanceHE have confirmed that the cohorts will be virtual again this year, with a strongly recommended in person networking event at the location of your choice. The online elements will again be charged at the reduced rate of £750 and the in person element at £250, making the total cost £1,000 for delegates.

We expect there will again be 7 online cohorts beginning in October, with the Scotland cohort beginning in November and a further 4 or 5 regional cohorts beginning each month up to February / March 2023. 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 online dates which work best for them and ensure they have the £1,000 funding available to attend the virtual and in person elements.

You will be able to register your interest in the cohorts once AdvanceHE have advertised their specific dates for 2022/23 and we will then send you the booking link to register with them directly.

We expect to have the booking links by mid-June and will advertise them on this page as soon as they’re 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 however we do expect Scotland to fill quickly.

Below is an example of how the online cohorts were delivered last year:

We’ll update these pages as soon as we have further information from AdvanceHE.

Aurora Mentoring

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


Aurora mentoring information

Mentoring connections support and resources

Platform One

Guidance on using Platform One

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.