Aurora – Women’s Leadership Development Programme

The Aurora programme is targeted at women in academic, support, and research roles.

Aurora is a women-only leadership development programme provided by Advance HE.  It is a unique partnership initiative 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. NUI Galway provide internal funding each year for a number of employees to attend the programme. 

NUI Galway’s Aurora programme is targeted at women in academic, support and research roles in the University – from Postdoctoral up to and including Administrative Officer roles and Lecturer grades - in order to enable leadership potential and provide an opportunity for growth and development.

The programme provides, in a social learning environment, core and adaptive leadership skills and knowledge over 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. This is complemented by networking, role models, and guest speakers at each event.  Further, on-going support is ensured through the online resources and institutional level support including mentoring and institutional Aurora Champions. Participants should have the endorsement of their institution and be committed to developing and enhancing their career. 

For the individual participant, Aurora provides:

For the institution, Aurora provides:

  • An introduction to leadership in higher education
  • An opportunity to identify and build a leadership identity
  • Thought-provoking and challenging materials and activities
  • An experience of collaborative problem-solving processes
  • A network of early career women from across the sector
  • Inspirational stories
  • Successful female role models
  • An in-house mentor for on-going support and guidance
  • A positive view of leadership as a route to career progression
  • Access to the Aurora on-line community
  • Early career women with a growing interest in leadership roles
  • Experienced role models and mentors who can support others in-house
  • A regional network of women to offer support and guidance to the Aurora participants
  • A pool of potential female applicants for promotional posts
  • An understanding of issues and barriers faced by this key group of staff

2020/21 Ireland Programme Dates

Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 Intro Webinar
Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 Identity, Impact & Voice
Tuesday, 19 Jan 2021 Politics & Influence
Tuesday, 9 Feb 2021 Action Learning Set 1
Tuesday, 9 Mar 2021 Core Leadership Skills
Tuesday, 20 Apr 2021 Adaptive Leadership Skils
Tuesday, 11 May 2021 Action Learning Set 2
Who can apply?

Female academics up to and including Senior Lecturer level or equivalent, female administrative and technical staff up to comparable administrative grades(i.e. AO, STO), and female research staff may apply. Applicants should be ambitious for a career in the sector and interested in exploring leadership and management as an option for progression. 


Aurora funding is a collaborative initiative between the Office of the VP for Equality & Diversity and the Offices of the Registrar and Deputy-President, COO and VP for Research. The programme fee for participants will be jointly funded by the aforementioned offices. Travel costs are to be borne by the individual’s school or unit.

Application process

The programme opens for applications in September each year.  The OVPED will communicate the call for applications to all staff, including an application form. Applicants will be asked to submit a personal statement of no more than 800 words, indicating why they are interested in the programme and what they want to achieve from the programme.  Specifically, applicants need to address the following questions in their application:

  •  What development needs and/or leadership challenges are you experiencing in your current role?
  • How do you perceive Aurora would support you in addressing these needs/challenges?
  • What outcomes do you expect to achieve from your engagement with the Aurora programme?
  • Give an example of when you showed leadership within your area of work and describe the impact and outcome of the initiative. 
  • If applicable, give an example of where you showed leadership outside your direct area work in the University.

Applications will be scored out of a total of 100 marks (20 marks per question) and ranked.

Selection of Participants

To provide for equality of opportunity and transparent selection of participants, a sub-committee will assess the applications and select the successful participants based on the personal statements submitted.

Applicants must be available to attend the workshops on all specified dates, including any internal workshops that may be offered to participants to enhance their experience of Aurora.

Further Queries

For any further queries regarding this programme please contact