AdvanceHE Aurora Leadership Development Programme

 Logo for Aurora programme

Aurora is the AdvanceHE’s leadership development programme for those identifing as women. Aimed at those in academic and professional roles, the programme brings together leadership experts and higher education institutions to take positive action to address the under-representation of women in leadership positions in the sector. Over the past five years more than 4,600 women from 220 institutions across the UK and Ireland have participated. The ten women selected from across the university completed the programme in March 2019.

University participants complete the programme

"This represents a huge undertaking for each of the participants: involving attendance at four development days in Edinburgh; taking an active role in an action learning set; engaging in a wide range of preparatory and follow-up learning activities and establishing a relationship with a mentor from within the university.  Their ability to find the time, resources and determination to create the space to engage in learning is admirable. They have emerged from the programme smiling and full of inspiration." Ann Tilbury, LTA

Aurora Programme Participants plus Fiona McLean

The 2018 University of the Highlands and Islands Aurorans are:

  • Antonia Thomas, Lecturer, Archaeology, Humanities and Gaelic, Orkney College, UHI
  • Anna-Wendy Stevenson, Programme Leader, Lews Castle College, UHI
  • Diana Macleod, Lecturer, North Highland College, UHI
  • Fiona Gunn, Professional Development Manager, Inverness College, UHI
  • Helen Coker, Programme Leader, Inverness College, UHI
  • Jane Edwards, Student Engagement Officer, Perth College, UHI
  • Lindsay Vare, Geochemist, Scottish Association for Marine Science, UHI
  • Nicola Smith, Head of Careers and Employability, Executive Office, UHI
  • Rosemary McCormack, Head of Curriculum, Programme Leader, Moray College, UHI
  • Raeanne Miller, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Executive Office, UHI

Next steps

Over the coming months the Aurorans will be supported by a mentor and will contribute to the initial evaluation activities and plans to maintain and develop momentum across the university.  For more information please contact Ann Tilbury via the LTA by emailing

Presentation at International Women's Day 2019

Their first opportunity to share their experiences was to present at the University’s second International Women’s Day celebrations on Friday 8 March 2019.  The short film captures their expectations; reflections and initial thoughts on the impact of the programme for their practice.   As well as sharing the video, three of the Aurorans, Rosemary McCormack, Nicola Smith and Raeanne Miller facilitated a reflective activity around mapping personal and institutional values.

Aurora Programme Evaluation Report

The 2018-19 Aurora Programme Evaluation report has been written by Ann Tilbury.  The findings highlight the huge value of the programme for participants with the most highly valued aspects reported as the development days; the opportunity to build both internal and external networks and the provision of a mentor through the University Mentoring Scheme.  The majority of participants have reported that the programme had encouraged them to proactively manage their career, take more responsibility within the university and to seek out leadership roles.