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

AdvanceHE have confirmed that Aurora cohorts will be held virtually again for 2021/22. Cohort dates will be announced in June at which point we will invite nominations to be submitted.

As demand for places is often greater than the number of places available, local areas may be required to prioritise which delegates are awarded a place. This is done using the information in the delegate nomination form.

Please return your completed nomination form to your local Aurora contact as listed below:

Local contact:

University Secretary’s Group – Jamie Tait

Information Services Group 

Corporate Services Group

Finance Directorate 

College of Science and Engineering 

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine 

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences 

Further information

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

Aurora webpage