Human Resources

Leadership Foundation: Aurora Programme - Development opportunity for women

The University has committed to the Aurora Programme run by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. This programme is run by women for women and draws on successful women from higher education and other sectors as speakers and role models to share their experiences and knowledge about the world of work and career development. 

While most leadership programmes are aimed at leaders and managers already in role, Aurora enables 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. It combines education, mentoring and project work to provide a learning experience with more enduring impact.   It addresses the under-representation of women in senior posts in higher education. Many influential stakeholders including Vice-Chancellors, HEFCE and the Equality Challenge Unit agree that positive action is required to remedy this. 

Aurora is for women in roles from grades 6 to 9 in either academic or professional services, ambitious for a career in the sector and interested in exploring leadership and management as one option for progression. Aurora consists of five interlinked days – four development days and an action learning set.  Aurora has been organised regionally and participants are encouraged to attend, where possible, the London or Cardiff cohorts.

The development days are:




London II

Identity impact and  Voice

 12 October  2017

 31 January  2018

 8 March  2018

Power and politics

 16 November  2017

 28 February 2018

 24 April  2018

Action learning

 7 December  2017

 21 March  2018

 17 May  2018

Core leadership skills

 18 January  2018

 26 April  2018

 12 June  2018

Adaptive leadership skills

 15 February  2018

 23 May  2018

 5 July  2018


Further information on the programme is available from the LFHE Aurora website.

Fifty-seven of our female members of staff have taken part in the programme over the last four years, some of the most recent attendees had this to say about their experience:

"I felt it was the right time in my career to put myself forward for Aurora as I wanted to show that I was serious about developing my leadership skills, and I was delighted to be chosen to attend. The course was a fantastic opportunity to network and to be signposted to a vast amount of online resources, I would highly recommend it. For me it gave me the chance (and dedicated time) to reflect on where I was in my career, where I wanted to be, and even the confidence to apply for a promotional role which I had not previously felt ready for. It also made me realise how important it is to have a career mentor and the support from fellow Aurorans has been very valuable so far."

“Aurora provided a great opportunity to take time out and improve my perspective and focus.  The events were well-structured and packed with informative sessions and inspiring speakers.  There highlights for me were the sense of support and community, and the Action Learning Set activity.  Two words if you are thinking about it:  DO IT!”

"I am, by nature, a rather cynical person.  Sitting with a large group of women (and it really is a large group, 200+) listening to 'motivational' talks and 'inspirational' stories is not something that I would normally go for. Furthermore I am the primary caregiver for my two children and I wondered whether the 'juggling' that would be required to spend five long days in London would be worth it!  HOWEVER, the Aurora programme did not disappoint. It is so much more than 'motivational' talks and 'inspirational' stories.  Not only has it offered me a fantastic opportunity to network with women working in HE across the UK, but I can honestly say that it has inspired me to move my career along.  After each 'Aurora day' I have made a point of acting upon two or three great ideas or suggestions that have been made during the small group work or my action learning set. Having attended the sessions I feel confident in my leadership skills and ready to tackle challenges that no doubt I will be faced with in the future."

“Attending The Aurora programme, was a very rewarding experience and provided me with a ‘toolkit’ to be a more effective leader.  Through personal reflection, which is very much encouraged, I further developed my own style of leadership which has been rewarded with positive outcomes.  Apart from the programme itself I have learned a great deal from discussions with other women in HE that have faced or are facing similar challenges to myself; the action learning set was particularly of benefit.  I highly recommend attending the programme!”

“Taking part in the Aurora programme gave me an opportunity for further self-discovery and helped me to break some of my self-imposed barriers, boosting my professional development and personal growth. It enabled me to better understand my strengths, learn from my experiences, also taught me to better understand other people and their motivation. I find all of these invaluable in my new role now.”

Participants from the previous cohorts would be willing to discuss their experiences of the programme, so if you are interested in learning more, please contact:




Dr Jenny Burbage

Recruitment & External Promotion Lead 

Department of Sport and Exercise Science

Sarah Turner 

School Manager

School of Art and Design

Dr Laurel Forster Senior Lecturer

School of Media and Performing  Arts 

Dr Lucy Akehurst 

Principal Lecturer- Associate Head (Innovation)

Department of Psychology
Dr Marisa van der Merwe

Principal Lecturer in Pharmaceutics and Course Leader – MPharm (Hons) Pharmacy programme 

School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Science
Lyuda Wade

Project Manager –Programme Office 

Information Services
Julie Clark

Data Analyst- Registry Systems  Development and Support (RSDS) 

Academic Regsitry
Dr Melita Lazell

Lecturer in International   Political Economy

School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
Dr Lisa Sugiura  Senior Lecturer

Institute of Criminal Justice Studies


In addition, if you are interested in applying for Aurora, we are holding a Q&A drop in session on Wednesday 21st June 2017 from 2.30pm – 4.30pm in Eldon West, Room 1.05.  The session will be attended by Aurora alumni from previous cohorts, who will be pleased to talk about their experiences of the programme and provide advice and guidance on the application. 

Next steps

If you are interested in being part of this programme, please speak to your Dean of Faculty or Head of Professional Services at the earliest opportunity as your application should have their support.  Once you have spoken to them, please send your letter of application, following the Application Guidelines, and with a brief supporting case from your Dean/Head of Professional Service to by Friday 21st July.  

You can also download the Application Guidelines as a pdf.

If you have any questions please email

Usually we would not expect staff to attend Aurora and Springboard programmes in the same year.  Please discuss with your Manager.