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What is Aurora?

Applications for Aurora 2024/25 are open between 19 June and 14 July 2024. in the meantime we are running briefing sessions for line managers and applicants to find out more about the programme.  Details of upcoming briefings and recordings of past briefings session can be found below.

Aurora is a leadership development programme for women (including non-binary and transgender colleagues) in grade 6-8 roles.

Designed and facilitated by Advance HE, Aurora was created to help address the under-representation of women in senior roles in higher education. The University of Leeds has been an active member from the beginning, supporting over 200 participants in their leadership career trajectory.

Participating in Aurora provides delegates with the opportunity to explore the nature of leadership and what it means to them, learn about the importance of visibility and ‘voice’, and consider the leadership skill set they already have. It introduces organisational culture and politics, ways of working within them and the importance of developing networks and establishing lasting mutually supportive connections. It looks at whether there are ‘gendered’ ways of leading, identifies personal underlying values and principles, and explores adaptive leadership skills.

The programme is delivered through day events, guest speakers, knowledge sharing, mentoring, action learning, and self-directed study – to ensure your learning has a more enduring impact. The core elements of the programme require you to commit to 7.5 days and 5-6 mentoring hours.

Aurora Alumni

If you are interested in Aurora and would like to find out who our Aurora Alumni are, you can find many of them on our Aurora Alumni webpage.

Applying for the 2024/25 programme (January – July 2025)

Applications are open from Monday 17 June until midnight on Friday 19 July 2024.

To apply, colleagues nominate themselves for a place via our Aurora application form (available from 17th June). Aurora is always a very popular programme with limited places available so applications may close early if places are filled - we will let colleagues know via this webpage if this happens. Before applying, you can read our Aurora guidance document to find out more about the programme and completing your application. Managers will also need to complete a Line Management Endorsement Form.  Important Note: The MS Teams form does not allow you to save progress. The guidance document outlines all the information you will need to complete your application so that you can draft your answers in advance.

Fees for 2024/25 are £tbc. OD&PL part-funds a limited number of places each year. OD&PL covers 40% (£tbc) of the programme fees, the remaining 60% (£tbc) being met by the applicant's work area. We cannot part-fund every available place on Aurora however, many areas choose to fully fund additional places. Please discuss this with your line manager and find out whether your department is happy to fully or part-fund your place on Aurora. You will also need to provide a budget account code with your application for the purpose of cross-charging. All travel costs to be covered by the participant's area of work. More details about the funding of the programme are available in our Aurora guidance document.

After applications are reviewed by a University-wide panel, confirmation of places will be communicated by the end of September 2024. We welcome applications from all areas of the university, including academic, professional services and technicians. We particularly welcome applications from groups that are under-represented in leadership positions at the University including, but not limited to, Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community; people who identify as LGBT+; and disabled people.


Briefing sessions for line managers

For line managers, we hosted a virtual information session on Monday 13 May 2024 to find out how Aurora could benefit their team members.  Please see the recording of Line Manager Briefing and slides from the Line Manager Briefing.

Briefing sessions for applicants

For applicants, we hosted a virtual information session on Thursday 23 May 2024 to find out how Aurora can benefit them.  Please see the recording of the Applicant Briefing and the slides from the Applicant Briefing.

Changes to the programme for 2023/24

For the 2023/24 programme, changes were made to the recruitment and selection process as we continue to evolve the programme.

The programme is now open to colleagues working in grade 6-8 roles, previously it was aimed at grade 7-9 roles. This change aligns with the purpose of Aurora to be a “leadership ignition journey, inspiring women to aspire and achieve leadership positions within higher education.” It also aligns with the University’s Enabling Strategy to “build leadership and management capability” and “provide learning opportunities which support individuals to fulfil their role, realise future potential and support career progression”.

As part of this change, we will be introducing alternative leadership development for colleagues working in grade 9 roles which is more targeted to their needs. If you would be interested to hear more about this programme please email

To help simplify the process, this year colleagues will self-nominate and complete the application form themselves, whereas in previous years senior leaders have also been offered the opportunity to nominate colleagues.