Skip to main content

How does Aurora work?

Aurora runs in a number of locations across the UK and Ireland and consists of six interlinked days: four development days and two action learning set days. Participants are encouraged to access and use the online self-directed resources available to them.

Led by a team of four leadership experts, participants will explore four key areas associated with leadership success: Identity, Impact and Voice; Power and Politics; Core Leadership Skills; Adaptive Leadership Skills.

Each of the four face to face days are held in large regional venues with the cohorts usually being drawn from a wide range of institutions in the same region. These days combine the best of conferences (prominent keynote speakers, open space technologies, outstanding networking opportunities, energy and dynamism) with the best of development workshops (interactivity, small group work, individual reflection, sharing of experiences and learning from role models). The development days are intended to be introductory events which will provide inspirational stories, guidance for growth of skills and knowledge, opportunities to share solutions to common problems and signposting for further learning. 

Aurora 2019-20

Aurora runs in a number of locations across the UK and Ireland and consists of six interlinked days.

To find a cohort search "Aurora" in our calendar.



Are you interested in joining Aurora? Request an information pack containing links to the Aurora brochure, case studies, videos and links to each of the cohorts for Aurora 2019-20. 

Request an information pack
Amanda Wilsher

Amanda Wilsher

Identity, Impact and Voice
Read more
Jenny Garret

Jenny Garrett

Adaptive Leadership Skills
Read more
Suzanne OBrien

Suzanne O'brien

Core Leadership Skills
Read more

Aurora Development Days

Day 1: Identity, impact and voice

Participants will investigate the nature of leadership and leaders and what it means to them, learn about the importance of visibility and ‘voice’ and start to consider the leadership skill set they already have. Current challenges facing participants will be discussed along with what the participant wants and can offer within a leadership role. This day will be led by Amanda Wilsher.

Day 2: Power and politics

Under this heading the cultures and politics of organisations will be investigated along with individual responses to them and ways of working within them. Participants will be encouraged to think about building coalitions, developing networks and make lasting mutually supportive connections. At this development day participants will be placed in action learning sets. This will be a prelude to day three, a full day action learning set hosted at a participant’s institution. This day will be led by Vijaya Nath.

Day 3: Core leadership skills

This day will introduce the key skills needed by all leaders and managers and consider whether there are any ‘gendered’ ways of leading. Participants’ underlying values and principles will be discussed, along with powerful communication styles, influencing, and the necessity of having a clear vision and appropriate strategy. This day will be led by Suzanne O`Brien.

Day 4: Adaptive leadership skills

Leadership is really tested when the environment is challenging or when there are no easy solutions. A leader’s attitude to risk and challenge, and their ability to take the long-term view, are essential in this context. This day will look at how the process of adaptive leadership could enhance your performance and success. This day will be led by Jenny Garrett.

Additional learning activities

Alongside attending the four face to face development days, participants are required to attend two action learning set days between days one and two and at the end of the programme. Participants are also encouraged to undertake self-directed learning, provided via online resources and materials and are required to engage with a mentor during and after the formal learning process.

Aurora action learning sets

The middle and final days of the programme is set aside for  full-day action learning sets. Action learning set groups are allocated on the second development day, Power and Politics, where participants will be seated at the same table. It is the responsibility of the set to agree a nearby venue and manage the action learning set process on the days. Participants of each set will utilise the sessions to discuss their personal work-related challenges and seek support through the action learning process, to identify solutions and next steps.

Whilst only two action learning sets are scheduled, we encourage sets to stay in touch and to schedule subsequent sets. It is anticipated that institutions will support Aurora participants in maintaining these sets as a positive approach to problem solving and as a way of developing networks, sharing good practice and learning from experience.

Self-directed learning (online)

Throughout Aurora, four streams of self-directed learning that echo the subjects of the development days will be available online for participants to use and follow throughout the programme. The self-directed learning will include reading, reflection, activities and challenges and be provided via online links to specially commissioned materials, internet articles and websites and via an Aurora community mail list.


Aurora participants are required to have a mentor to support and guide them throughout and after the end of the formal learning process. Find out more here.

Aurora delegates

Participants will benefit from the Aurora programme if they are:

•    Committed to the full Aurora process, attending all four development days plus the action learning set days and be prepared to undertake some self-directed study;
•    Able to undertake all pre-work set for the course in advance of attending each development day;
•    Ready to embrace the mentoring relationship, and actively work with their mentors to address their personal development and build their self-reliance;
•    Committed to career development higher education and prepared to devote some time to thinking about and planning their career;
•    Willing to host an action learning set day at their institution, with the support of their institution;
•    Prepared to embrace the extensive networking opportunities and participate fully in Aurora;
•    Willing to undertake projects or assignments for their institution in order to build on their developing leadership skills;
•    Prepared to participate in a longitudinal study;
•    Willing to act as mentors or role models to future participants.

Aurora Information Pack

If you would like more information on Aurora, complete the form below and we will send to you an information pack containing the Aurora brochure; links to interesting blogs and video; and dates and locations of upcoming cohorts.

Keep up-to-date with the latest from Advance HE
Let us do the hard work for you and keep you updated with services such as: the latest news, reports and research from around the sector, information on Advance HE services and awards that can support you in your role, and provide the services you have requested from us.

I agree to Advance HE contacting me via: